On Friday, I attended two volunteer appreciation teas at OPL, first at Beaverbrook Branch, and then at Hazeldean.
I would have been ashamed to tell you that I keep a running list (in Excel, natch) of OPL locations I have visited, had I not discovered that several of my colleagues also aspire to visit all the locations (one even has a plan to do it all on one day - tip: can only be achieved on a Thursday). As of Friday noon, I was at 25 out of 34 (if you count 33 branches + 1 Bookmobile, except there are 2 Bookmobiles, technically, and yes, I've been on both...).
I had been to Hazeldean before, but I had only ever been in Beaverbrook's parking lot (don't ask!) Above, you can see the public computer area at the branch, looking out to a patch of grass that some Beaverbrook Branch volunteers, working with the library settlement worker, are turning into a garden (hard at work in the picture, even! On the day of their own celebratory tea!). Below are some other photos, first of Beaverbrook's teen zone (designed by teens from Earl of March Secondary School), and then of the lcoal history room, the Kanata Room. I was very lucky to receive a tour of Beaverbrook from my colleague and fellow readers' advisory expert, Pat, and a tour of the Kanata Room (including framed sheet music, which you can sort of see in the dead centre of my -sadly- blurry pic) from the volunteer who lovingly maintains, arranges and promotes the collections therein. In addition to gardening and local history, volunteers at Beaverbrook sort book donations, do minor book repairs, run book sales at the branch (for which there are line-ups outside the doors!), and animate book chat groups. A mix of dedicated volunteers (some having given more than 30 years' service!) and newcomers to Canada mixed with local high school students (who also volunteer), staff and managers at the Beavrbook tea; my speech was translated into Chinese (hey, try translating "Acting Coordinator of Diversity and Accessibility! No small feat!).
At Hazeldean, I was introduced to many more passionate volunteers, including some who work with the Friends of the Library. I was also treated to a very funny reading of Lane Smith's It's a Book, in celebration of the day's events, and I was served with real teacups. It was such a pleasure to meet some of the people who so kindly give of their time for the library (and it's always a bonus to spend some time with colleagues who I don't often see, including the lovely Pat, who picked me up at the bus stop and gave me a tour of Beaverbrook, the amazing Karen, fellow coordinator, with whom I always have thought-provoking conversations about management, Annie, storyteller extraordinaire, and Linda, who drove me from Point A to Point B and then back to Point C - Main Library!)
Below are some excerpts from my speech.
Almost half of the Canadian population volunteers, and in 2007 alone, volunteers contributed 2.1 billion hours of their time to organisations around the country (source). Here at OPL, we have about 350 volunteers at a variety of branches.
You donate your time, your wealth of experience and knowledge, and sometimes a little muscle, to the library, and it’s a contribution that I know is greatly appreciated. Volunteers enhance our services and inject fresh energy into the library. You are relied upon for your friendly faces, your willingness to pitch in, and, in many cases, your ongoing years of involvement in the life of our library communities. Martin Luther King, Jr. said that “everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve.... You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace [and a] soul generated by love.”
There is a saying in volunteer circles that “a few contribute the most” – so, for instance, the top 25% of volunteers contributed 78% of all volunteer hours in 2007 (source). That’s a simply exceptional achievement! Beyond numbers, you may not think of some of the other ways in which you positively influence your communities as volunteers: for instance, those who have seen a parent or someone they admire perform volunteer work in the community are more likely than other Canadians to volunteer (source). I was, and still am, a volunteer in part because I watched my grandfather enjoy contributing almost 30 years of volunteer service, from practically the day he retired until weeks before his death. Volunteering is intensely personal: the contribution of one outstanding volunteer can change an organisation, and, as I am sure you know, the volunteer.
Thank you, on behalf of OPL, for giving a part of yourselves to the library.