Volunteers have run Totley Library since the end of September 2014. We have built up a team of over 100 volunteers who are responsible for all sorts of roles from shelving books to fundraising, hospitality, events, organisational roles and serving our Board of Trustees.
The day-today running of the library involves a wide range of tasks all of which involve face-to-face contact with our customers. We ask our library volunteers to do one or two shifts every fortnight (shifts last about 4 hours). Although many of our volunteers tend to work the same shift each time they come in, we are very happy for library volunteers to vary the time of day and day of the week they come in.
All our library volunteers start as Book Assistant – Learner in which role they work alongside an experienced Book Assistant: shelving and finding books, keeping the library tidy, answering customer queries, and helping customers use our automatic checkout machines.
Many of our library volunteers then go on to work as a Shift Assistant where they do a wider range of tasks including using the computer systems which enable us to keep track of library books both in our library and across the whole of Sheffield. Operating these systems does not require great computer skills, we provide full training, and there is always someone to ask if a volunteer gets stuck.
We encourage our Shift Assistants to take another step and become a Shift Leader which also involves taking responsibility for opening and closing the library and supporting the other volunteers on their shift. The Shift Leader is in charge of the library for the duration of their shift but does not operate on their own: a more senior volunteer is always either on the premises or just a phone call away.
Working with children
Every week, we run Baby Time and Story Time sessions, for babies and toddlers/pre-schools respectively, with their parents, grandparents or carers. These sessions provide songs, stories and, for the toddlers/pre-schools, craft activities and games. Unsurprisingly, they involve a great deal of preparation and tidying up, as well as involvement in the activities of the sessions.
Numerous events take place at the Library. Some, such as monthly book sales, are events we run ourselves. Others, such as The Health Walk, are run by others but hosted by the library. All of them require input such as Baking Cakes or Chairs/Room Preparation
We are currently showing films twice a month, once on a Thursday afternoon, once on Friday evening. This requires volunteers to run Front of House which includes setting up, greeting people and selling ice creams etc. It also requires volunteers to run the Technical aspects of the cinema such as operating the projector. And we really need volunteers who will take responsibility for running each film showing.
The gardens around the library are a source of great pride to us. Our gardening team is currently full but we will change this entry as and when we need new gardening volunteers.
Behind the Scenes
All these activities depend on work that goes on behind the scenes. Some is specific to libraries, for example cataloguing books; some of it applies across the voluntary sector, for example fund-raising; but much is the same as in many organisations for example Safeguarding, Health & Safety, and Marketing/Publicity/Media. We need help managing our online filing system. We need help clearing the path to the library when it snows and there are a host of other functions involved in running an organisation with over a hundred volunteer staff, with its own building, its own finances, and so on.
If you think you might be able to help us behind the scenes, we would very much like to hear from you.
We are very sorry but due to safeguarding issues and the impact on volunteer management time, we are unable to offer placements for under 16s.