Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Library Volunteers are the Heart of the Library

A couple of years ago I was contacted by a local school counselor about a potential volunteer for the library. (In addition to my job as the technology resources librarian I have also been the adult volunteer coordinator for the past 5 years.) I was eager to meet the young man who had recently graduated from high school into the Transition Adult Program through the Northwest Suburban Special Education Organization. After meeting him, he began volunteering at the library on a weekly basis which evolved into a regular position each afternoon.

"J" is a quiet, hard working, gentle man who recently turned 21. He has always arrived at the library with a determination to do his best, learn on the job and complete the tasks assigned to him. In the years that I've been supervising "J" I have quietly marveled at his work ethic and his sweet demeanor. He has definitely taught me more than I have taught him.

From the beginning of his volunteer work we had talked about the possibility of finding a paying job for "J" as his desire was to work permanently in a library. In February of this year a new job was created at the library which turned out to be almost custom made for "J". I talked to his school supervisor and we agreed that if "J" wanted the job, we would be happy to have him on staff at the library. On the day he was to transition from volunteer to staff member he arrived at work, not in his customary black t-shirt and jeans, but in a suit. He was there to formally interview for a job that he didn't understand was already his and he wanted to look his best. As he left my office to meet with his new supervisor I cried and the ladies who share my office cried with me. We were so proud of him. We were proud of the pride he showed for the opportunity to work and at the happiness he had at being given a chance.

This evening "J" received the Shining Star Award from the Northwest Suburban Special Education Organization in front of the school board, teachers, staff, family and friends. I was honored to be invited and to stand at his side as he received his award. "J" was honored for his diligence and hard work and for his success in obtaining employment in the community. "J" is the perfect example of the difference volunteers make in a library. His dedication to the library during his years as a volunteer resulted in a job and the chance for him to continue to do what he loves and I couldn't be any prouder of his success.

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