Although volunteering is seen as a generous gesture on the part of the volunteer, it can also be very rewarding for the person giving up their time. Volunteers can often learn new skills, make new friends and benefit from a feeling that they have really made a difference to people's lives.
In the first of a series of case studies on the people who volunteer to help in libraries across the county, Anna Kibble from Mersham shares her experience:
Anna was intrigued to find that a couple of the youngsters at a recent craft session were on holiday from Reading – and even more surprised when they came back the following week.
“We work hard to make our sessions fun and interesting, but I was still delighted to see that we were attracting holidaymakers as well as local children,” she said.
While there are extra events at special times, such as during the summer and in the Christmas holidays, Anna’s regular focus is the craft sessions she runs once a month with fellow volunteer Christine Court.
While the two are now close friends, they had not met before Anna started working at the library, first as a sessional worker and later as a volunteer. “Meeting new people and making new friends is one of the unexpected extras you get from volunteering,” said Anna.
The craft sessions, which can attract as many as 14 or more pre-school children, along with parents and grandparents, are merely the tip of the iceberg. Anna and Christine spend many hours thinking about and planning the theme – anything from pirates to cartoon animals – and many more arranging the work on the Hythe children’s library’s ‘storyboard’.
Anna is also keen to help youngsters learn more about their world while having fun. “We were doing some finger printing recently and we decided to compare the different prints from brothers and sisters,” she said.
“It was really interesting to see the similarities between prints from different members of the family; we found it just as fascinating as the children. The aim of all our events is for the children to learn something as well as having fun.”
Anna finds the children an inspiration in the way they apply their creativity to their craftwork, and she enjoys meeting the families and encouraging the youngsters she describes as “the library users of the future”.
The two friends keep the storyboard up to date after each of the monthly sessions, adding additional items created by older children who visit the junior library later and want to cut out and colour their own contribution.
They also make sure that the books on the shelves near to the display reflect the theme of the montage, hoping to inspire children to a lifelong love of reading.
Anna answered an advertisement for sessional, or part-time, library staff after she retired, and when the amount of sessional work available dried up she was happy to volunteer instead. “I love working with the children and there are some very rewarding moments, such as when a parent decides to join the library after visiting with their youngster,” she commented. “I would recommend volunteering to anyone.”
If you think you might like to join the happy band of library volunteers give us a call on 01732 749420 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Pictured: Anna Kibble - Favourite author/book: Fannie Flagg, Jane Austen; mystery stories.
Meeting new people and making new friends is one of the unexpected extras you get from volunteering.”Anna Kibble