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Board Presentation

December 15th, 2014

Each year, the Curtis Memorial Library Boards and the Curtis Friends Board come together for a joint meeting. They use their time together to welcome new members and align their interests for the coming year. In addition to these tasks, they welcome a member of the library staff to present on their department. I was honored to be invited to present.

As there were new board members present, I took a few minutes to introduce myself. One such tidbit I shared was about my extensive travels in East Africa. During college I was fortunate enough to study abroad in Kenya. This fueled what has since become a life long passion of mine. I have returned to Kenya and then Tanzania. I went to law school in Nairobi, worked at a Children’s Village in Tanzania, clerked for a United Nations tribunal and traveled to Rwanda as part of that position. I mentioned these trips partly because they are a large part of who I am today but also because while I work coordinating volunteers, I am also a volunteer myself. I understand the challenges and benefits. I get great joy in volunteering in both my local community as well as abroad.

I wanted to share the accomplishments of volunteers over the past six months. I talked about this blog! I really wanted to make the volunteer webpage dynamic. I wanted a reason for people to visit it more than once. I wanted the site to be a destination. Apparently more than a few people read this blog, so success! I added the option to apply online as well as introducing online sign ups for events using VolunteerSpot.

Following this discussion, I went into talking about my goals for the volunteer program for 2015.

  • In 2015, I would love to find ways to increase the diversity among our volunteers. This will take being creative in our volunteer opportunities as well as addressing common impediments that stop people from volunteering, including lack of time, child care, lack of transportation and misconceptions about volunteering.
  • Volunteers under the age of 18 can bring so much to our community. They have energy and enthusiasm. And we have a huge advantage, they are required to volunteer 30 hours for graduation. However, it can be challenging to work within their schedules and other commitments. I want to find ways to engage this population. This will involve being innovative on how we engage with teenagers and what volunteer opportunities we offer.
  • Having Bowdoin and SMCC in our own town, we have the fabulous opportunity to  work with motivated volunteers who inherently have experience and motivation to join our community. One hurdle is introducing them to Curtis. Another is working within their ever changing schedules, and school breaks. This age group needs meaningful tasks and want to feel that they have contributed something. This is not a group to give mindless tasks to, so it will take revisiting our volunteer opportunities to attack new volunteers.
  • I have researched a number of technological options available to help streamline the application, schedule and sign up process.  Unfortunately, we were not selected to receive a grant to fund the purchase of the product I selected. This means I will be working closely with Development in the coming year to find ways to acquire and maintain a system. I feel strongly that this resource will free up my time presently spent managing multiple sources of information in order to work on other projects.
  • Finally, there is room for growth and development in the area of recruiting professional volunteers. This means finding volunteers with unique professional skills who are interested in providing those skills to the library in lieu of us paying someone else. Areas of interest might be legal, financial / accounting, web and design skills.

I have greatly enjoyed my first six months here at Curtis. I am truly excited about all these rooms for growth in the coming year. I am so proud of our volunteer community. Last fiscal year we had 280 unique volunteers who contributed 8,708 hours to Curtis Memorial Library. How amazing is that?! Thank to everyone and I look forward to the exciting opportunities that 2015 has in store!

 

Gratitude

November 26th, 2014

pooh and piglet gratitudeIt is common this time of year to look back and share what we are grateful for. As we all prepare to come together around tables with friends and family, I want to take a minute and do just that. I want to share what I am grateful for this year.

I am grateful for a job that I love. I am so fortunate to get to come to work every day at a place I enjoy, with people who challenge me, supervisors who support me and in a building that is peaceful and beautiful.

I am grateful for our volunteers. Over the past six months, I am continually in awe of the Curtis Volunteers. No matter the tasks, big or small, volunteers consistently step up. Whether it is weekly shelving, book sales, out door clean up, delivering books to the home bound, volunteers are there to complete these tasks. That leads nicely to my next point.

I am grateful for the strong support for Curtis Memorial Library. The Brunswick and Harpswell communities truly love this place. This love and support is exactly the reason people continually step up to help when asked. Countless people recount that the library does so much for them that they are happy to help out.

I am grateful for all I have learned in my six months here. It is fascinating to discover how Curtis stays so popular. By fulfilling our mission, we offer more than just books. We are a community center offering a wide array of programming, services and educational opportunities that keep people coming back.

Thank you all for being part of the Curtis Community. Happy Thanksgiving to you all and may you have countless things to be grateful for this season.

Books on Wheels

November 20th, 2014

Books on Wheels is one of my favorite volunteer supported programs here at the library. Run by the Curtis Friends, Books on Wheels delivers books to home bound Curtis Memorial Library patrons. Presently, there are 30 Brunswick residents who receive books.

Volunteers visit monthly bringing with them new books and returning the old books. Some volunteers and patrons form a life long bond. Many volunteers report that they really enjoy their time with the patron, often staying for hours to talk. When one patron was recovering from eye surgery, the volunteer stayed and read from the selected books. The benefits of this program go beyond “just” delivering books.

For the bibliophiles among us, forming a connection with the book – the characters, the themes, the scenery – has always been part of our lives. Books on Wheels allows community members to maintain that relationship. CS Lewis said “We read to know we are not alone.” This program proves this to be true. Books on Wheels volunteers give patrons back their reading independence by selecting books and media from the library for their enjoyment.

As we approach Thanksgiving, I wanted to take a moment to be thankful for the Books on Wheels volunteers for taking Curtis Memorial Library resources to members of our community who cannot join us in person. By sharing your love of reading, your careful selection of books and spending time with your patron, you embody the Curtis mission: To enhance the quality of life in our towns by advancing knowledge, fostering creativity, encouraging the exchange of ideas, and building community. Thank you!

Could you or a loved one benefit from Books on Wheels? For more information: http://www.curtislibrary.com/how-do-i-2/books-on-wheels/

My Passion!

November 4th, 2014

Those who know me know that I have am a crazy dog person! I have always had the pleasure of having dogs in my life and that has continued into adulthood. I got my first dog while living in New Jersey. His name is Dash and he is a little mutt! We adore him, but whatever makes up his mutt-ness can be extremely frustrating! Maybe a bit of terrier, we aren’t sure and he isn’t telling! We joke that he has a old soul. An old grumpy soul.

Several years later, along came Graeme. He is the apple of my eye, my raison d’etre! I blame Graeme for my crazy dog person status. Graeme is special! He is a Portuguese Water Dog and I co-own him with his breeder. As part of this co-ownership, he participates in dog shows. Yup! Have you seen Best in Show? That is not far from reality! In a very short amount of time, Graeme earned his American and Canadian championships giving him a very fancy title: Am. Can. Ch. DownEast Man of the Match CGC AWD. No kidding! His name is more impressive than mine.

Due in large part to his breeder being heavily involved in the dog world, I felt compelled to train Graeme, mostly in an effort to make them proud. I quickly learned that Graeme loves to work and I don’t mind training him. It is actually a lot of fun. I love training him in water work, which is made up of tests the replicate what the breed would have done in Portugal for the fishermen – fetch items overboard, retrieve things under water, board and ride boats. It is a true working team. And it means I get to be in the water all summer. I also worked hard and got Graeme certified as a Therapy Dog. Every week we go to our local library, the Lewiston Public Library, to participate in their READ program. Little kids snuggle up to Graeme and read to a non-judgmental listener. Graeme excels in all these areas.

I have learned a lot about patience and communication through my work with Graeme. I have made a lot of friends with similar interests. I happily embrace my crazy dog moniker and would love to chat about our shared passion if you also love dogs!

Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment

October 27th, 2014

volunteering to self sufficiency

Many view volunteering as a one way street – the volunteer provides services to an organization and excepts nothing in return. But, did you know, volunteering can provide you with many added benefits, including being more likely to be hired for future jobs?

The Corporation for National and Community Service conducted extensive research and found the following fascinating facts:

  • Volunteers have a 27 percent higher likelihood of finding a job after being out of work than non-volunteers
  • Volunteers without a high school diploma have a 51 percent higher likelihood of finding employment
  • Volunteers living in rural areas have a 55 percent higher likelihood of finding employment

Volunteering introduces you to new people, helping you network within your community. You have the opportunity to build new skills, gain enhanced knowledge and work experience within a professional setting.

Do you have a section for volunteering on your resume? Do you keep it up to date? If you answered no to either of these questions, you might want to think again. According to a LinkedIn survey, 41% of employers consider volunteer service as much as their employment history. Surprisingly, only half those surveyed included their own volunteer work on their resume. Your volunteer work is a spotlight on your passions and talents that might not otherwise shine through.

Photo credit: United Way Central Indiana

2014 Blaine House Conference on Service and Volunteerism

October 20th, 2014

Last week I had the great pleasure of representing Curtis Memorial Library at the annual Blaine House Conference on Service and Volunteerism. This year’s theme was Service: The Art. The Magic. The Impact.

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I attended a number of sessions in hopes of bringing back both the tried and true practices that have had success elsewhere as well as new ways of doing things. The sessions focused on technology as a means of managing volunteers, benefiting from a relationship with a college or university, developing my skills as a new leader of our volunteer cohort and marketing our vibrant volunteer community. In each session, I was able to learn from leaders in their fields. I am confident that over the next few weeks and months, as I digest everything I learned, I will be able to adopt the parts that best suit the Curtis Volunteer Community.

The Key Note Speech  was amazing. Director of the Franklin Project, Jason Mangone, introduced us to his work and how the Franklin Project can help shape generations to come.  “The Franklin Project is an effort to improve citizenship by giving every young person in America the opportunity to do a service year. Sometime between the ages of 18 and 28, the young person would do a fully paid, full-time year of service in one of an array of areas from conservation to education and everything in between. These young people will do good work and solve problems. But the real product is better young Americans.” http://www.aspeninstitute.org/policy-work/franklin-project 

Hearing Jason speak about where American was 100 years ago, where we are now and how we can shift our priorities and focus for the better was inspiring. The Franklin Project aims to make giving back, volunteering, service to a cause attainable to everyone. Not only will the community be better for receiving the service, the participant will have gained, skills, connections and experience. Whether they are going on to high education or embarking on a career, they will be better because of their year of service.

Of course, this is all well and good in theory but not remotely practical without a shift in thinking by students, employers and funding sources. Major changes will need to happen to allow this dream to become a reality, but I am encouraged that influential people are having this conversation; that service is valued and encouraged.

Join us over the next four weeks!

October 13th, 2014

It seems either feast or famine with our volunteer opportunities! Following the large book sale in June, I was taking a waiting list to come on as a regular volunteer. Not the case right now! Over the next four weeks, we have fabulous ways for volunteers to join us for single day events. What better way to get involved despite your busy schedule! We would love to see familiar faces as well as new ones!

  • book foldingCurtis Contemporaries Crafting: Join members of the Curtis Contemporaries Friday, October 17 from 3pm – 4:30pm. Drop in to help create folded book and hanging book decorations to display at Curtis’ BOOKED FOR THE NIGHT fundraising event on Saturday, October 25th.  If you can cut, fold and glue, you can help create these fun and attractive pieces.  Crafty kids of all ages welcome.  Light refreshments.   Click here to sign up!
  • Booked for the Night Event Help: Assist staff, Contemporary members and catering staff to help set up the event on Saturday, October 25 from 3:30pm – 5:30pm. Additionally, we need people from 5:30 – 8pm to help us staff the event, including staff the welcome tables, raffle tables, assist the caterers, aid in the event programs. After 8pm, we welcome volunteers to stay, free of charge and enjoy the festivities until the conclusion of the event as our guests. Due to alcohol being served, we request that volunteers be over the age of 21. Click here to sign up!
  • Annual Fund Mailing: Want something less physical but just as valuable? Join us on Tuesday, October 28 from either 10am – 12pm or 1pm – 3pm to help assemble over 700 letters to help kick off the Annual Fund! Snacks and good company are a given! Click here to sign up!
  • Curtis Friends Fall Clean Up: There is still room to join Curtis Friends for the Fall Clean up on Saturday, November 1 from 9am to 12pm. Lunch to follow! If you haven’t already, click here to sign up!
  • Curtis Friends Children’s Book Sale: Help the Curtis Friends set up the book sale on Friday, November 7 from 11:30am – 3pm and at the sale on Saturday, November 8 in varying shifts from 8:45am – 2:30pm. Click here to sign up!

These events are so different and offer our volunteer community a fabulous way to get involved with library administration and fellow volunteers, while making a huge difference to the library. I am excited to offer these opportunities, that run the spectrum from physical outdoor work cerebral crafting! No matter your skill set, there is something for everyone over the next four weeks.

 

Shelving at Curtis

October 6th, 2014

persons name

Did you know that 100% of the reshelving done at Curtis is done by volunteers? They return upwards of 1000 items EACH DAY! We would have to hire more than two full time staff members to accomplish the 2,621 hours shelving last year! WHAT?! That blows my mind every time I read that. It is truly humbling to think of this contribution. 

Volunteer shelvers work in all of our collections, including Adult Fiction, Non-Fiction, Mystery, Large Print, New Books, Magazines, Art & Architecture, biographies, Young Adult Fiction, Non-Fiction, Comix, Graphic Novels, Children’s Picture Books, Early Readers, Non-Fiction, Fiction, Paperback Series, Comics, Holiday, Reference. I am surely missing other valued segments of our collections, but you get the gist. It is insane the amount of information the shelvers must retain to get all the books back where they belong so that patrons can find them and enjoy them! 

Over the past month, I have had the pleasure of hosting two shelving trainings to help new volunteers get a handle on all the information needed to return all the books.  If you are an avid library user, you may know our books are shelved using a number of different techniques depending on the collection – Dewey Decimal, Neighborhoods, Alphabetical, Cutter Numbers! It is a lot to take in and our volunteers handle it with grace and ease.

If you see a volunteer shelver in your travels around the library, don’t hesitate to thank them for all their hard work! Curtis would not be the same without them!

 

Volunteers Needed for the Curtis Friends Fall Clean Up and Children’s Book Sale!

September 29th, 2014

volunteer-blog

Fall is here and that can only mean one thing! It is time to start thinking about volunteering at the Curtis Friends Fall Clean Up and the Curtis Friends Children’s Book Sale.

Join the Curtis Friends Saturday, November 1 at 9am for the Annual Fall Clean Up. We will be undertaking a number of tasks to ready our beautiful outside landscaping for impending winter, including weeding, raking and thinning out the gardens. Lunch will be provided by the Curtis Friends following the clean up. Click here to sign up!

The following weekend, the Curtis Friends will be hosting their Annual Children’s Book Sale on Saturday, November 8. Volunteers assist in the set up the day before as well as at the sale and cleaning up at the end of the sale. Click here to sign up!

Thank you, Bowdoin College!

September 24th, 2014

Over the past month, Curtis has been blessed with the generosity of Bowdoin College. First, I had the pleasure of welcoming a service learning orientation group.

Instead of the traditional orientation trip, climbing mountains and discovering the natural gems we are so lucky to have here in Maine, these students chose to participate in service trips. Through their week, they worked with various Maine non-profit organizations focusing on social issues, such has housing and immigration as well as health and wellness. On the final day, the groups broke from their themes and joined together to experience one final non-profit. Curtis welcomed their eager, positive attitudes and healthy young bodies and put them straight to work! It would have taken a single staff member 27 hours to accomplish what these students did in a couple hours!

This past weekend, we again had the opportunity to cross some much needed things off our revolving to-do list, when ten Bowdoin students, staff and alums joined us as part of Bowdoin Common Good day! Every year in the fall, over 25% of the Bowdoin community volunteer their time to local organizations. We divided and conquered and completed all the tasks library staff needed help with!

On behalf of myself and the Curtis Memorial Library, want to thank Bowdoin College, the McKeen Center for Common Good and the Bowdoin students for the nearly 60 hours volunteered this fall!

Mark your calendars: Curtis Friends Fall Clean Up!

September 18th, 2014

Saturday, November 1 from 9am – 12pm, the Curtis Friends will be hosting their Annual Fall Clean Up!

This is a chance to get your hands dirty, ready the gardens for winter and help beautify the outside of the library.

The Curtis Friends are generously providing lunch after the event.

Mark your calendar and click here to sign up!DSCN2744

Want to learn to shelve for Curtis Memorial Library?

September 10th, 2014
Have you shelved for Curtis before? Have you recently interviewed to become the newest Curtis volunteer?
Want to shelve but cannot make a six month commitment?
We will be hosting shelving trainings on Friday, September 19 at 1pm and Sunday October 5 at 1pm.
At the training, we will learn the basics of being a Curtis Memorial Library Shelver, review shelving guidelines, shelve within the Children’s, Young Adult and Adult Collection and compete in some shelving competitions to test your new skills.
We will also be joined by current shelvers who will share their knowledge with the group.
While we are at capacity for regular recurring shelving opportunities, we are always in need of shelving substitutes.
This is the perfect way to be involved without any long term commitment.
Upon successful completion of either training, you will be included in the email list to learn about shelving shifts that need to be covered.
Presently, we have over 20 open substitute shelving spots over the next six weeks in all of the collections within the library.
Click here to sign up: http://vols.pt/FMRWs1 Space is limited but if there is sufficient interest, additional trainings will be added.
Haven’t applied to be a volunteer yet? Click here to complete and application!

New Volunteer Opportunities!

September 3rd, 2014

With such dedicated volunteers, I find it bitter sweet that we rarely have new opportunities for new people to join us and volunteer on a regular basis. Well, dedicated patrons, you are in luck!  We have three unique opportunities available to new or current volunteers. If you are interested in a specific position, email me at jflaherty@curtislibrary.com.

  • Children’s Services is seeking a volunteer to assist in setting up the room on Friday mornings at 10am in advance of their programming. This position would be during the school year only, excluding school vacations. It would take no more than 10 minutes, so it would be ideal to add to a current shelver’s duties or if you are a parent wanting to volunteer with your child before attending the program.
  • Do you have an eye for detail? We are in need of a volunteer to assist a current volunteer in maintaining our bulletin boards in the lobby. We currently have someone helping on Tuesday mornings but need someone to come in on Fridays to prepare the board for the weekend. This entails removing outdated material and neatly putting up new items.
  • Newspaper readers, this one is for you! We maintain information from our local newspapers about when Curtis makes the news. We need an eagle eye’ed volunteer to help us by clipping the articles from the paper.
  • Finally, we need a volunteer who wants to spread the word of Curtis over town! We need someone who can, from time to time, take posters of our amazing events, and hang them in local establishments (with permission, of course!). Currently we have the Fall Mystery Series posters and the Just Desserts group posters!

If any of the above positions interests you or you want to learn more about volunteering at Curtis Memorial Library, email me at jflaherty@curtislibrary.com or stop by!

I volunteer at Curtis Memorial Library because…

August 25th, 2014

Curtis Volunteer Word CloudYou may have noticed a Facebook post or email asking you to answer the simple prompt “I volunteer at Curtis Memorial Library because…” Over 10% of our registered volunteers replied. While 10% sounds low, it is actually an incredibly high response rate based on current market standards for survey responses! Way to go Curtis Volunteers!

The responses were amazing. Truly humbling. Responses ranged from “a way to give back” to “being part of the best resource in town!” People were honest and creative as to why they give so generously of their time to Curtis Memorial Library. It is a pleasant reminder for us all, that while the Library receives much needed services from volunteers, we, as volunteers, receive innumerable gifts in return.

While learning about what motivates our volunteers is valuable in and of itself, I did have ulterior motives. As I settle into my new role as Volunteer Coordinator, I have created several short term and long term goals for both myself as well as the program. Some of these goals, including a volunteer management software, increased volunteer networking opportunities and volunteer recognition programs, require money! The best place to seek funding for such endeavors is through grants. With the help and guidance of the development department, I am working on a grant to help fund these goals. The anonymous responses were compiled into a visually stunning word cloud. A word cloud is a modern graph that illustrates word usage. The larger the word, the more frequently it is used. How cool is that?!

I love that the word “community” is one of the most used words as that is what we strive to do here. We aim to go beyond being just a library and instead seek to be a community center, a place to share ideas and develop connections as well as a place to seek knowledge and friendships.  Thank you all for welcoming me into your community. I am honored to be a part of Curtis Memorial Library.

CML Volunteers are going digital!

August 19th, 2014

Today I want to talk about all the ways you can connect with the Curtis Memorial Library volunteer program. One of my priorities for the first six months here at CML was to expand the digital presence of the program. I want to attract the best of the best to add to our community of volunteers. I feel it is important to expand the reach of recruitment in order to develop the skills our volunteers possess and increase our impact on the library.

The first thing I did was provide a way for interested community members to apply to become a volunteer online. As more people exist in the digital realm, it is important to meet people where they are. An online application allows younger volunteers to easily apply as well as support those who find us via popular search engines to engage with us. Have you looked at the new volunteer site and the online application? Click here to learn more!

The next step was to create a simple process for volunteers to sign up for our many on-going projects. Our volunteers are busy. I wanted to make signing up as easy as possible. Volunteer Spot was just the answer. It allows CML to create opportunities for our projects that need volunteers. These could be shelving substitutes, Mystery Writer’s Series volunteers, book sales and the Neighborhood Projects! You can click here to discover CML on Volunteer Spot! 

Finally, I took advantage of online resources to advertise our work here. VolunteerMatch is a national database of volunteer opportunities. This is a hotbed of information if you are looking to get involved in your community. CML is new to the site but already we have had numerous views and inquiries to volunteer. The internet is allowing us to reach a whole new demographic! Similar to VolunterMatch, is VolunteerMaine is the online platform for Maine non-profits to reach potential volunteers.  Both these resources allow you to search by your interests to find the perfect fit for your skills.

I appreciate everyone who has been patient with me as I navigate our options and find which work best for our volunteers and reach new volunteers. Try out these resources! You never know how your skills might benefit a local organizations.

Together in service,

Jessica