Heather's books

Sarah's Key
The Help
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
New Moon
Breaking Dawn
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
The Lightning Thief
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
The Notebook
Eat, Pray, Love
The Time Traveler's Wife
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Heather's favorite books »

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What volunteering can do for you

Once I started school to become a Librarian, I started applying for jobs within a library. All I have received was rejection letter after rejection letter. However, it wasn’t that unexpected. I was under-qualified for most positions. The ones that I “fit” perfectly were only part-time and paid $8/hour. Of course that would be great for a college student just starting out, but for a 36 year old with a family to raise and support that wasn’t going to cut it.
Most of my classmates already work in libraries and can bring “real life” experiences to discussions.   Not only due I want to contribute in the fashion, I would love to be in the field as soon as possible. My current career is wiping me out BIG time.  My first semester I had to interview a person in the field of Library Science that I was interested in for a research paper.  At the time, I wasn’t sure which path I was going to take, so I interviewed an Adult Reference Librarian at a local library. Her advice she gave me was to get a part-time job, volunteer, or join Friends of the Library to gain access. She said that would greatly improve chances of receiving employment because they want someone who has experience.
It took me a year to actually inquire about it, but I DID. I now volunteer at my community library about 2 Saturdays a month AND I joined the Friends of the Library. They meet almost once a month and run the bi-annual book club.  On my Saturdays, I primarily help weed through the children’s books to make room for all the new ones. Now this isn’t what I hope to do as a Librarian since there is no interaction with the patrons, but I learn the system and how the “back” of the library actually works and I LOVE IT.
Now, even more excited than this, I have only been volunteering for 3 mos and received an email from the library director and she wants me to lead a monthly book club and GET paid. Now it isn’t much, but it a start and something I can do while going to school, working full-time and raising my family. I went in and talked to her – I was able to help design the flyer, pick the books, and best of all I was able to help design the actually running of the club. Plus, she loved my ideas!!!
At the same time, I asked her if it was OK to use her on my resume as a reference. Her response, “Well, funny you should mention that!”,  she went on to tell me that she has a P/T employee leaving at the end of the year to go back to school. And would like to see if possible I get on board. Now before I get too excited this was just in discussion and nothing is officially on the table. I will probably (hopefully) hear more after Thanksgiving. Although, I did get a little inling from her that it’s not looking good now – another employee may pick up the hours.
This is NOT completely bad news..look at all 3 mos of volunteering has done for me – I’m learning my field, gaining references and friends, part-time book club leader, and already a possibility of a job at a library!!!

So my advice!!!  VOLUNTEER. Even if you are in a field you love…go after a hobby! Children in Need, pet shelters, abused adults, tutoring, whatever it may be. You may not be trying to gain employment, but the REWARDS are a benefit to all.


  1. What an excellent suggestion! I'm two weeks away from a degree in library science and can use any tips that you have!

    I had to take one of those $8/hour library jobs but we also had VA eduction money coming in. I was a PT library clerk for 8 months. Then I got a position purchasing, receiving and working with ILLs in the library. It's just PT and 12.95/hour but teaching me a whole lot.

    How long did it take you to get a job as a librarian? How long have you been a YA librarian?

    After reading your posts I'll definitely pick up some volunteering along with this PT job!

    Thanks for the post Heather! And any tips you can send my way would be MUCH appreciated!


  2. I am still not a librarian. I am only on my 3rd semester and only volunteering at the moment (my first post may explain more). The librarian director may be offering me a position soon though. I will be leading a new book club at this library starting in March. I am very excited about that!

  3. Love this, and very good advice. I have been volunteering with the local Audubon Center, leading educational programs for school groups. It's been a LOT of fun, and I've gotten really good reviews on the evaluations the teachers do at the end of the program. I'm hoping this will be a good inroad for once I get my teaching certificate. I'm also looking into volunteering at my local library because eventually, once I can afford it, I'd like to get my MLIS and work in either a public or school library.