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Dr. Varaprasad - Leveraging on Volunteers for Sustainable Library Services Part 1
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Dr. Varaprasad - Leveraging on Volunteers for Sustainable Library Services Part 1

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Invited paper presented at the plenary session of the 14th CONSAL General Conference, April 21-22, 2009.

Invited paper presented at the plenary session of the 14th CONSAL General Conference, April 21-22, 2009.

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  • 1. Dr N Varaprasad and Ms Valerie Siew National Library Board Singapore 20-24 April 2009 CONSAL XIV, Ha Noi, Vietnam Leveraging on Volunteers for Sustainable Library Services All Rights Reserved, National Library Board Singapore
  • 2. Providing library services
    • Library services are typically manpower intensive -
      • There’s a limit to what can be automated
      • Usually most non-value-adding functions are automated e.g check-out & returning
      • But some cannot even be automated e.g. shelving
  • 3. The value of library services
    • Value-added library services often require the human touch!
      • For example, reference services, story-telling, book selection, cataloguing, reading promotion etc
  • 4. The dilemma of library services
    • Limited manpower resources means most national & public libraries are constrained in what library services can be provided for the public.
      • Limits to scaling up library services beyond the bare basics
  • 5. A possible solution
    • One way to overcome the shortage of human resources in the library and scale up services WITHOUT adding huge costs….
      • Use VOLUNTEERS to complement staff
  • 6. What’s a volunteer?
    • A volunteer….
    • Provides work for an organisation or cause voluntarily
    • Usually does the work readily, without expecting to receive any payment for the tasks done
  • 7. NLB's Friends of the Library initiative - a case study
  • 8. Friends of the Library (FOL): How it got started
    • Began as a means to engage seniors as part of the International Year of Elders in 2001
      • 2001 - First batch of volunteers: 21 seniors
      • Expanded to 200+ from 2002 to 2005
  • 9. Library 2010 outcome: Active Citizenry
    • One of Library 2010’s outcomes was to encourage active citizenry at the public libraries
        • Hence, in 2005, the FOL programme was re-structured in order to achieve the L2010 outcome
        • A holistic approach was used to improve the programme
  • 10. Components of NLB’s Volunteer management RECRUITMENT FLEXIBLE SELECTION OF VOLUNTEER TASKS TRAIN & DEPLOY CONTINUAL QUALITY ASSESSMENT RETENTION, REWARDS & RECOGNITION
  • 11. Recruitment of Volunteers
    • Recruitment is done via
      • A dedicated online 24/7 portal through the public libraries webpage ( www.pl.sg )
      • Tie-ups with the National Volunteer Philanthropy Centre (NVPC)
        • Recruitment through NVPC’s talks on volunteerism
      • Onsite recruitment via community fairs
  • 12. http://vms.nlb.gov.sg
  • 13. Flexible selection of volunteer tasks
    • Once registered and approved as a volunteer, the FOL can choose the kind of volunteering task he or she wants to do
      • Volunteers choose what they want to do from a menu listing, choice selection includes
        • Which library to work at
        • What roles they want to do
  • 14. Variety & choice of what volunteering tasks are available. Every hyperlink is a volunteering opportunity
  • 15. Details for each volunteer opportunity tell people what is expected of them These are choice of roles that FOLs can pick from