A group of teens spent their summer volunteering at the Southwest Branch Library in addition to the rest of their obligations. This was Dawson’s second summer volunteering at the Southwest Branch. He tells us what he really thought about his volunteer experience!
What did you do this summer?
This summer a lot of what I did outside of programs was the same. I boxed up FOL [donations for the Friends of the Library] books, helped straighten shelves, and so on. The major differences were in the programs, with many of those being different from last year, or at least different from what I had volunteered at before. While last year, the programs seemed a bit more varied, with things like learning how to juggle, playing games, or making buttons, this summer the programs seemed to have a theme, with the majority of programs I’ve helped with being used to help teach science, though this was in a wide variety of fields.
Why did you sign up to volunteer?
I signed up to volunteer at the library because I need volunteer hours to graduate high school, and heard that the library had opportunities for teens to do that. Since I had spent a large amount of time there over the years, and since it was within walking distance of home, I knew it would be a good place to start.
What did you enjoy the most about volunteering?
The programs are always fun. Since usually I’m in the back room boxing books or out cleaning up shelves, it is always nice to help out with a program, especially this summer, as they’ve all been interesting topics.
What was your least favorite volunteer task?
Straightening shelves, especially in a busy section of the library like the children’s section. Many times when I have been working on the shelves, I’ll turn around and realize that a kid has pulled a book out to look at, then put it back on the shelf haphazardly, or sometimes not even back with the books, but on top of them instead. This makes the whole task feel like I’ll never finish, as by the time I’ve made it all the way through the shelves, those shelves will be in need of help again. At least when I box away books, I always get a sense of achievement when I see that I’ve cleared them away.
How could The Seattle Public Library make the teen volunteer experience better?
A wider variety of things to do would be nice. As it is now, volunteers are either helping at a program, or cleaning in some way. As entertaining as those things can be, only having two major possibilities on what we will be doing makes the experience a bit less enjoyable, and feel almost monotonous.
What do you think is the most important service or resource the library has for teens?
The library catalog and easily-accessed internet are very helpful. The majority of the times that I’ve heard other people say that they want to go to the library; it has been for a project for school. Being able to provide kids with information for these projects, whether it’s through the Internet or through checking out a book, is very important for many kids, who might not be able to get the same things at home. Even though they might sometimes use it just for something simple, like checking email or Facebook, those times that they use it for something important make the time wasted worth it.