Volunteers have always had an important role in the success of the Grand Rapids Area Library. Individuals assist staff in shelving books, laminating paperbacks, hauling and sorting books, and preparing for book sales. Others -- often members of the Friends of the Library -- hold story times for children. And along with the individuals who volunteer their time and talents, there have always been various committees comprised of volunteers who have given many, many hours to the library.
It was the time, talent and ideas given by many community people that led to the building of the beautiful modern library that stands today on the Mississippi River. A "New" Library Steering committee was formed in the mid-1990s to review past studies on library access and to do the groundwork for the potential of building a new library. After months of study, these members recruited many more area people to form subcommittees that would be responsible for architect selection, art, finance, programs, site selection and technology. By the time the "new" library opened in 2000, thousands of hours had been spent by more than 350 volunteers -- along with city and library staff -- in planning, fundraising, and completing the project.
There are many ways that people can volunteer. Jobs can be physical or mental or both. While one volunteer might be interested in a weekly schedule, others may be available only for one-time events such as a book sale or a specific educational program. Most of the jobs occur in the library, but there are some tasks that can be done from home when requested. These might include graphic arts design, website work, or viewing videos and DVDs. Some library volunteers prefer routine jobs such as shelving or taking inventory, and others find their talents better suited to serving on boards or committees. Current volunteer groups include the Library's Program Committee, the Library's Board of Directors, the Library Foundation Board, and the Friends of the Library.
If you are interested in becoming one of the library's many volunteers, contact Bonnie Henriksen, the Library Volunteer Coordinator, at 218-327-8828, or send her an email.