There are lots of smaller daily activities that need to be taken care of in a library setting. Volunteers can:
- Dust the shelves
- Clean and sanitize toys
- Make sure games and puzzles have all the pieces
- Organize toy bins and puzzles
- Test markers and glue sticks to make sure they're still good, and get rid of the old
- Clean and sanitize tables
- Vacuum or sweep high-traffic areas, such as the toy section or craft room
- Wipe down board books/picture books
They're not the most fun activities in the world, but they can be extremely useful!
Zooniverse is an the world's largest platform for "people-powered research." Volunteers don't need any special training or equipment to help out - they simply need a computer and Internet access.
Volunteers can help in many projects! They could:
- count the orangutans in their nests
- enter data from old census reports
- count stars and help discover a supernova
- transcribe documents from the time of Shakespeare
- and lots more!
What can the library do? Some locations have laptops dedicated to working on these projects, and volunteers can sign in to work on them for hour-long blocks. They're being helpful and fulfilling their volunteering requirements at the same time! This is particularly useful for teens who need only a few hours.
My library currently has a monthly program for children called the Helping Hands Club. The club has a different project every month. At one meeting, they wrote thank you notes to local police officers and firefighters; at another, they made bookmarks to leave at the senior center. There are lots of things that kids can do!
- Make catnip mice or dog toys for the local animal shelter
- Participate in the Kindness Rocks program
- Write letters to active service members
- Assemble small bags for people at the homeless shelter (socks, handy wipes, granola bars, and a handwritten note telling the recipient that somebody cares)
- Write get-well cards to patients in the hospital
- Make "seed bombs" to help spread wildflowers
This idea could easily be adapted for other age groups, who could also do more advanced projects.
- Knitting or crocheting hats and scarves for a local homeless shelter or food bank
- Crochet octopuses for premature babies, as seen on the Martha Stewart Website
- Create no-sew blankets or pillows for animal shelters