National Volunteer Week is an opportunity to recognize and thank the volunteers who lend their time, talent, and voices to make a difference in our community! We are fortunate to have so many volunteers who are passionate about the Library’s mission and generously share their skills in a variety of long-term and short-term commitments.
Many of our volunteers dedicate their time to the Friends of the Library (Monroe County Public Library Foundation), advocating for the Library and helping raise funds to support programs, collections, and staff development. Volunteers are also essential to Volunteers in Tutoring Adult Learners (VITAL) services––so important that they’re in the name! These volunteers tutor learners in reading, writing, math, and English-language skills, helping them attain greater life success through improved literacy. Volunteer opportunities also exist in the children’s and teen spaces, digital creativity center, and much more (during non-pandemic times)!
For National Volunteer Week, we’ve highlighted seven volunteers who provide extraordinary leadership that serves to expand support for Library projects, enhance the level and quality of patron services, and provide supplemental expertise that makes the Library a beloved institution in our community. We’re inspired by their dedication and thankful that they choose us as their place of service!
John is a longtime advocate of the Library and member of the Friends of the Library, serving in various board and committee positions since 2010. In his current role as chair of the Bookstore committee, John helped steer the committee to think of innovative ways to operate, despite the challenges of COVID-19, by helping launch a virtual bookstore! “John's commitment to the Friends of the Library and their commitment to provide funding and advocating for the Library is critical to the Library's success,” said Library Director Marilyn Wood. “His willingness to invest his time and efforts to improve their impact exemplify the best in a volunteer.”
During Shane’s eight years with VITAL, he has led 32 English as a New Language (ENL) conversation groups, providing conversational practice to hundreds of students! A learner shared their experience with us, “Although Shane is busy as an IU student, he is always passionate to open his English class and it seems that he contemplates what kind of teaching method would be good for students. Because of him, I learned many useful English words and how to speak in English with correct expressions. I really appreciate his effort for international students, including me.”
Elspeth Hayden is Secretary of the Friends of the Library Board and manages the Friends’ Instagram account! A constant advocate for the Library, Elspeth also helped to create and starred in a video highlighting the bookstore. Emily Bedwell, Friends of the Library Board President, said “Elspeth is an amazing asset. She's willing to jump into any new project with both feet, and she keeps us all in the know and on track in her capacity as Secretary. She's an invaluable part of the Friends!”
Scott is a game developer and programmer who works on our Dungeons & Dragons activities for teens. Scott also collaborates on our D&D Library Talk podcast. “Scott is truly a phenomenal volunteer who has contributed so much to the lives of so many of our teens. I am always blown away by the quality and depth of the work he does,” said Sam Ott, Teen Librarian and volunteer supervisor. “Scott is constantly thinking of ways to provide more meaningful service and has donated his time, talent, and materials to ensure the Library's gaming programs and resources are of the highest quality.”
During her five years volunteering with VITAL, Hiromi has individually tutored English-language learners and led many English-language groups, including groups on writing, poetry, short stories, and more! Hiromi also assists at special events and helps recruit new volunteers. “Hiromi is a dedicated and faithful volunteer, regularly sharing her time and talents at VITAL special events as well in the classroom,” said VITAL Coordinator Bethany Turrentine. “Also a local author, Hiromi shares her language skills to help new English-language learners improve their vocabulary, reading, and writing skills.”
Patsy has tutored multiple learners in VITAL and is a dedicated volunteer with the Friends of the Library, acting as Vice President of the Board. Patsy has also lent her skills as an actress, recording a PSA to promote VITAL to the community and participating in our Bicentennial Birthday Song video! “Patsy heads up several committees for the Friends and does them all with energy and a positive attitude,” said Bedwell. “There are always new challenges to tackle, and she allows people to be heard and helps guide us as the Vice President this year. She is a great sounding board for me, and she helps me lead better!”
The Friends of the Library Bookstore Committee advises the Bookstore Operator on the operation of the Bookstore and sale of merchandise, and plays a large role in the organization and promotion of periodic book sales. “The Bookstore Committee is a dedicated group of volunteers that provide great care and a lot of heart in their service to the Library.” said Loraine Martin, Administrative and Volunteer Coordinator. “They are passionate and thoughtful about all they do, and have been extremely creative and innovative in adapting their planning and operations throughout the pandemic. They are part of the fabric that makes our library a wonderful place to be and appreciated by our community.” The current volunteer members are John Baumert (chair), Elspeth Hayden, Marilyn Irwin, Carol Pierce, Patrick Murray.
In Memory Of
Barbara “Barb” Fisher, a dear friend of the VITAL program, passed away on April 1, 2021. Learn more about Barb and her involvement with VITAL.
Interested in becoming a volunteer at our Library? The pandemic has limited our current volunteer openings, however, we expect these to increase soon! Explore our new volunteer database to learn which areas of the Library offer volunteer opportunities. Apply now and we’ll contact you as opportunities arise that match your interests and availability! If you have questions about volunteering, please contact our volunteer coordinator, Loraine Martin, at 812-349-3060 or lmartin [at] mcpl.info (subject: Volunteer%20Question) .