Thursday, May 6, 2010

Volunteers present varied gifts

What do teens, retired men and women, Santa Claus, and therapy dogs all have in common? The answer is that library volunteers often fall into at least one of these categories.

Fauquier County Public Library recently honored its volunteers during a celebration held in Warrenton. Those attending soon learned how valuable library volunteers are and how diverse their skills. The library board chairman, the library director and library staff members representing every branch and all library services stepped up to the podium, one after another, to acknowledge the contributions of library volunteers.

The audience learned that over the past year 165 people and three dogs volunteered more than 5,200 hours of their time to the library. Library Board Chairman Barbara Severin pointed out that, according to the Volunteer Virginia website, the hourly value of a Virginia volunteer is $20.53. By this calculation, the monetary value of last year’s contribution by library volunteers exceeded $106,000.

Volunteers were involved with day-to-day operations, donating their time at the Warrenton, Bealeton, and John Marshall libraries. These volunteers helped process thousands of new and donated books, repaired and cleaned materials, transcribed historical documents, and assisted staff with special projects and programs that included such highlights as the appearance of Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus.

Sixty teens donated approximately 600 hours to ensure the success of the 2009 summer reading program by registering participants and assisting staff with program preparations. For many, this volunteer service was their first work experience, giving them a valuable introduction to the working world while benefitting the library. Many of the teen volunteers had participated in the library’s summer reading programs as children or were still participating in the teen summer reading programs, too.

Forty-five Friends of the Fauquier Library volunteers donated more than 2,500 hours to operate the Book Cellar, a used bookstore located in Warrenton. (See more about the Book Cellar below.) Proceeds from the Book Cellar fund most of the library’s special events for children, teens and adults, including the summer reading programs, family movies, science surprises and other afterschool programs. The Friends of the Library also generously sponsor the annual volunteer reception.

Sixteen volunteers donated 32 hours to guarantee the success of the library’s Gumdrop Square programs, which offer Head Start children an opportunity to enjoy a holiday story time at the popular holiday venue and to “shop” for gifts for family members.

Several other volunteers were acknowledged for their ongoing contributions. Honor students from Liberty High School spend every week throughout the school year at the Bealeton Library tutoring grade school children in any subject they need help with. Translators present beginning Internet classes in Spanish at the Bealeton Library and help staff prepare library informational brochures in Spanish as well. Literacy Volunteers help present English as a Second Language classes at all three branches.

The Cedar Run Garden Club was recognized for maintaining the beautiful gardens at the Warrenton and Bealeton libraries year-round, periodically rejuvenating the gardens with new plantings. The small, but charming garden at the Warrenton Library surrounds a lovely fountain with a bronze statue of a girl reading donated by renowned sculptor Heath King in the early1990s.

It was noted that the five Library Board of Trustees members volunteer countless hours planning and overseeing the library’s management in order to ensure Fauquier citizens enjoy the best library services possible.

Finally, three dogs and their owners were recognized for their participation in the John Marshall Library’s “Paws to Read” program. The certified pet therapy dogs listen quietly as children read to them. This is an encouraging experience for young readers, who gain confidence reading aloud to their nonjudgmental canine listeners.

Mrs. Severin pointed out how gratifying it is to be able to point to the volunteer contributions each year when the library board submits its annual justification for the library’s operating budget to the board of supervisors. She commented that such strong volunteer support in all areas of library operations is persuasive evidence of citizen commitment to the library.

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