Library offers new ways for involvement

The Best Times Digital Edition

By Elissa Andre

Helping others is often considered a strong Midwestern value.

So, it comes as no surprise that Kansas ranks above the national average when it comes to volunteering with 37% of residents serving their communities in some way. Covid-19 disrupted volunteer efforts for many organizations, but also accelerated changes that were already in the works.

One of those new trends is called “hybrid volunteering,” a combination of onsite and virtual volunteer opportunities.

Johnson County Library is one of those places where new virtual opportunities were developed.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, we needed time to figure out how to safely bring volunteers back,” reports Volunteer Service Manager Amber Bourek Slater. “We discovered new ways volunteers could help us from home.”

Virtual volunteer opportunities include writing book reviews for the library’s website, creating bookmarks and cards that are included with book deliveries to homebound patrons through the HomeConnect program and teaching English Language Learners Conversational Classes on Zoom.

One volunteer who transitioned from in person to a virtual volunteer was Deb Beyer.

“When I retired, I began looking for a good fit for my available time and talents,” she said. “My daughter is a librarian, so it just seemed like a good place to start. Johnson County Library turned out to be a wonderful family to join.”

For eight years, Beyer had helped shelve holds materials every week at the Corinth and Leawood-Pioneer libraries. In May 2020, she began designing beautiful cards for Home-Connect patrons. The library’s Development Department then approached her about creating handwritten thank you cards
for the Johnson County Library Foundation’s supporters.

Porch drops were coordinated to safely get Beyer the supplies. When the letters are complete, she drops them in the mail.

“It is nice to be able to stay connected with the library but remain healthy and safe at the same time. But I sure do miss seeing my library friends face to face,” Deb said. Beyer also encourages anyone to consider serving at the library.

“Volunteering offers an outlet for one’s skills that may be lying dormant,” she added. “It is a great way to feel fulfilled and helpful and make wonderful friends.”

To learn more about in-person and virtual volunteer opportunities available at Johnson County Library, please visit jocolibrary.org/support/development or contact the volunteer service coordinator at [email protected].

Elissa Andre is external communication manager at Johnson County Library.