Further reading

1. No one size fits all approach exists, but the key to successful volunteer use is to create a mutually beneficial relationship between the library service and volunteer that benefits both actors, in addition to serving individual local community requirements. 2. Use of mechanisms that help to develop respect and understanding are key to the smooth functioning of a high quality library service. 3. Therefore relationship building between paid staff and volunteers, volunteers and library users, and between the volunteers themselves is important to enhance understanding and cohesion. This means managers need to find ways of ensuring that all library workers, paid or unpaid, understand the role they play in delivering a cohesive library service, in addition to the bigger picture. 4. The volunteer needs to be viewed as part of a larger team delivering the service. This helps build a sense of belonging, thereby enhancing ownership and loyalty, which positively benefits the library service in the longer term. 5. Communication is vital to a successful volunteering effort. Face-to-face communication with fellow volunteers, staff and the wider library service should be the primary mechanism required to counter misunderstandings and encourage cohesion, in addition to the use of other communication tools, such as social media. 6. It is important to ensure transparency across the whole library service, with the creation of clear lines of communication, such that all stakeholders understand their role, and know where the boundaries lie. 7. Physical library space has an important role to play in nurturing relationships between paid staff and volunteers. Making sure that the volunteers and paid staff have the time and space to come together as a team is important. 8. Effective volunteer management and clear roles/responsibilities helps to counter misunderstandings, and ensures a professional approach. 9. Volunteers need to be trained so they fully understand their role, service expectations and standards, in addition to the bigger picture. This costs money, and takes time, but helps foster an appropriate quality of service delivery. 10. Library staff managing volunteers require the appropriate skills that will enable them to get the best out of their volunteers. Some library staff may require additional training so that their skill set is appropriate for supporting the current hybrid service delivery. This includes topics such as partnership working, intrinsic reward management and project delivery. 11. Customer focus is very important for ensuring volunteers deliver a service that is of a sufficient standard. 12. It is important to publicise the positive benefits of using volunteers with all stakeholders including the wider user community, in order to deal with potential misunderstandings and resistance.13. The use of volunteer relationship management (VRM) strategies via a range of techniques and technologies is vital to ensure the library service matches wider service priorities

  •  V for Volunteer – a dystopian reality – A Medley of Extemporanea. Dawn Finch interviews an anonymous museum volunteer who makes clear that volunteering, without support, is deeply problematic. Numbers of volunteers are severely down over a few years as people discover it’s real work or go off to do something else, council fails to support. Volunteer thinks best thing to have done, had they of known what they do today, would be to have campaigned harder to keep paid staff. Questions long-term future of museum, how repairs will be funded and thinks they will need to introduce charging soon. (September 2016)
  • Community Responses to Local Austerity – Experiences from the ‘Community Library’ – Jackson Law (2017). Undergraduate dissertation including literature review and interviews with volunteer libraries. “community libraries are found to successfully prevent closure and even to produce more vibrant and community- engaged library services. However, issues of coercion, inequalities in volunteer capital and concerns over the long term sustainability of community libraries reveal the pressures faced by community responses to austerity. This paper concludes by arguing that in the long term, community libraries and community managed responses to austerity are likely to contribute to inequalities in service provision across the UK as they continue to find success in affluent areas but struggle to survive in areas of existing deprivation.”
  • Community libraries: good practice toolkit – DCMS / Libraries Taskforce. Best practice guide for volunteer libraries, March 2016
  • Community Libraries: Key considerations for community organisations seeking to take over library services and assets – Locality. “This guide forms part of a series of resources produced for the My Community programme, which is funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government. This guide explores the subject of community managed and/or owned libraries, and contains advice that is relevant to both established and new community organisations, as well as Town and Parish Councils who are interested in exploring how they may play a role in supporting and developing local community library services and buildings.”
  • Sheffield – Community library: Frecheville, Sheffield – Gov.uk / Libraries Taskforce. “Frecheville Library and Learning Centre is an associate library and a registered not for profit charity. Community volunteers took over the running of the library on the 29 September 2014 and are supported by Sheffield City Council (SCC).” Looks at deal with Sheffield council, role in the community and numbers and roles of volunteers.  35 volunteers. “The library is open for 23 hours per week. This is an extra 2 hours per week than when it was run by the council as the library no longer closes for lunch.”. Challenges include maintenance and updating technology (June 2016)
  • Warwickshire – Community library: Harbury, Warwickshire – Gov.uk / Libraries Taskforce. A look at the staffing, role and funding of a volunteer library. “The library was previously open for 2 days per week and is now open for 5 full weekdays and a half day on Saturday.” … “The library has worked hard to encourage usage by local children and in addition to holiday book schemes initiated by the county library service, they have organised “Tunes and Tales” which has brought in families with babies and toddlers. ” …”A major factor in the success of Harbury Village Library has been the 3,100 books donated by villagers or purchased through the library’s Buy a Book Scheme. These books are administered by a separate computer system (Book Cat) which allows them to be kept within the library. ” £10,000 income per year due to café and other ventures.
  • Charter for strengthening relations between paid staff and volunteers – TUC and Volunteering England.
  • 2014: Are community libraries effective? – MA dissertation with wide range of responses.
  • The Positive and Negative Impact of Using Volunteers in Public Libraries – UCL / Gina Baber. “The following essay is a discussion on the impact of using volunteers in Public Libraries. It will focus on the experiences of Library Professionals and Volunteers; and consider
    the overall effect of Volunteers on the Public Library Service.” (July 2018)
  • CILIP policy on volunteering in libraries – Revised 2012.  Directly against job substitution by volunteers.
  • Community Libraries Research – ACE/LGA 2013.
  • Community Managed Libraries – MLA, May 2011.
  • Community engagement in public libraries: an evaluation of the Big Lottery Fund’s Community Libraries ProgrammeMLA, March 2011.  A similarly pro-volunteer report to the recently publoshed Community Managed Libraries report.  However, this one concentrates more on the positive impact of using volunteers to complement existing library staff rather than replacing them.
  • Evidence on the use of volunteers in libraries  and on volunteer-run libraries  – SLIC 2015.
  • Formal response to Trafford council’s consultation – Hands Off Old Trafford Library.  An excellent survey of current (Feb 2012) problems regarding volunteering in urban/less prosperous areas.
  • Libraries: care in the community? – BookSeller, 4th June 2012.  Excellent overview of the situation so far, with pros and cons.
  • Library Campaign magazine special on volunteers – Summer 2013
  • Library volunteer guidance – Unison, June 2013. “This guidance document sets out UNISON’s policy on the use of volunteers in public libraries alongside staff and offers guidance to branches on dealing with the issue of volunteering.  It provides information on the instances where volunteers should be  receiving the National Minimum Wage.  This guidance does not cover the issue of volunteers in ‘community managed libraries’ which are no longer under the control of the local authority.”
  • Love your libraries: campaign pack for branches – UNISON, June 2011, p.6-10.
  • On permanent loan? Community managed libraries: the volunteer perspective – National Federation of Women’s Institutes, Jan 2013.
  • SCL policy on volunteering in libraries – Revised 2012.  Strongly in favour of volunteers and accepting of job substitution “within a professionally managed framework”,
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