East students volunteer at the library

They shelve hundreds of books, assist with story time sessions, help with organizing craft materials and register young children: they are East students who volunteer for countless hours at the Cherry Hill Public Library during summer break.

Over the past 4 years, the teen volunteer program has developed with more than 40 active and trained students who volunteer over the summer. This program seeks to strengthen connections between the library and the local community.

“Volunteers are a valuable asset in making sure our library runs smoothly,” said Nancy Baasch-Schweizer, who is the volunteer coordinator for the Cherry Hill Public Library.Through recruiting young volunteers, who are as young as 12 years old, the library provides more outreach in the community. These young students, including students from East, have responsibilities ranging from being reading club assistants to assisting with events and programs.

As reading club assistants, students register patrons for Summer Reading Clubs and explain details of the program to parents and children. The volunteers also have the task of logging in information for each child and their individual award prizes. Although for teens these tasks might not seem very strenuous, when there are many different families looking to register at one time, volunteers must be able to stay organized as well as communicate and work well with others. Some students also volunteer to be a teen book buddy and help younger children build and retain reading skills. They also listen to their “buddies” or the younger children read aloud and also communicate with them to be actively engaged.

The teen volunteer program helps the library make the most of the librarian’s time and expertise especially because the volunteers take on some of the most time-consuming tasks. Some of these tasks include shelving library materials in proper order, organizing registration paperwork and performing clerical projects such as filing and typing.

“Volunteering at the library is a great way for me to serve my community and also gain work experience,” said Lele Meng (’15), who has volunteered for the library for 3 years. “[Volunteering] is a great way to earn community service hours, but honestly it’s just a really fun experience.”

Volunteering at the library can be a very pleasant and rewarding experience and it is available for anyone that is willing to go through the application process. Although being a good communicator is important as a volunteer for the library, the tasks that some of these volunteers are asked to perform are not always brain stimulating or social. There are several positions that require students to work in a solitary environment. Some tasks require concentration and the ability to organize a great number of items.

Baasch-Schweizer said, “Our teen volunteers are assigned to clerical tasks such as shelving, sorting, and emptying the bookdrop. Sometimes they also help with computer tutoring, teen programs, or the children’s summer reading program.”

While East may not require its students to fulfill a certain amount of community service hours, that definitely does not stop students from volunteering.