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Volunteers at the Library

1. Statement of purpose

West Florida Public Libraries aims to provide quality service to the residents of Escambia County and recognizes the important role volunteers play in achieving that goal. Volunteers allow the Library to expand and enhance the services it provides by supplementing, not replacing, the efforts of regular staff. Volunteers play an equally important role within the community, serving as advocates for the library. West Florida Public Libraries seeks to provide volunteers with meaningful service experiences to help them develop civic pride and personal satisfaction, and pledges to recognize their investments of time, talent, and energy.

2. Definition of a volunteer

A volunteer is any person over the age of 12 performing service on behalf of the Library of his or her own free will without compensation or the expectation of compensation (payment, health or other benefits, etc.) Volunteers may serve as individuals or as part of a group. Volunteer service may be provided on a one-time basis, periodically during special projects or events, or on a long-term scheduled basis. Long-term volunteers will not work for more than 3 months without having their position renewed.

Because it is a mandatory condition imposed by a legal authority, court-ordered community service is not considered volunteerism and cannot be accommodated by West Florida Public Libraries.

3. Types of volunteers

  • Adult volunteers are over the age of 18 and may serve individually or as part of a group. They perform a variety of tasks to be mutually determined with their supervisor. Volunteers working with children may be required to complete a background check.
  • Friends are members of the Friends of the Library who provide special services for the West Florida Public Library. While they generally provide service during special projects and events, they are welcome to volunteer as individuals on an ongoing basis.
  • Student volunteers are required to perform a prescribed amount of service as part of an academic or scholarship program (e.g., International Baccalaureate, Florida Bright Futures.) Supervisors will work with student volunteers to make sure their assignments meet established standards and can be completed within a set timeframe.
  • Youth volunteers are under the age of 18, and may serve individually or as part of a group. Youth volunteers generally serve in the Youth Services Department, but may serve in other areas of the library at the discretion of the department head or branch manager.

 Other volunteer opportunities:

  • Interns are students interested in completing an unpaid practicum as part of their Master’s Degree in Library Science. Intern assignments will reflect a level of complexity appropriate for entry-level library professionals under the supervision of staff librarians. Interested individuals should contact the Volunteer Coordinator for more information.

4. Qualifications for service

Specific qualifications for service will vary depending on the service assignment, but successful applicants will demonstrate the following:

  • Ability to interact positively with the public.
  • Willingness to perform a variety of projects and tasks.
  • Communication skills – Ability to listen actively, follow instructions, and ask questions if instructions are not clear.
  • Ability to complete assignments within the established timeframe and to fulfill volunteer commitments.
  • Ability to work as a team with staff and other volunteers.
  • Tolerance and respect for people of diverse lifestyles, cultures, religions, and values.

West Florida Public Libraries maintains a strong equal-opportunity policy. Volunteers are recruited, placed, trained, recognized, and dismissed on the basis of competence and job performance without regard to race, creed, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, national origin, marital status, disability, or political affiliation.

5. Becoming a volunteer

Prior to beginning service, anyone interested in becoming a volunteer must complete a volunteer application and submit it to the Volunteer Coordinator or WFPL Branch Manager. Applicants under the age of 18 must have their parent or guardian sign the application and submit a Parent Consent Form.

Applications may be submitted at any time, but applicants are not guaranteed immediate placement. Qualified applicants will be contacted for interviews as service opportunities arise and will assigned at the discretion of the Volunteer Coordinator or Branch Manager. Applications will be kept on file for one year.

The appropriate department head or branch manager (or another designee) will serve as the volunteer’s supervisor. Upon successful placement, the volunteer and supervisor will establish specific service assignments, length of assignment, and a mutually agreeable work schedule in advance of starting service. Most task assignments will depend on the interest and age of the volunteer. Volunteers will not be placed in positions dealing with confidential or sensitive information.

Supervisors will provide orientation along with timely and specific on-the-job training to provide volunteers with the information and skills needed to perform their assignment. It is the supervisor’s responsibility to provide the volunteer with sufficient guidance and assistance to complete his or her assigned tasks and to address any issues that may arise in the course of service. If the supervisor is not available, the volunteer may contact the Volunteer Coordinator with any questions or concerns.

6. Conditions of service

Volunteers must:

  • Interact positively with the public.
  • Have a willingness to perform a variety of projects and tasks
  • Listen actively, follow instructions, and ask questions if instructions are not clear.
  • Have a West Florida Public Libraries card in good standing.
  • Work within normal library hours unless otherwise specified by the Volunteer Coordinator or Branch Manager.

Abide by West Florida Public Libraries’ policies (see WFPL Volunteer Handbook that is to be provided at the start of service).

Volunteers are expected to sign in and out using the designated time sheet. They will be provided with an identification badge that must be worn while performing their service within the library.

As representatives of West Florida Public Libraries, volunteers are expected to maintain a pleasant attitude toward library users and staff. Rudeness or disrespect will not be tolerated. Volunteers will refer patrons with questions or concerns to library staff.

West Florida Public Libraries does not provide monetary compensation, medical, health, accident, worker’s compensation, or other legal benefits for any volunteer. The Library is not responsible for any personal injuries sustained while functioning as a volunteer, for personal property lost, stolen, or damaged in the course of service.

Although they receive no compensation, volunteers are considered representatives of West Florida Public Libraries and Escambia County, FL. As such, they are expected to abide by all rules established in West Florida Public Libraries (see WFPL Volunteer Handbook) in addition to applicable local, state, and federal laws. Failure to comply may result in termination of the volunteer assignment.

The library depends on its volunteers to complete their assigned tasks according to the established schedule. Volunteers are to approach attendance as they would with a regular job, and to clear any absences or tardiness with their supervisor in a timely manner (in advance, when possible.) Excessive absence or tardiness can result in termination of the service assignment. Volunteers wishing to end their assignment should notify their supervisor of their decision and their last day of service.

Volunteer assignments do not constitute an employment contract. The supervisor is under no obligation to retain volunteers and may make changes to or terminate the service assignment at any time and for any reason.

Volunteers interested in paid employment with West Florida Public Libraries do not receive preferential treatment in hiring decisions. They are free to include their service and supervisor in the application packet, but they must apply through Escambia County and will compete with all other applicants for the available position.

7. Volunteer recognition

Volunteers are a major asset to the West Florida Public Libraries and may receive periodic recognition for their services. Recognition will come in accordance with hours served or for the volunteer performing exceptional service and will be determined at a later date.

Student volunteers and interns will receive written documentation verifying successful completion of their service requirements.

Volunteers may request a letter of recommendation from their supervisor for academic or job purposes, to be provided at the supervisor’s discretion.

Contact Information:

West Florida Public Libraries
239 North Spring Street
Pensacola, Florida 32502
(850) 436-5060

This policy was reviewed, updated, and approved by the West Florida Public Libraries Board of Governance on August 11, 2014.