After graduating at Pitt and having some extra free time (so much extra free time--it's almost alien), I decided to find a unique way to volunteer in libraries. With that, I went to Volunteer Match to find virtual opportunities. Surprisingly, it was not too hard to connect with someone and begin. I ended up finding a great gig with the San Mateo County Library system in California.
SMCL asked that I write 2-3 blog posts a month, focusing on my hobbies. They have organized their blogs into three categories: adults, teens, and parents/kids. I had the freedom to write about anything I wanted, as long as I could relate it to the library's services, programs, or resources. Because they had a shortage of teen posts, I try to focus in that area. I have created blog posts on video games vs. board games, the zombie fad, ESRB ratings in games, and for adults, I've written about knitting and arm knitting. My goal has been to try to branch out in what I write, but to also be entertaining and intriguing to my audience.
I have volunteered for a few months, and my first post was recently published. I discussed NaNoWriMo--National Novel Writing Month, a movement encouraging writers to compose a 50,000 word novel throughout November. The blog post was fun to write, and I enjoyed perusing the NaNoWriMo site to see how they support potential writers. Although I have not been able to write my own novel this month, I hope my blog post encouraged others to at least begin writing. See the post here.
While sometimes I get discouraged or don't feel like writing, I think this volunteer opportunity has been a mutually beneficial experience. I can volunteer at my own pace, challenge myself to analyze what I do and think about how that can be conveyed to audiences, and I get to put my Bachelor's degree to use. Also, I keep up on the other blog posts and am always seeking advice or help about what people would like to read.
Finally, the encouragement from the SMCL staff is great. They set me up with their policies and procedures through virtual training, have stayed in contact with me despite busy schedules, and are responsive to whatever I write. I am not sure others would be so helpful to a volunteer thousands of miles away. I have been able to build small networks in a new library, get my thoughts and words out there, and keep volunteering for a cause I love. I can only hope more posts will be posted and people will be interested in my writing! This has been a delightful virtual volunteer opportunity.
Recent MLIS graduate & lover of writing. This is a narrative of my first look into the librarian profession.