San Mateo County Library created “Life Connects @ Your Library,” a new approach to library volunteering, aimed at engaging community members ages 50+. They also designed and delivered a pilot program for this cohort on an aspect of healthy aging related to social connectivity and interaction that utilized their new high-skilled volunteers. Activities included establishing a 10-member Advisory Group with representatives from various county agencies and social service organizations, assessing, via survey, current volunteer recruitment practices, and creating a volunteer coordinator position at each branch library. Five new, system-wide volunteer position descriptions were also crafted and posted on VolunteerMatch.com which resulted in the recruitment of 4 high-skilled volunteers, and a staff training was designed and delivered twice for 25 library staff that instructed them in improved volunteer recruitment and engagement practices. 85.7% of staff who attended the training felt it was very helpful. The library also identified three mid-life adult volunteers who helped plan and deliver three pilot programs (on community diversity and volunteerism) that were offered at two branch libraries. The pilot programs drew a total audience of 147 and 80% of mid-life adults in attendance reported the programs were of value to them. In particular, the feedback received regarding the diversity program was so great that it has inspired a plan to make it an annual event and to replicate it at other library branches.
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San Mateo County Library successfully used this author program to inspire community members to volunteer.