Sunday, 16 October 2011

Cpd23 - Thing 22 - Volunteering

Thing 22 asks us to consider volunteering.

As a child I volunteered for lots of things, mostly charity stuff and helping out every Saturday at the coffee morning. However, as an adult, it is not something I have ever done.  I used to work at a children's bookshop but wanted to break into publishing so was very pleased when I was offered some volunteering work at Hodder. I knew I would have to do this if I wanted to gain any experience. In the end I cancelled it as I was offered my first library post and I decided to see where that route would take me.

Luckily, I have always been in paid work but would volunteer if I knew it would give me a skill of which I knew was lacking or if it was something I genuinely cared about and felt I could help with.

Sadly, I think most decent volunteering intern type posts can only be taken up by people who can afford not to be in paid work, although there will be a small few who take on paid as well as voluntary to pay the bills. While I agree that volunteering is very important for both the volunteer and for the service being provided there is a danger that they will only be given the most menial tasks as these are the wages which are being saved and not be taught the skills they are after. I've heard too that some graduate trainee type posts are like this too - the trainee just keeps doing the basic jobs but doesn't get to move on and be shown all the other tasks which they should be.

This has always been prevalent in the media and politics, as well as other industries which affluent people tend to flock towards. However, the deal is that once you have done your time you will reap the rewards. I'm not sure this is the type of volunteering that people are expecting from libraries. Most likely it will be more like the local charity shop which is regularly closed due to lack of volunteers. Maybe not - with more information sector jobs being scrapped despite the dismal literacy rates and despite the lack of knowledge management amongst government officials we will all have more free time to volunteer!

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