Have you been looking for a way to help out at your kids’ school, but you’re not quite cut out to be a room mom? Or maybe you’re too introverted to be an active member of the PTA? Or perhaps you only have an hour to spare each week, but you’d love to help out somehow. Enter: the school library. Literally, I mean, go in the school library.
If you consider yourself a geek or nerd, libraries likely conjure many fond memories of your own days as a student. Finding new worlds to get lost in, hiding in the corner and reading during a free period, or even browsing through things that your own kids have never heard of, like “card catalogs” and “encyclopedias.” Having many such happy memories myself, and being too shy to be active in the PTA, I chose my daughter’s school library for my volunteering efforts.
And I love it so much that I just had to tell you all about it.
Here are 7 reasons why volunteering at the school library is a fun, fantastic way to give your time.
1. Learn about current books and authors and recommend them to your kids. After checking in the pile of books sitting on the counter every week, you start getting an idea of what titles are popular and what genres kids are getting into at their age. (Spoiler: Graphic novels.) If a picture book catches my eye that I know my kindergartener will enjoy, I write down the title to check it out for my daughter at the public library later.
My favorite section, though, is the chapter books/YA novels that I would have loved to read as a kid myself. Or, you know, now. So not only might you find your kid’s next book to love, you might find one for yourself, too.
2. Help a busy librarian. The school librarian has a lot more to do during the day than fiddle with the books on the shelves. He or she needs to write lesson plans, order books, coordinate school literacy initiatives, and find out just what the kids in the hallway are shrieking about. Your 30 minutes checking in books and shelving them helps them get it all done and actually take a lunch break.
3. Meet the kids in your child’s class. Some school libraries have weekly class times and allow a parent to volunteer during their child’s lesson. Checking out the books for your kid’s classmates lets you put faces to the names you hear about at the dinner table every night.
4. Shelving books is delightfully mind-numbing. I might have deadlines looming or a problem nagging me, but for one hour every week, all I worry about is finding 636.81. (Kindergarten girls really like books about cats.) Putting the books back on the shelves is a wonderful way to focus on something else for a little bit.
5. Help advocate for your school library by getting a firsthand look at where it might need some help. “They’re always under threat of budget cuts, and parents play a big part in saving libraries and librarians,” says Jackie Reeve, GeekMom’s resident school librarian. Spending time in there every week might highlight some problem areas (outdated books? in need of donations?) that can help you take your volunteer efforts further.
6. Get crafty. The school librarian once asked for my help with the books in the window display and you’d have thought I won the lottery I was so giddy. If you enjoy crafty stuff at all, helping with the bulletin boards and setting out books to display can help you get creative for a good cause.
7. Nerd alert: Learn the Dewey Decimal System. There’s something strangely satisfying about directing a curious kid to the Ancient Egypt section or a book about the Loch Ness monster without having to look it up on the computer. This probably doesn’t seem like a huge benefit or useful life skill—unless you’re a book nerd, which I personally am, and I have a feeling you might be, too.