Reasons to Celebrate: Libraries and their Dedicated Volunteers

The King County Library System is looking forward to several events in April, celebrating not only libraries and staff, but also all those who volunteer their time and energy to enhance the work of libraries.

National Library Week, April 3-9, kicks off the month to honor libraries and their employees throughout the country. Governor Jay Inslee has signed a state proclamation calling libraries “cornerstones of democracy” which promote the free exchange of information and ideas for all, while also offering opportunities and services for everyone. In the proclamation, the Governor urges all Washingtonians to join him in observing National Library Week by visiting their local libraries and expressing appreciation for staff.

We also celebrate National Volunteer Week, April 17-23. It is a time to recognize the enormous value volunteers contribute to libraries, and to express gratitude for their dedication.

KCLS has hundreds of volunteers who extend the reach of the library, and offer meaningful connections between their communities and the Library System. They tutor and mentor people of all ages, providing growth opportunities from homework help and language and literacy skills to small business counseling. Friends of the Library are important advocates who also raise money for local programming through book sales. City-appointed Library Advisory Boards (LABs) enhance communication between communities and their local library.

Volunteers also stretch taxpayers’ dollars by helping the Library System provide services beyond what is possible in the annual budget. In 2021, 516 volunteers contributed a total of 16,712 hours to support KCLS programs and services. This included Study Zone Plus (SZP), our after-school homework help program. This past year, 320 SZP volunteers put in 11,081 hours helping improve students’ skills.

Literacy programs also got a boost from volunteers. Talk Time, which facilitates conversations between English learners, was successful thanks to 325 hours contributed by volunteers. Plaza Communitaria, an adult literacy program that helps Spanish speakers complete a primary or secondary diploma, was made possible with the help of volunteers who contributed 566 hours.

Teen volunteers became especially active during the pandemic, and continue to contribute their time and interests to KCLS. They have formed Teen Advisory Groups, working with local librarians to create online programs of interest to tweens and teens. Teens also volunteer to write book reviews through a program launched last year.

KCLS could not do all that we do without our volunteers and we are grateful for all of them. They bring expertise and assistance, joining forces with our staff to build a sense of community, increasing opportunities for everyone.

This month, we hope you can visit your local library, get to know and thank your hard-working library staff – and even sign up to volunteer yourself!