Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Friend of the Library (FOL) programme

Just read a BBC News article that says "... volunteering can be good for the CV, the waistline - even the love life." What a pitch: Improve your employability, your looks and your love life. Folks from the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) ought to adopt it as their tagline. :)

Which reminds me how many Singaporeans are not aware of NLB's Friend of the Library (FOL) programme. The FOL information is not on the NLB website, which is something that would be corrected in the near future... soon... if all goes according to plans...

I might as well use my lunch time to do a pitch for my colleague, Valerie, who works for the Community Partnerships & Outreach (CPO) office.

Typically, we have volunteers who tell stories, or keep the peace in the libraries, or attend to customers etc. We have an active group of Senior FOLs (retirees).

Students could help under the Ministry of Education Community Involvement Programme (CIP). Ok, I've read some student blogs out there who post that their CIP time in libraries are boring. I won't deny that, but reason is this -- most students can only commit to 6 hours. Most don't understand that library jobs can be complex and there are quality standards to follow (e.g. we have to ensure volunteer storytellers are trained also).

So unfortunately, we can only let them do shelving and shelf-reading. It's an important task, mind you, but admittedly not the most exciting. But hey, that's experiential learning for you.

The library also welcome ideas from volunteers about different ways they would want to serve the libraries & its users. My CPO colleagues would love to have a chat with you. At the time of this post, NLB is interested in setting up and running of Reading Clubs/ Groups.

BTW, some libraries overseas charge people a fee to join as a library volunteer! They are usually a semi-independent registered group, who will help raise funds for the library and run some library activities.



  1. hey I can leave a msg now!! Anyway, I was a FOL at Geylang East library. I went there to help out in scanning in the discard books info every day during my lunch break!!

    As a library student, I am very interested in any special internship and fellowship programs, no, I don't mind doing shelving and shelf-reading BUT. Here in Perth we do have a group of volunteers who choose and do delivery of books to housebound patrons.

    Oh, we too accept internship from the library schools, that was how I got my 3 jobs (at the same time), loving it!

  2. In your case, you have an affinity for libraries. For students who have to complete the mandatory 6 hours, they probably don't see it that way. And worse, they might think a librarian's job is all just shelving and shelf-reading. As I said, nothing wrong with those jobs, but they think that's all there is to librarianship.

    Of course, it's the librarians who have to correct such perception problems. I don't expect the student to know all this.

  3. ah wei5:39 pm

    hmmm.. looks interesting..

    perhaps more publicity for it might be good.. i've got 2 friends who are interested in temping for National Library. If they don't mind.. this might be a good alternative (volunteering instead of getting paid) too.. thanks for the info (& mini publicity), ivan!!

    in fact.. i think i might consider too..

    starry007's friend :P

  4. This is interesting... I like rearranging library books, if I happen to see any that are not in the correct place! Maybe I'll check the volunteer program when I go back to sg next month hehe... I wonder if the library provides 'research services/point you in the right direction' sort of thing for the public. I used to do such things for Google Researcher and I guess that sort of thing would be fun in a real-life context...


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