THANK YOU VOLUNTEERS!
When your Palm Harbor Library was born about 40 years ago, it began like any other new library. It started out of a car trunk, moved onto a rental house, then a Church (for us it was the “White Chapel” in downtown PH) and then onward to the current 26,000 sf. ft. facility at Nebraska Ave just off US19. And the library also began like so many others with just volunteers. The normal thing would then be for a city or county government to take over, hire employees to run the library and the volunteers would assume a supporting role.
Well, that kinda happened here…but not really.
For those of you live in Palm Harbor, you know it’s a bit unique. It’s made up of about 59,000 residents in an unincorporated part of the County thus no city. We rely on County services and yet the library, although the building and property are owned by the County, is not run by the County. Instead we have a quasi-governmental agency comprised of community volunteers who oversees both the library and parks and recreation. The agency reports directly to the Board of County Commissioners. I say all that to say this…when the library made that final jump from its humble car trunk origins, yes it did hire employees but volunteers remained as an integral part in just about all library services.
Today, volunteers serve in Board capacities such as the Palm Harbor Community Services Agency (our overall governing agency), the “Advisory Council”, “Friends of the Library”, “Foundation Board” and the “Literacy Council”. They also work at the Check-Out Desk, Adult and Children’s Services, Tech Services, the Book Store and at times serve as roving ambassadors. They also have participated on committees such as the library’s 40th anniversary celebration. The newest endeavor to get volunteers more engaged is the “Volunteer Advisory Council”. This group meets with the Library Director once a month to review the roles and tasks of volunteers and how best the library can say “thank you” to all of them.
Well, here’s how we say thanks:
– Annual “Volunteer Breakfast” where staff makes breakfast for the volunteers then entertain them with a big show
-Creation of a Volunteer Wall where photos of all volunteers past and present are displayed
-Naming of library areas for volunteers who made significant contributions such as the “Jane Ashton Literacy Study Rooms”
-Plaques commemorating five years of service and more
-And now, a monthly after- hours “social” just for volunteers
Frankly, volunteers are the lifeblood of this library and over the years we have been fortunate to have several hundred of them give their precious time to make the library what it is today. On average, there’s usually at any given time about 20+ staff members and about 150+ volunteers however many of the volunteers have moved on leaving a big void of support. To those volunteers past and present, thank you! To those potential volunteers out there, consider helping out at your library. We sure could use your help.
When you think about it, with all the volunteers, Palm Harbor Library is truly a “community library”. Yea that may sound a bit corny but you know something? It has a nice ring to it. Why not help us with our next 40 years? We got a place just for you.
Gene P. Coppola, Library Director