Volunteering in libraries

Library news and updates

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Stock from across The Libraries Consortium (TLC) is now available to Surrey Library members.

You can place reservations on titles in the catalogue regardless of where they are in the consortium. This is a huge increase in the choice of books and other lending materials available including foreign language stock and specialist collections; Borrowers will now have access to over eight million items of stock from over 380 branches.

Your questions answered.

Volunteering with Surrey Libraries is a great way to meet new people, learn new skills and make a difference in your community.

Choose a role to suit you and share your skills or learn new ones.

You can volunteer with us as much or as little as you want, from running weekly rhymetime sessions, to helping at occasional author events, or supporting new computer users with your digital skills, it is up to you.

How can I volunteer?

Libraries are great places to volunteer and there are many ways to get involved. Have a look at the various opportunities we offer to find out which would suit you best. Or, tell us about the skills you would like to share.

Customer support volunteer

Are you passionate about libraries, love books and enjoy meeting people? Then why not become a customer support volunteer at Merstham Library or Lightwater Library?

In this role you will support library customers to use the library, its services and activities (at Merstham Library you will be working alongside a member of library staff). You will need good communication skills as you will be taught how to deal with enquiries from the public, although you will refer more complex enquiries to staff. To do this role you will need a friendly and patient manner, together with a willingness to learn how the library works. The minimum age for this role is 18 years.

Typical tasks will be:

  • Welcoming library visitors.
  • Assisting people at the customer desk, referring more complex enquiries and tasks to staff.
  • Supporting routine duties, such as unpacking book crates, locating books and other resources, shelving and book presentation.
  • Supporting the opening and closing of the library.
  • Supporting customers to use library resources and self-service facilities, including assisting people to make cash payments at the self-service kiosks.

Other tasks may include:

  • Using the online library catalogue to help customers find resources.
  • Assisting the customers using the library's public computers and printing. (We are also supported by Digital Buddy volunteers who assist with digital training and enquiries and to whom you can signpost customers).
  • Helping prepare displays and support events.
  • Supporting our library stock maintenance.

Please note that only staff may access our library database, and volunteers at Merstham will not be asked to take cash payments (which is done by staff).

Ideally, you will need to offer a regular morning or afternoon four hour shift for this role. At Lightwater Library, this would be on the Community Day which is every Wednesday.

You will agree to support Surrey County Council's policies, procedures, vision, values, and behaviours and agree to undertaking any training required. You will be required to wear a "Volunteer" badge and lanyard.

To volunteer with us you should:

  • Be friendly and approachable.
  • Have good communication skills and the ability to deal with enquiries.
  • Be confident in the basic use of computers and the internet.

We will give you training, and local staff will provide ongoing support.

Have a look at our Expression of Interest form to see if there are any vacancies for this role available near you.

Digital support volunteer

Could you use your digital skills and experience to assist our library users develop their confidence in digital technology? You could enable them to access employment and training, use online services, become more independent and reduce isolation.

Or would you be interested in helping to develop more specialist opportunities for those more proficient in computer use? They might wish to learn or utilise new skills such as filming, exploring family history or developing our Makerspace area.

Typical tasks could include:

  • One-to-one support and encouragement to boost confidence and help people to help themselves with computer basics.
  • Help to run clubs, classes, seminars and one-to-one training – offering support with a range of digital technology, websites and programs.
  • Guide customers in using the library catalogue and website to access Surrey Libraries' digital and online resources.
  • Run a Code Club, Lego Club, Litcraft or other digital activity clubs for children and adults.
  • Use your film-making or photography skills to lead workshops creating a video, stop animation, or create promotional films for start-up businesses.

We welcome your digital ideas!

To volunteer with us for this role you will need to be:

  • Friendly and approachable.
  • Confident in basic use of computer and the internet but not necessarily an expert.
  • Able to communicate with learners of all ages to share knowledge and skills.
  • Patient and understanding, having the ability to motivate and encourage others.
  • Enthusiastic about digital making and have an interest in new technology and equipment, crafts, or skills such as 3D printing, Raspberry Pis, and programming.

We will give you training, and local staff will provide ongoing support.

Have a look at our Expression of Interest form to see if there are any vacancies for this role available near you.

Events and activities volunteer

Libraries aren't just about books! Surrey Libraries is committed to providing learning, cultural, well-being and fun events for our users. We are looking for volunteers to support or lead activities such as reading groups, craft clubs, conversing in other languages, creative writing sessions, children's rhymetimes and storytimes, coding clubs, Filmspace and author events.

We welcome your ideas to introduce a new activity or event to the library – talk to staff in your local library about starting a group, running an event or helping with our current ongoing activities, and about any skills you'd like to share.

You can be involved at any level, from having an idea for an activity, to organising an event or just helping out on the day, depending on what you feel comfortable with. Typical tasks could include:

  • Introducing ideas for new activities or events in the library.
  • Planning and/or leading events or activities.
  • Working with staff to evaluate the success of an event or activity.
  • Liaising with staff about any issues, problems or concerns relating to the activity.
  • Supporting other volunteers or staff to deliver activities for adults or children which could include:
    • Setting up/clearing up the designated room/space before and after an activity
    • Greeting people on arrival
    • Encouraging attendees to join/use the library
    • Reporting back to the local library team any interesting questions or comments
    • Collecting feedback from participants to help the library service to review the activity

To volunteer with us for this role you will need to be:

  • Willing to share skills and ideas.
  • Friendly, approachable and good at interacting with others.
  • Organised and reliable.
  • Enthusiastic about the library service.

We will give you training, and local staff will provide ongoing support.

Have a look at our Expression of Interest form to see if there are any vacancies for this role available near you.

Opportunities for young people

Are you looking for a placement for the Skills or Volunteering sections of your Duke of Edinburgh's Award? Are you keen to inspire younger children with a love of reading? Surrey Libraries can help – you can take on general tasks in the library or help out with our Digital groups or Children's Reading Groups.

Or are you looking for volunteering in the summer holidays? Help with our Summer Reading Challenge by talking to children about the books they have read and helping with events and activities.

Library tasks are many and varied. Some of the ways volunteers can help include:

  • Supporting library staff in keeping our libraries and library bookshops well stocked organised and neatly presented.
  • Organising book displays.
  • Assisting customers with technology.
  • Promoting libraries - talk to friends and use social media to promote library services.
  • Helping out with a reading group, Digital club or the Summer Reading Challenge.

Volunteering looks great on your CV and can be a lot of fun, give it a go!

Duke of Edinburgh's Award volunteer

We welcome applications for Duke of Edinburgh volunteering awards at all levels. Support Library staff with everyday tasks, events and activities and develop your skills with a challenging project.

Applications for Duke of Edinburgh volunteering will open in January 2022.

Summer Reading Challenge

The Summer Reading Challenge is a national scheme organised by The Reading Agency to encourage children to continue to read and visit libraries during the school holidays. You can help in many ways, including:

  • Promoting the challenge by talking to children, their parents and carers and explaining how it works.
  • Encouraging children to talk about the books they have read and helping them to choose more books.
  • Registering children, recording their progress and handing out rewards.
  • Helping with activities, promotional events and craft sessions.

Applications for the Summer Reading Challenge volunteers will open in June 2022.

To volunteer with us you will need to be:

  • enthusiastic
  • reliable
  • friendly
  • happy working with people

We will give you training, and local staff will provide ongoing support

Although Duke of Edinburgh and the Summer Reading Challenge volunteering opportunities are only available at certain times of the year, there may be other opportunities for you to volunteer with us throughout the year. Have a look at our Expression of Interest form to see if there are any roles available near you.

Stock support volunteer

Are you passionate about libraries, love books and enjoy meeting people? Surrey Libraries welcome enthusiastic, organised individuals interested in books and media.

In this role you would support library staff to present the library and its stock in a neat and attractive manner, to enhance the experience of library users. You might also be asked by members of the public to help them find items in the library, or to share your love of reading by recommending books they might enjoy reading.

You could help raise funds for Surrey Libraries by making sure the bookshop or book sales area in the library is well presented and stocked with suitable books. Or if your interests lie more in the digital world, you could help organise our online bookshop.

We might ask you to:

  • Gather, sort and shelve returned items correctly.
  • Tidy shelves, checking items on the shelves are in the correct sequence, are in good condition, and attractively displayed.
  • Look for requested books as directed by staff.
  • Use the online library catalogue to help customers find books.
  • Carry out minor repairs to items such as replacing labels.
  • Sort, prepare, price and display withdrawn items for sale for library or bookshop.
  • Help staff to process resources and circulate items to different libraries using our stock management systems.
  • Arrange attractive book displays to promote specific areas of stock.

To volunteer with us you will need to be:

  • Enthusiastic about the library service, with a passion for helping others.
  • Willing to share skills and ideas.
  • Friendly and approachable.
  • Able to follow procedures and have an eye for detail
  • Physically able to lift a few books at a time.
  • Able to use a computer to search the catalogue and carry out internet research for pricing book sale stock would be an advantage.
  • Flexible and reliable. Some aspects of this role might require a regular time commitment, others just occasional help.

We will give you training, and local staff will provide ongoing support.

Have a look at our Expression of Interest form to see if there are any vacancies available near you

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