Thursday, November 6, 2014

My Time as a Tech Tutor at KCLS

Today's post is about my time as a volunteer at the King County Library System as a Tech Tutor. Before I get into what exactly that is, I would just like to say that KCLS has excellent volunteer management. They use volunteer2, which is an online volunteer management software used to track and schedule volunteers. We used this at the Frisco Public Library in Frisco, Texas so I am very familiar with how it works from the staff side (and it works really well). It's just as awesome on the volunteer side. It's really easy to log hours and view upcoming sessions.

Even with a nice tool like volunteer2, libraries can really drop the ball on volunteers. It's easy to do if there is not a staff member only devoted to volunteers and you are so busy doing a million other things. The worst thing you can do is not respond to a volunteer. Well, okay, you can do worse things if you tried, but then you would most likely be fired. When I was managing volunteers, I never turned anyone away and I always tried to maintain good communication. This is because 1. If you can't think of anything someone could do for you for free, then you are wasting a valuable resource. 2. If you don't respect your volunteers enough to give them the time of day, they will not be back. I've found the KCLS staff friendly and responsive, which is what you need to create volunteer loyalty.

Tech Tutor, the program I volunteer for, is exactly what it sounds like: tutoring people in use of technology. I've been manning the One-on-One table for a particular library branch. People come in with their own devices and ask the Tech Tutor for guidance. This is kind of brilliant in that it addresses the need for a free agent to handle complicated technology questions that would otherwise be handled at the reference desk. I've been in that position as a librarian at the desk. A lines starts to form and people get impatient when you spend 10-20 minutes helping someone configure their Kindle Fire.

My first and most successful One-on-One session had about four people in the span of two hours asking how to do various things on their laptops and phones. While the program attendance seems to be starting out slowly, I think the concept is really great. I'm not sure how the program is fairing system-wide, but I think once people find out about this service, more will come.

What is your library doing to create volunteer loyalty? To meet the needs of digital literacy education in your community? Hopefully the KCLS program gives you some ideas!


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