Library Aims to Meet the Varied Interests – and Needs – of the Community

The Appleton Public Library will be adding a new volunteer role this year – job search assistant. The library is looking for volunteers who would like to work one-on-one with people, helping them with online job searches, resume creation and online job applications.

Colleen Holz, Appleton Public Library’s volunteer coordinator and community partnership specialist, said the library would not be able to host all the programs and events it does without the help of volunteers.

Colleen Holz, the library’s volunteer coordinator and community partnership specialist, said she has been hearing from local nonprofit agencies that it would be helpful to their clients if employment search assistance was offered during the evening and weekends.

“Representatives from some nonprofit agencies in the area have indicated that some of their clients would really benefit from having a job search assistant who could provide extra time for one-on-one guidance,” she said. “The Job Center in Menasha is not typically open evenings or on weekends. Employment and training specialists at the center have indicated an interest in helping us train our volunteers.

The assistance will be helpful for patrons who are just learning how to use the computer, or perhaps have had some employment setbacks. It’s generally difficult for reference librarians to work with patrons for an hour at a time because of needing to help many patrons during a given shift on the desk. The volunteers will be able to offer extra time to patrons who need the guidance.”

Ideal volunteers would be patient, compassionate and know how to navigate the Internet and have basic knowledge of Microsoft Word. Holz anticipates volunteers would serve a 2-hour shift in the evening, weekend or during the day by appointment if case managers would like to join their clients in their job search.

The library also is looking for program contributors or facilitators. Last year, more than 35,000 people attended children’s, young adult and adult programs. Holz said they could not offer the number of programs and events the library hosts without volunteers who are available to help during weekdays, evenings or weekends.

“For a given children’s program, we tend to have at least two or three volunteers to help out. For some of our events, we might need 10 or more volunteers. The Walking Books program, which provides delivery of materials to homebound patrons, wouldn’t be offered without our volunteers.”

Holz encourages folks to let her know if they have a craft, interest or skill that they would like to share with others.

For instance, one volunteer who enjoys writing mentioned to Holz that writing groups in the community were not fitting her needs.

“She wanted to create a program that would offer writing prompts or exercises to participants, give them time to write for a while, and time to, if they chose to, share their work with the group,” Holz said. “But she said she couldn’t find any group like that in the community, so she approached us and asked, ‘Could I create a program doing that?’ and we said, ‘Absolutely!’”

Creative Writing @ the Library currently meets on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month, from 10 a.m. to noon.

Volunteers help facilitate a variety of programs at the library, including Knit2Together, a knitting club and Cocoa and Coloring Night.

The library always is looking for volunteers who would like to choose their favorite section of the library and straighten the materials. This is a flexible role that can be done any time during library hours.

“People who are attracted to this are people who like to see things neat and in correct order,” Holz said. “If they have a favorite section, they love working there because they get ideas about what they’d like to check out.”

Volunteer greeters welcome patrons at the library. They also answer questions and provide directions. Holz explained that many patrons expressed interest in being able to purchase withdrawn and donated books throughout the year, not just during Friends of Appleton Public Library’s April and November book sales. Therefore, the greeter role will now include selling books from a book cart positioned near the entrance.

“Friends of APL generously bought a book cart. Greeters will collect money from patrons who’d like to purchase books off the cart. They will also get feedback from patrons if they would like particular genres or types of books to be added to the cart,” she said.
“Proceeds go toward Friends, which in turn supports all the wonderful programs at the library.”

 To volunteer at the Appleton Public Library, contact Colleen Holz at 920-832-6346 or