The San Bernardino County Library is the community's resource for access to information to promote knowledge, education, lifelong learning, leisure and cultural enrichment for the people of the County of San Bernardino.
San Bernardino County Library Administration
104 W. 4th Street
San Bernardino, CA 92415-0035
As a young girl, Robin Hoklotubbe looked forward to the days when she could make the journey to her local library. On her bike, the two miles there were always the easiest, filled with excitement and anticipation for the wonders that awaited her on the library shelves. The ride home was at times comical, the weight of the books she carried often enough to topple her over.
Robin recalls those days fondly. Today, as the friends and volunteer services coordinator for the San Bernardino County Library in San Bernardino, Calif., she knows the important role that public libraries can continue to play in the community.
For years, the 30 branch library system has been providing not only books and materials to a population of 1.2 million, but also cultural and educational programs. And more recently, it added volunteer opportunities to the list of free services for the public.
Earlier this year, the California State Library took a step into the future by launching the first ever initiative to promote community involvement to a new generation of engaged citizens. Joining forces with VolunteerMatch, the program Get Involved: Powered by Your Library positions libraries as hubs for civic engagement and seeks to raise awareness about skilled volunteering in public libraries and to strengthen the capacity of all California libraries to utilize skilled volunteers.
By creating skilled volunteer opportunities, libraries are able to tap into the deep pool of expertise community members can provide, and also help individuals strengthen current skills or gain new skills they can take to market.
"Traditional library volunteer tasks have been to sort, shelve and clean books," says Robin. "Although these are vital to the libraries, they're not that much fun. We've been developing and expanding our opportunities to allow for more skilled volunteer engagement."
Robin has known about VolunteerMatch even before her time with the library. An active volunteer herself, she was thrilled to learn that the library would be adopting the service. Through VolunteerMatch, San Bernardino County libraries have welcomed hundreds of volunteers. "We've even hired a few of our volunteers!" says Robin.
The cornerstone of the project is a Web site, californialibraries.volunteermatch.org, which connects Californians to volunteer opportunities in their local library, and also with nonprofits in their communities.
"The library is often the nucleus in a community," says Robin, "offering a staging area for people of all ages and interests to meet and receive information. In the past, many libraries have hosted volunteer fairs, so we are in great a position to continue to be a storehouse for volunteer opportunities."
But while the new partnership and focus on skilled volunteering will maintain the library's value and function in an increasingly tech-centric world, it's the core idea behind a library's role that keeps Robin smiling at her job.
"Ever since Benjamin Franklin founded the Library of Philadelphia in 1731 with donor support, libraries are free to all and serve all," Robin beams. "That's what I like about them the best!"