From Library Volunteer to Library Advocate

Tapping into the Power of Community Engagement

by Carla Campbell Lehn


Make the most of your volunteers so your community can make the most of the library.

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Cover image for From Library Volunteer to Library Advocate

May 2018

Libraries Unlimited

Pages 186
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Management and Administration/Human Resources and Communication
  Librarianship: Philosophy, Values, and Issues/Advocacy and Lobbying

This guide will show you how to reinvigorate your library's volunteer program using your community as a resource.

Volunteers are essential to a library's well-being, but running a volunteer program is a complicated task that could often be done so as to bring more benefit to your library. This book draws on the author's decades of experience in public libraries and the nonprofit arena, and on cutting-edge professional trends in volunteer management, to show you how to tap into each of your volunteer's talents and match them to your library's needs.

Providing multiple tactics for improving your library's volunteer program, the book covers redoubling your recruitment efforts to attract more volunteers, more logically assigning roles, and growing your relationships with volunteers. In addition, it addresses common problems with volunteers and potential barriers to success and explains how to overcome them. No matter what size your library, its volunteer staff, or its budget, this practical book will help you to streamline your volunteer program and more effectively engage the community to transform your library into a flourishing community center.


  • Helps readers to better understand the motivations of today's volunteers and design meaningful volunteer opportunities
  • Explains how to more successfully select potential volunteers and match them to your library's needs
  • Shows to deal with the two most common barriers to the success of a library volunteer program: union issues and staff resistance
  • Introduces exciting new trends in volunteer engagement
  • Provides lists of resources to draw upon in running your volunteer program
Author Info

Carla Campbell Lehn, principal consultant of the Lehn Group, is former Library Programs Consultant of California State Library, where she worked on statewide literacy, volunteerism, and community engagement initiatives, including a statewide library volunteerism initiative called Get Involved: Powered by Your Library. Her background includes volunteering with VISTA and working with various nonprofits at the Sacramento United Way. In her current position, she provides independent consultation and training services to a broad spectrum of predominantly not-for-profit and government clients in the areas of Volunteer Engagement, Board Development, and Strategic Planning.



"With its focus on recruiting skilled volunteers for work beyond the typical shelving and book repair duties, this basic guidebook gives library administration and staff a fresh perspective on volunteerism."Library Journal

"Although the intended audience is public librarians, personnel in other types of libraries will benefit from exploring the ideas so thoroughly and convincingly presented in this book."ARBA

"A very readable book about all things volunteers and libraries... Provides advice and recommendations based on the experiences of over a hundred public libraries. This book would be a welcome addition to the professional collection of any public library."Public Library Quarterly

"This is a well written resources that provides an excellent guide for enhancing volunteer servies and growing a library's base of advocates and supporters. Volunteer program coodinators at any experience level and in any size library can benefit by following its recommendations for taking action."Voice for America's Libraries


"The Get Involved Initiative has shown us how to harness the full potential of library volunteers for service development and community engagement. How exciting and fortunate to now have this practical and insightful guide to unleashing the power of volunteers in every library."—Mark Smith, Texas State Librarian, Texas State Library and Archives Commission

"In our rapidly changing society, the nature of volunteerism is evolving. Carla Lehn's practical guidebook provides valuable knowledge based on tested approaches to take your library volunteer programs to the next level. Take advantage of the guidance and real-world experiences in this book to ensure that your volunteers are making a difference in the library and becoming valuable community ambassadors."—Susan Hildreth, Professor of Practice, University of Washington Information School

"VolunteerMatch has been pleased to partner with the California State Library on its statewide volunteerism initiative 'Get Involved: Powered by Your Library,' since its inception in 2008. The project has been a huge success and has transformed how libraries across the state are successfully engaging a new generation of volunteers. In fact, it has been so successful we are already replicating the promising practices described in this book in 3 additional states–Arizona, Idaho and Texas."—Greg Baldwin, CEO,

In the News

VolunteerMatch, Success with Skills-Based Volunteers, 10/18/2018, How to Achieve Volunteer Engagement, 1/31/2019

Look Inside

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