Volunteers@your library: benefits and pitfalls of volunteers in hospital libraries
AbstractThe purpose of this survey was to explore the attitudes of hospital library managers toward the use of library volunteers. During April 2003 a questionnaire was mailed to 89 Ontario hospital library managers. One of the methods used to assess attitudes toward volunteers was to ask respondents to list two main benefits and pitfalls of using volunteers. Benefits of volunteer use identified by respondents included assisting with routine clerical tasks, saving staff time, providing an added value or service, assisting with a heavy workload, contributing to a positive public perception and promoting library service, keeping costs down, optimizing staff time, and doing special projects. Some of the pitfalls of volunteer use identified by respondents included unreliable volunteer attendance and commitment, and excessive training and retraining. The identification of volunteer benefits and pitfalls will help hospital library managers optimize the use of volunteers and implement changes in the way they manage volunteers.
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