By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN It’d be hard to imagine the Delano Public Library without its dedicated volunteers, who donated about 1,528 hours of their time in 2009.
Delano had the second highest volunteer hours in the Great River Regional Library system.
“It’s a variety of people and a variety of ages,” said Delano library assistant Karen Zeug.
Midge Amend, for example, is a retiree who spends four hours each Monday cleaning and mending books.
So far, she’s cleaned the covers of 2,000 picture books.
“My goal is to do all of the preschool books,” Amend said. There are a total of about 5,000 of them, which means she’s almost half done.
There is a certain way to clean and mend the books, Amend said.
“I was trained while living in Washington State in the late 1980s,” she said. Throughout the years, Amend and her late husband lived in various locations in the US. Each time, Amend found a local library to help.
“Living in the country, it was hard to get acquainted,” she said. Volunteering was a way to serve the community while meeting new friends. Also, Amend said she enjoys the atmosphere of libraries.
Joan Zimmerman provides a different type of service, with a children’s story time every Tuesday from 9:30 to 11 a.m.
“She provides three sessions, and does the prep work,” library manager Carol Plocher said.
In addition to individual volunteers, an organized volunteer group called the Friends of the Delano Library also provides much needed services. It was founded in 1984, and currently has 35 members.
Darcy Sjomeling, current president of Friends of the Delano Library, has been involved with the group for about four years.
“I like the library and saw a need there,” she said.
Sjomeling helps with a variety of activities, including shelving books and setting up events. Her favorite way to help is through the library’s children’s programs.
“You meet a variety of age groups and personalities,” she said. “It’s a really good opportunity for anyone who can give a little or a lot.”
The Friends of the Delano Library supports several events throughout the year, including the annual spring book sale in April, March photo exhibit, October art exhibit, and January adult winter reading program.
The children’s summer reading program creates a high volunteer need, according to Plocher.
“We have a lot more volunteers in the summers,” Plocher said.
The number of volunteers varies each month, but is typically between 10 and 14.
High school students involved in the National Honor Society often help throughout the year, Zeug said.
“We have all ranges of ages,” Plocher said.
Anyone age 12 or older can sign up to volunteer.
“We have an application they can come an fill out,” Zeug said.
Plocher said she is extremely appreciative of all the people who give their time to help the library.
“If we didn’t have volunteers, we’d just keep getting farther behind,” she said. “The volunteers allow us to offer better customer service.”
The Friends of the Delano Library meets monthly at the library. Call the library at (763) 972-3467 for meeting dates and times, or to learn more about volunteering on an individual basis.
The Delano Public Library is operated through the Great River Regional Library system.
Twenty-six of the region’s 32 public libraries reported volunteer use in 2009, providing a total of more than 15,000 hours of service. St. Cloud had the highest volunteer hours, totaling about 4983.
To learn more about the library system, go to www.griver.org.
A total of 578 volunteers provided 15,187 hours of volunteer service to the Great River Regional Library system in 2009. Delano had the second highest number of volunteer hours. Below is a list of the 26 libraries with the number of volunteer hours.
• St. Cloud 4982.75
• Delano 1,527.75
• Waite Park 1,492
• Albany 1063
• Elk River 760
• Annandale 714.75
• Clearwater 692
• Big Lake 674.5
• Buffalo 634
• Monticello 599
• Pierz 364.75
• St. Michael 293.5
• Staples 272
• Rockford 219.5
• Howard Lake 191
• Melrose 184
• Eagle Bend 97.75
• Cold Spring 93.5
• Royalton 72
• Cokato 57
• Swanville 54.75
• Little Falls 47.75
• Sauk Centre 43
• Upsala 32
• Kimball 20.5
• Richmond 4.5