May 10, 2009

California State Library Promotes Civic Engagement Through New Program

CALIFORNIA'S PUBLIC libraries are working to become a hub for civic engagement as they partner with the largest volunteer network to help people of all ages make a difference.

VolunteerMatch and the California State Library have announced a partnership to strengthen civic engagement at public libraries throughout California, and the launch of a new online resource, californialibraries.volunteermatch.org, that makes it easier for Californians to volunteer at local libraries and at nonprofits within the greater community.

Greg Baldwin, president of VolunteerMatch said, "Americans of all ages are more interested than ever in giving back, so the challenge is for institutions to create engaging and interesting ways to get involved," said Baldwin. "We're delighted that California's libraries share our commitment to unlocking the potential of new generations of citizens to serve their communities."

The Web site is the cornerstone of the broader California State Library initiative, Get Involved: Powered by Your Library, to encourage and tap into the skills and experiences of California volunteers. By positioning libraries as hubs for civic engagement, the program seeks to raise awareness about skilled volunteering in public libraries and strengthen the capacity of libraries to utilize skilled volunteers.

Through the partnership, the state's public library outlets can now advertise their volunteer openings to more than 10 million visitors in the VolunteerMatch network. Libraries can also now promote californialibraries.volunteermatch.org to library patrons as a resource for finding volunteer opportunities with 65,000 participating organizations.

The program also includes training to help libraries create diverse and meaningful volunteer positions to attract new audiences, especially the growing number of retiring Baby Boomers.

Key elements of the new program include:
  • The launch of californialibraries.volunteermatch.org as a hub for community involvement with a special focus on library volunteering, literacy projects and community volunteer activities.
  • An online toolset for libraries to post volunteer opportunities, screen prospects, coordinate group activities, and track volunteer hours.
  • A series of trainings including the Get Involved: Powered by Your Library Institute to help libraries create diverse and meaningful volunteer positions that will attract a broad range of community volunteers.
"Volunteer engagement benefits both the library and the community. In their role as information center and community living room, libraries are well positioned to serve as hubs for civic engagement," said Laura Parker, public information officer for the State Library. "We believe this is a program that other states will want to learn from and implement."

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