The 2006 report Long Overdue: A Fresh Look at Public Attitudes About Libraries in the 21st Century (pdf), noted that Americans who are active in their communities and vote regularly are also more likely to have a library card and favor taxes to support libraries.  Even though they love libraries, the study also found that these civically engaged citizens have not been “called to action” on behalf of libraries. 

At the same time, 78 million Baby Boomers (many who are already civically engaged) are moving toward retirement.  Research has shown that Boomers currently volunteer at a higher rate than any other age group and that they intend to continue volunteering as one of their retirement pursuits. And yet, multiple studies have shown that Boomers’ interests in volunteerism will be vastly different from those of current “senior volunteers,” and that organizations seeking to recruit them will need to adjust their volunteer engagement practices.

IMLS Fellowship Course

Volunteer Engagement

Instructor: Carla Lehn                                               clehn@library.ca.gov

I began my career as a VISTA volunteer and worked for the United Way for over a decade. Before joining the California State Library in 2001 to work on literacy, volunteerism, and community involvement projects state-wide, I was a private consultant in the areas of volunteer engagement, board development, program design, and community collaboration, based in Hawaii. I’ve authored several articles on volunteerism, as well as the book, Volunteer Involvement in California Libraries: Best Practices. I’ve always been an active volunteer. My longest volunteer commitment: Girl Scout leader for 20 years; favorite volunteer position – whale counter for the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.


Volunteer Position Description template (pdf) 

Targeted Recruitment Plan template (pdf)


Get Involved Website - Maintains sample documents including management tools, volunteer position descriptions, and training materials.

Get Involved Branded Hub- this site was created in partnership with VolunteerMatch to drive community volunteers to skilled opportunities at public libraries.