Why I Volunteer at the Denver Public Library
It was important to me that I pursued my interests: tutoring, working with kids, and continuing to learn. The library seemed like a good first stop. Ultimately, I accomplished my goal of tutoring and working with kids instead by volunteering with Denver Public Schools, but I also volunteered at the two nearest library branches to me at the time: Ross-University Hills and Eugene Field. There, I was sorting movies and shelving books, DVDs, CDs, graphic novels, etc; just helping to do whatever needed to be done, but I did a whole lot of learning in the process due in part to some different factors.
Firstly, and, perhaps, most importantly, the people. The people who worked at the library were friendly, engaging, and interesting. I interacted with a variety of characters, and each had a rather interesting background. So, not only was each person quite different from the next, but they also had special perspective to provide in our conversations.
Each day that I went into the library, I discovered some knew field of knowledge from the materials I shelved, or I learned about a different perspective on things from the people I worked with. Education, food, health, movies, life! Nearly everyone had some say on a different subject based on their experiences. And, of course, I learned about the library system here in Denver, as well as a little bit about the neighboring library systems. What I learned surprised me and gave me a new appreciation for the library and the people who made it work.
Because, amongst other things, what the library stands for drew me to be a volunteer: sharing, community, culture, freedom of thought, and equal access to information. The public library is free and makes available so many different types of information (as well as accompanying perspectives on that information). To me, a library branch is a sort of hub for the community where people can begin to make connections: with other people, between ideas and the practice of those ideas, and even between communities. Oh, and there’s internet access, too.
So, volunteering at the library allowed me to explore different avenues of information and thought. If I wasn’t having an interesting conversation with one of my library friends, then I was finding interesting titles of films and books. Often times, one led to the other. I studied qi gong, quantum mechanics, psychology of emotions, philosophy (I’m a philosophy major), and watched all kinds of films thanks to the recommendation of people I worked with.
So much is circulated through the DPL and resources are steadily being taken away from it. The public library stands for so much and so many people benefit from it. Sometimes the work was tedious, but it’s a process. As long as people want to read or learn, they will need the assistance and resources of the public library. But the library will always need the help of its patrons, also. It’s a process of reciprocity, symbiosis, yin and yang, of give and take quite literally. I gave some of my time to the library, and the library gave me a lot in return. Volunteer and ye shall receive!
Submitted by Asa Erlendson - DPL Volunteer