Everyone Can Volunteer Here: Collaboration with a Public Library to Provide a Safe Volunteering Program for Survivors of Neurological Trauma

Document Type

Conference Presentation

Conference Title/Conference Publication

Medical Library Association Annual Meeting


Seattle, WA

Conference Dates

May 26-31, 2017

Date of Presentation



Objectives: Collaboration between the public library, a hospital librarian, and a licensed physical therapist resulted in a volunteer program for survivors of neurological trauma. All participants were assessed for fall risk to ensure safety while volunteering, and staff were advised on appropriate tasks and given basic information about the special needs of survivors of neurological trauma.

Methods: Participants were recruited from stroke support groups, Easter Seals, and a community college’s neurological trauma support group. Three cohorts of no more than 6 participants attended an orientation where they were assessed for fall risk, completed a series of tests, and given a basic overview of the public library and examples of tasks they would be doing as volunteers. Volunteers for this program were integrated into the general volunteer population and encouraged to volunteer for as many hours as they felt they could do. Every other month data was collected about the physical and neurological standing of the participants. At the end of the pilot project, data was collected regarding staff perceptions of the program and participant perceptions of the program.

Results: There were no injuries reported by participants during volunteer times at the public library. Participants reported increased capabilities, such as concentration, due to their volunteer work at the public library. Staff reported that the volunteers from this special program did not create more work than other volunteers and that they were willing to continue with the project beyond the pilot.

Conclusion: This program indicates that there is a benefit to collaboration between public libraries and hospital libraries to create programs for community members who have survived neurological trauma. Hospital libraries often lack the space and man power for this kind of volunteer program, and public libraries often lack the knowledge to find participants and clinical partners. Through collaboration, it is possible to create a volunteer program for members of the community who otherwise don’t have an opportunity to volunteer. It is also possible to create a safe and effective program that doesn’t result in more work for the public library staff.

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