HANFORD — There are never enough employees to go around at Kings County’s busy public libraries.

But books still must be sorted. Fundraising book sales and other event still must be put on without fail. Children still want to see puppets and engage in fun activities during story time.

In Kings County, volunteers play a huge role in getting these things done and ensuring everything is in place.

That’s not about not change any time soon, as dozens of fresh faces showed up to Saturday’s new volunteer orientation in Hanford to seek the opportunity to volunteer for the library.

Officials were pleasantly surprised when they saw nearly 50 people show up to the orientation, which was held for the first time as part of their effort to create a more coordinated volunteer program.

“Since it was the first time we did something formal on this level, we were a little concerned,” said Natalie Rencher, library director. “It’s wonderful that we have almost 50 people, not including the staff. We’re very happy.”

Officials said the library received at least 33 applications from new volunteers by the end of the orientation.

In times of limited resources, the library is increasingly dependent on volunteers in many aspects of operations, Rencher said. Having a formal volunteer program will not only help the library tap into the expertise volunteers have to offer, but also provide the unemployed the opportunity to gain valuable work experience, she said.

“If you’re unemployed for a year, it’s something that they could still put on their resume that actively show they have the skill set and they give back to the community with that expertise,” Rencher said.

On Saturday, the library staff was recruiting volunteers for a wide variety of tasks that paid employees rarely have the time to do, ranging from landscaping to online tutoring. Volunteers are needed at the main Hanford branch as well as branches in Lemoore, Corcoran, Avenal, Kettleman City, Armona and Stratford.

The county library needs more volunteers for a weekly story time as well as children’s summer reading program. Volunteers are also needed in following areas:

Shelving of books

Sorting books donated throughout the year

Helping students with online homework assignments through the “Brainfuse” online tutoring program

Archiving of artifacts and literature regarding local history

Listing high-value books through Amazon and eBay as part of an effort to collect more revenues for the library

Upkeep of bulletin boards and display cases

Planning of landscape projects.

Ida Burke of Hanford is one of many volunteers who take care of the little things without fanfare and make sure the library runs smoothly. Burke, who has volunteered for three years, said she has no plan of quitting any time soon.

“I just like to volunteer at a place that’s quiet, so I thought I would check this place out,” Burke said. “I really enjoy it. It’s something I look forward to. I’ve made new friends. ... It’s great getting to know people and dealing with the public and learning different skills. It’s just been enjoyable.”

The reporter can be reached at 583-2429 or eyamashita@HanfordSentinel.com.

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