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Monroe County Public Library volunteer coordinator's personal meaning of library


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By Jenna Fagan




Susan Sater expects the unexpected as the volunteer coordinator for the Monroe County Public Library. To her, MCPL defies the dull, stuffy reputation many libraries have in today’s society.

Instead, she said the library is a place alive with possibilities.

“At any time, the unexpected can happen,” Sater said.

She credits the library’s vibrant atmosphere to the wide variety of people who visit MCPL each day.

“In the city of Bloomington, you have your local community, you have people on the outskirts of the community that come here, you have college students,” Sater said.
“Because we have so many different types of service, you get everybody in here under the sun.”

She began her position about eight years ago when Cynthia Gray, former director of MCPL, organized the library’s various community service programs into one volunteer department.

The new department, known as the MCPL volunteer program, offers volunteering opportunities through the Circulation, Children’s Services and Adult/Teen Services Departments.

There are other volunteer opportunities including the “Friends of the Library Bookstore” and the Volunteers in Tutoring Adult Learners program.

Sater said she currently oversees about 160-180 volunteers a month, a diverse group
that includes both IU students and native Bloomington residents. Volunteers have a variety of reasons for working at MCPL. Some seek job experience while others are working for community service or to pay off library fines.

A majority of the IU students volunteering are part of the School of Library and Information Science, she said.

Volunteer Mary Anne Ward is one of these SLIS students. She said she works at MCPL because it was ranked by the Library Journal Index of Public Library Service as one of the best libraries in the entire country.

“This library ranks at top,” Ward said. “If I am going to be getting experience, this is a great place because it’s such a great library.”

Volunteering at MCPLis also a good way to give back to the Bloomington community in general, Sater said. This is her favorite part of her position at the library. She said she loves how much her job allows her to give back to the place where she grew up.

“This is my hometown, so not only do I love this library and all its services, but I love it because it’s my hometown public library,” Sater said. “So anything we can do to promote good service to the community, I am all for, and the volunteer programs help us to do that.”

IU junior Allie Quintano, who has primarily worked with the VITAL program, echoed Sater’s passion for giving back through MCPL.

“I wanted to get involved,” Quintano said.

Quintano said she urges others to start volunteering at MCPL, not just to give back to Bloomington, but because her experiences at the library have given her so much, as well.

“You can just learn so much, and you just experience other peoples lives. It improves the values of your own life,” Quintano said.  

With many different volunteer positions still available at MCPL, some volunteers said they hoped to see more people come work at the library.

“The library is just an interesting place,” Quintano said. “It’s so much more than just volunteering. It’s such a personal experience, and you can really connect with people in the community.”

Current open positions at MCPL include spots in VITAL, “Friends of the Library Bookstore” and the Circulation Department. For more information about open positions or the library volunteer programs, contact Sater at 812-349-3050 or ssater@monroe.lib.in.info.

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Monroe County Public Library administrative manager and volunteer coordinator Susan Sater stands in front of shelves of books on Jan. 15 at the Monroe County Public Library. Haley Ward Buy Photos
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Tyler Meese straightens books on a shelf on Jan. 15 at the Monroe County Public Library. Meese, a former volunteer, is now employed by the library. Haley Ward Buy Photos
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Volunteer David Szony leads a VITAL English as a Second Language tutor training session on Jan. 15 at the Monroe County Public Library. Szony is in his first week teaching ESL at the library. Haley Ward Buy Photos

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