In June of 2009, the Executive Director of the American Library Association (ALA) reached out to the library community asking them to get involved in a national volunteer initiative called the “Summer of Service” that would run from June 22 to September 11, 2009. ProQuest responded by initiating the Library Volunteer Program, which organized volunteer efforts to support Washtenaw County libraries and community groups. Thirty-six volunteers stepped up to help – logging more than 200 hours of service. ProQuest will celebrate the success of the program with a reception on October 8th.
“Helping to build stronger, healthier, and more compassionate communities is part of our business model and the culture of our company,” said Elliot Forsyth, senior vice president of human resources for ProQuest. “It has been amazing and gratifying to all of us to see how much ProQuest employees give back to our community, and see the significant positive impact they’re making right where we work and live.”
The ProQuest Library Volunteer Program included 5 projects, and an Educational Materials Drive benefiting the Ann Arbor District Library, Ypsilanti District Library, and the United Way’s Community Action Network. At Ann Arbor District Library, ProQuest staff added tags to the library’s catalog, tackling categories of award winning books on the library wish list and also adding tags for material of personal interest to the volunteers. These tags supplement traditional library cataloging, providing alternative, user-generated ways to find library material. In addition, volunteers edited digitized Meeting Minutes for use on the library’s website, which hosts Minutes from 1891 through 1930. Volunteers also spent a day at the downtown branch of the Ann Arbor District Library creating an inventory of duplicate titles in the Washtenaw Library for the Blind and Physically Disabled collection of audio books on cassette. The library plans to “weed” (discard) the duplicates. Once the inventory list was created, it was posted to a federal website, where other libraries could view it and request the items for their own collection before they are discarded.
Due to the large number of circulating items during the summer, the Ypsilanti District Library needed some help getting items back on the shelves. After a group training session, volunteers helped to shelve items organize the stacks. Volunteers also helped to dust bookshelves at the library.
In partnership with the United Way and the Ann Arbor Community Action Network (CAN), ProQuest hosted an educational materials donations drive. With ProQuest’s help, CAN was able to meet their goal of outfitting 80 low-income K-12 students with school supplies prior to the start of classes. The books collected will be given to children who visit one of the CAN centers to help them build a home library of reading materials and encourage reading as a fun activity. The children’s games, puzzles, and craft items went to the Perry Nursery School. The volunteers agreed that the program was as rewarding for them as it was for the recipients of the donated items. Karen Kaltz, ProQuest Editorial Operations Manager and coordinator of the educational materials donations drive, said, “The generosity of the ProQuest family was extremely gratifying and I was very proud to accept the thanks of these organizations for everyone who donated. Thank you very much to everyone who participated in this project. You made a real difference in our community.”
ProQuest will celebrate the program’s success with a reception on Thursday, October 8 at 3:15 at their Ann Arbor headquarters. Special guests include Ann Arbor District Library Associate Director for IT and Production, Eli Neiburger, and Ypsilanti District Library Community Relations Coordinator, Donna DeButts.
For More Information about the ALA initiative, please visit http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/advocacy/unitedweserve/index.cfm. To learn more about ProQuest’s advocacy efforts visit http://www.proquest.com/en-US/aboutus/advocacy.
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