Barbara Christian

Excellence in Volunteerism Award Winner

OC Community Resources
OC Public Libraries
La Habra Branch Library

ACTION: What does the volunteer do?

When Barbara Christian retired from the OC Public Libraries (OCPL) in 2007, she immediately began volunteering—literally within three days of retirement. During her first week, she scheduled a volunteer shift every day and worked more than 25 hours to assist with the La Habra Branch Library’s inventory project. As part of this assignment, she helped resolve the “problem” books that other volunteers were not trained to handle. “Problem” books include items no longer listed in the library’s database—in most cases, because they are missing. Barbara’s library background enabled her to determine whether the books should be returned to or removed from the library’s collection. 

Pictured from left to right, La Habra Branch Manager
Jill Patterson & library volunteer Barbara Christian.

For the past four years, Barbara has given generously of her time, talents and energy to improving services and resources at the La Habra Branch Library. She dedicates countless hours to “weeding” assignments, which involve examining books slated for removal from the library’s collection because they are outdated, haven't been checked out in a number of years or are worn out. For each book sorted out, a decision must be made to replace the book (e.g. it's a popular title but is worn
out) or to purchase books with updated information on a certain topic (e.g. replace some of the collection’s astronomy books listing Pluto as one of the planets with newer titles relegating Pluto as a planetoid).

In addition to her other contributions, Barbara creates labels for new and reprocessed items, handles special assignments related to collection development and assists the Friends of the Library by coordinating the organization’s eBay sales and silent auction.

NEED: What community or agency need does the volunteer address?

Barbara’s extensive library experience and significant knowledge of library theory and literature enhance her efforts as a library volunteer. She has successfully transitioned the skills acquired during her career with OCPL to her volunteer endeavors. Her involvement supports library staff members in focusing their time on direct interaction with the public by remaining on duty at service desks and during library programs. This interaction increases staffs’ ability to more effectively meet community needs.

In addition, Barbara’s knowledge of literature is essential in determining what items to place in the silent auction and put up for sale on eBay. She is a vital component of the Friends’ fundraising activities.

IMPACT: What is different as a result of the volunteer's service?

Barbara’s reliability and expertise help library staff keep current with “behind the scenes” projects while maintaining a high level of direct public service. Her efforts assist in creating a more accessible and up-to-date library for the community with relevant materials and services that capture the interests of a diverse population. Her hard work and dedication support staff in providing new books to library patrons in a timely manner.

Barbara’s involvement with the Friends of the Library directly impacts the financial support that the organization provides to the library. Her efforts have increased the revenue stream to the Friends through funds received from the silent auction and eBay sales. The funds help procure materials for the library’s collection and are critical in reducing the negative impact of recent budget cuts.

INSPIRATION: What makes the volunteer unique/special?

The La Habra Branch Library is fortunate to have the support of an exceptional group of teen and adult volunteers. However, Barbara is unique in her volunteer role for several reasons, including the expertise acquired through her work as a librarian that she now applies to her volunteer endeavors, the number of years she has consistently volunteered, the weekly commitment that library staff members can always count on, and the more than 300 service hours she’s completed since 2007.

Other volunteers can perform rote tasks that require a minimum of training, but Barbara can take on professional-level activities that require years of experience to properly execute. She understands the important role that OCPL plays within the community, especially in providing library patrons with current information, an array of resources, noteworthy programs and a variety of recreational opportunities.

Thank you and congratulations to Barbara Christian, recipient of the 2011 Excellence in Volunteerism Award!

Click here to find out how you can volunteer with the OC Public Libraries.