Volunteering Creates Opportunities

Kansas native Erin Duerr moved from Lincoln to Omaha in 2011. Now her photography can be seen in The Daily Nonpareil, the Council Bluffs newspaper.

Like so many individuals who are new to a community, Erin wanted to meet people and get involved. Enter Omaha Public Library. Erin contacted Jody duRand, volunteer and partnership services manager, regarding opportunities. Soon threafter, Erin found herself meeting new people and keeping busy. For instance, she helped prepare for a branch reopening last December and assisted children with an art project while representing OPL at KidzExplore in February. “The Library provided exactly what I was looking for, and in an environment that I’ve always loved,” Erin said.

Earlier this year Erin returned to school for her master’s in library science with a concentration in archival studies. She again turned to the Library, but for a different reason this time. ”I contacted Jody with hopes of being able to gain some basic library experience, [like] sorting, shelving, cleaning, etc.” Last summer Erin began volunteering on a regular basis at W. Clarke Swanson Branch, 9101 W. Dodge Rd., where her current assignment not only includes the basics of librarianship, but exceeds her expectations. “The project that I am working on is well beyond anything I could have hoped for.”

“Ms. Duerr is [an] exceptional volunteer,” raved library specialist Mark Sorensen. “She’s almost singlehandedly conducted a review and inventory of our children’s rare book collections. Her attention to detail, intelligence, and capacity for independent work have vastly improved the condition and organization of a historic book collection at Swanson.” He continued, “she’s done in four months what I’d have struggled to complete in a year with a significant investment of staff time.”

Besides experience, nostalgia is a welcome side effect of the project. “During my time working with the historic picture and rare book collections, I’m reminded about how reading as a kid was always such a transportive experience – and how it still can be. Working on the rare book project is not only something I enjoy doing, but is something I believe has incredible value and I’m sincerely happy to be a part of it,” she said.

OPL is proud of volunteers like Erin, and as a volunteer what you gain may be priceless. If you or someone you know is interested in making a difference, contact Jody duRand at 402.444.4807 or jdurand@omahalibrary.org.

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