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July 5, 2006 > Volunteers Are This Library’s “Main Ingredient”

Volunteers Are This Library’s “Main Ingredient”

Become a Library Volunteer Today

If you enjoy new experiences and like helping your fellow community members, the perfect opportunity is waiting for you. Washington Hospital’s Community Health Resource Library is currently seeking additional volunteers to join its team!

Become a library volunteer and help people navigate a wide variety of health resources at the library.

Calling all volunteers

“Volunteers play a major role in the Community Health Resource Library,” according to Operations Coordinator Sumedha Shende. “From technical assistance in the preparation of library materials to working with patrons as they search for answers, the volunteers at the Community Health Resource Library make it possible for us to provide each patron with the help they desire.”

Shende manages between 30 and 40 volunteers that help the library run smoothly and aid around 1,000 visitors a month. Volunteers help patrons find books, periodicals and other library materials; catalog books and other audio visual materials in the library; perform osteoporosis screenings at health fairs and in the library; assist visitors with computer databases, and find health information for walk-in patrons and patrons who call the library.

“We receive visitors from various walks of life, such as seniors with nutritional questions and those who want to learn more about topics such as diabetes or knee problems,” Shende says, adding that many patients from Washington Hospital’s Center for Joint Replacement visit the library to learn more about the surgery and even doctors, nurses and visitors from outside the Tri-City area visit the library.

A special kind of library

Washington’s Community Health Resource Library differs from other regular community libraries, according to Shende, in part because of the extra attention she and the volunteers can offer patrons to ensure that they receive the best information possible.

“In our library, health care is the focus,” Shende says. “When a patient goes to a doctor, the doctor may not have enough time to discuss their medical condition in detail, and the patrons come to the library to find out more so they are better aware of their disease or condition.”

Shende adds that the library staff is not equipped to diagnose medical conditions, but volunteers can help visitors acquire more knowledge about their medical condition so that they can make more informed decisions about their health care.

Help others and learn something new yourself

In addition to helping others, volunteers at the library also benefit from their experiences, according to Shende.

“You meet new friends,” Shende says. “You serve your community. You learn about new databases in the health care field. Most of our volunteers feel that they have done something for other people rather than just for themselves. By helping others they feel good inside.”

Volunteers who work in the Community Health Resource Library also receive training from Shende and may be given special instruction, including Internet researching and computer skills.

The requirements for a Community Health Resource Library volunteer are:

· Computer literacy (optional) and experience with search tools
· Willingness to attend ongoing training sessions
· Ability to communicate clearly in writing and on the telephone
· Detail oriented and good organization skills
· Professional appearance and strong commitment to community service
· Willingness to learn how to perform osteoporosis screenings and answer patrons’ questions

For high school students interested in volunteering – volunteers must be at least 15 1/2 years of age – the requirements are:

· A friendly and helpful attitude
· Willingness to learn new techniques

For the community

Have you ever wanted to learn more about a particular health topic but didn’t know where to find reliable information? Perhaps you have a family member who is ill or you have been recently diagnosed with a health condition and would like to learn more about it.
The Community Health Resource Library is a great resource for finding all kinds of health-related information.

“The library is constantly acquiring new materials,” according to Shende. “Currently, the library is equipped with various disease-related videos and audiovisual materials. I find patrons are mostly interested in diabetes diet and hypertension diet. Also, breast cancer information is high in demand by women over 40. And many men and women are looking for information about knee replacement surgery, including how the procedure is done and what precautions they should take after the knee surgery.”
The library is located on the first floor of Washington West, across the street from the main hospital at 2500 Mowry Ave., Fremont. It’s easy to sign up for your free library card, which allows you to check out materials and take advantage of the library’s wide variety of resources. To learn more about becoming a Community Health Resource Library volunteer, call Operations Coordinator Sumedha Shende at (510) 494-7009.


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