Volunteering at the American Library in Paris
Volunteers are the heart of the American Library in Paris. More than fifty volunteers donate their time and talents at any given time to provide valuable assistance to staff and members of the Library throughout the year. Our volunteers range in age from teens to seniors. Some assist with short-term projects, and others stay for decades.
Volunteer assignments are available during most operational hours, including weekdays, evenings, and weekends. Please see below for examples of the kind of volunteer opportunities generally available. We ask for a commitment of at least 4 months. Volunteers are asked to join the Library as members. If you are interested in volunteering, please fill out one of the forms below (for adults or for teens).
The Volunteer Coordinator, Breanna Melville, started out as a Welcome Desk volunteer at the American Library in Paris in February 2020. She took on the role of Volunteer Coordinator in November of this year. Breanna, or Bre, loves reading and still remembers the thrill of obtaining her first local library card at the age of 5. In addition to books, she has a passion for volunteering. She has previously volunteered for Oxfam, UNICEF, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Ronald McDonald House, and the Animal Rescue League. She enjoys giving back to the community and meeting new people from diverse backgrounds. She has lived in the Paris area since 2014 and obtained a Master’s Degree in French from l’Université Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV) in 2017. She currently works as an English Professor in Ile-de-France.
How to volunteer
Teens (ages 16-18 with consent of a parent or guardian) :
Adults (ages 18+):
Upon receipt of your completed application, our Volunteer Coordinator will contact you to schedule a training. At that point we will discuss how your interests, talents, and availability might match the opportunities that are currently available at the Library.
- All volunteers go through the two-step selection process: written application followed by volunteer training.
- The selection process is an assessment of the interests, experience, skills, and availability of each volunteer. We strive to match these as closely as possible with the opportunities currently available at the Library.
- A commitment of 4 hours per week for a minimum of 6 months is expected.
- Job-specific training will be provided on-site.
- In some cases a trial period may be required to assess language proficiency or aptitude for a specific project.
The following list provides examples of the kind of volunteer opportunities generally available at The American Libary in Paris:
All Children’s and Teens’ services volunteers will assist with: reshelving books, conducting inventory, maintaining displays, and assisting in preparation for children’s programs. In addition, there are other volunteer positions in the Children’s and Teens’ Services department that may appeal to you.
Story Hour and Saturday Series programs: Volunteers assist in readings and other programs alongside the youth librarians on Wednesdays and Saturdays, as well as with preparation and clean-up.
Young Adult Services: Volunteers help during teen events after-hours. Some lifting and moving may be required, as well as lots of energy!
Craft assistants: Help to plan and prepare the craft projects for our weekly Wednesday Story Hour for ages 3-5 and/or Saturday programs for ages 6+. Artistic ability is appreciated, but not required! Lots of cutting, coloring, and detail work will be involved. A minimum of two 4-hour shifts per week is ideal for this position.
Graphic design and social media: Volunteers create content for social media or flyers to promote the children’s and teens’ collections and programs.
Schedules vary and training is provided. A minimum commitment of 6 months is requested.
We need volunteers to help welcome members and guests at the Welcome Desk at the entrance of the Library. Duties include checking membership cards, taking phone calls, and answering general questions about the Library.
Desired qualifications include customer service experience, active listening skills, and the ability to interact with people from all walks of life. You must be at least 18 years old to perform this volunteer role. Training will be provided.
If you’ve ever searched for a book that the Library’s catalog says is available, but that you can’t find, then you know how important correctly shelved materials are to a user-friendly library. Qualities needed for this position include good eyesight, the ability to stand for long periods and to follow directions, to use alphabetical and numerical filing systems, to reach above your head, climb on and off a step stool, and maneuver a cart full of books. This is a great opportunity for someone who enjoys organizing and sorting.
We need volunteers to help with our evening programs at the Library, typically held on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings from 19h30 to 20h30. Volunteers are asked to arrive at 18h45 and stay until 20h45. Tasks include: setting up and managing the registration and refreshments table, assisting with room set-up and break-down, and welcoming guests. Excellent hospitality skills a plus!
Special book searches, category verification, and cataloging are just a few of the tasks that collection support volunteers may be called on to perform. Volunteers must have an eye for detail, must be able to work without close supervision and must be available to volunteer during regular business hours. Interns from Library schools are encouraged to apply for this volunteering position, or for a full-time internship.
We are looking for volunteers who have an interest and expertise in social media. Under the guidance of Library staff, volunteers will create posts on all of our social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Those with photography skills are also welcome to take photos for our social media.
Volunteer with graphic design experience – or students studying graphic design – can help with creating flyers, brochures, and other printed and web materials as needed for the Library’s program and marketing purposes. Hours are flexible.
Volunteers with expertise in film editing can help Library staff with creating videos for our YouTube channel. Tasks can include helping to film Library events and editing the footage for consistency. Hours are flexible and can be done from home. Similar opportunities exist for volunteers interested in editing audio recordings for our podcast.
Generous donations from members and friends are essential to the health and vitality of the Library. Volunteers in the Fundraising department will help with major events, such as the Gala and Book Award, and will assist with the Library’s annual fundraising drives.