Don’t Panic Yet! When Volunteers Bail on Your Summer Reading Program

Don't Panic

In my previous post about creating a teen summer reading program, I never mentioned that there could be crises that pop up. It’s something that’s unexpected. Suddenly, you get a phone call from a volunteer that you had contacted a couple of months prior to the program. The news is bleak, but you really don’t have to panic. You can simply plan.

My first bailout happened about a week ago. My library supervisor and I had talked to a woman about doing a cooking demonstration for the teen summer reading program; our conversation was in April or May, and the date was set for a Friday in June. The phone call came in roughly last week and went something like this:

I just saw _____ (the library board president) in Walmart, and he said he is excited for a cooking demonstration that I’m supposed to do in June. I had never heard of this until now. I’m busy for June, but I can do something in July. So what is this about an event in June?

Your first reaction might be to scream, panic, cry, and have a meltdown. But don’t. Obviously the volunteer can’t help, and by throwing a fit, you might end up turning the forgetful person off of wanting to volunteer for you ever again. So here’s what you CAN do…

  • Breathe. Count to 10. Relax. You’ve got this; you’re not just a good librarian but a GREAT one. So you can figure out how to do this on your own, or you can find an alternative program that won’t disappoint the teens.
  • Apologize for the mix up. Sure, they forgot, but things mess up sometimes. By apologizing, it can help the other person feel better.
  • Think, plan, and cover that spot! What can you do? Can you come up with a cooking demonstration idea and implement it on your own? Do you already have a back-up plan for an event that you could use for that date? Do you have any other volunteers that can cook or fill the role that you need? Make sure the volunteer spot for the event gets covered, whether by yourself or someone else.
  • Send out paper reminders to volunteers next year. Everyone needs a reminder now and again, and it might be a good idea to implement a paper reminder system for next year’s summer reading program.

See?! You CAN work out the problems without panicking. And on another note, here’s what I’m doing for the Cooking Demo for the Teen Summer Reading Program…

Cooking Demo Graphic - Strawberry Lemonade - Pretzel Sparklers - 7-layer Nacho Dip

Cooking Demo Graphic
- Strawberry Lemonade
- Pretzel Sparklers
- 7-layer Nacho Dip

It may end up being even more fun doing it by myself than having a volunteer anyway! You can see more ideas for Teen Cooking Demos on my Pinterest.


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