by Rebecca Vogler, Head Editor, INALJ Nevada
Volunteering in Local Government
In the summer of 2010, as I was getting close to finishing my undergraduate program and begin my exciting journey into the world of library science that following January, I was given a bit of advice that I believe has helped me tremendously ever since
“Get involved in local politics.”
Now, I’m not saying everyone should drop what they’re doing and run for mayor! Who wants to run for public office? However, there’s a lot more to serving your local community than being elected as a councilman, alderman, or mayor.
Most towns, cities, and counties (or parishes if you are in Louisiana) have appointed boards and commissions that help the local elected council make decisions in a wide variety of areas. Police boards, school boards, library boards, planning and zoning commissions, parks and recreation commissions, housing authority boards, public transit advisory boards, and visitors’ bureaus are some examples. As a lover of the arts, I found my niche in the local Commission on Cultural Affairs. Their once-a-month meetings on Monday evenings worked perfectly with my schedule, and they needed a non-artistic lay-person in my ward to fill an empty slot. After I applied, the commission selected my application and sent it to the City Council to be approved.
My time on the commission taught me all about parliamentary procedure, teamwork, how to evaluate funding and grant applications, and much more. Including that volunteer experience on my resume and sometimes on my cover letter tells my potential employers that I have a willingness to serve on library committees, my effort to be a leader in my community, and my ability to work as part of a team. Getting appointed is as easy as visiting your local city or county website and finding their link to Boards and Commissions, filling out an application, and submitting it.
Appointments are usually for three years with a possibility to be re-appointed for another three year term. I could not finish my three years because I graduated and got a job out of state soon after. Nevertheless, the other commissioners gave me a nice plaque as a going-away gift when I resigned, something I cherish and keep on my office desk.