about + membership banner

Volunteer Policy

Purpose
At Idea Exchange volunteerism offers the community tangible opportunities to engage in the everyday business of what we do and to become part of who we are. We consider our volunteers our best ambassadors and part of our team. Volunteers do not take on the same role as staff, but offer supplemental support. Volunteers help Idea Exchange expand and enrich its services. Volunteers will not be used to replace the work done by paid library staff.  Volunteers allow us to reach farther and do more with the staffing and resources we have while helping us to increase community engagement in our programs and events.

Policy Statement
Idea Exchange is committed to offering volunteer assignments that offer meaningful work for the volunteer. Idea Exchange wants to ensure that all volunteers serve in positions that reflect their skills and interests while supporting the needs of Idea Exchange.

Scope
This policy applies to volunteers in all programs and services authorized by and undertaken on behalf of Idea Exchange., with the exception of the Trustees of the Cambridge Public Library Board. Volunteers are not covered by the Employment Standards Act, 2000 nor the Workman’s Compensation Act, 1990.

1. Definitions

Library Board: A public library board, county library board or a county library co-operative board as defined in the Public Libraries Act, 1990.

Relative: An employee’s spouse (including common law spouse), same-sex partner, children (adult or minor), parents and/or siblings.

Volunteer: A person who voluntarily extends their services to actively support Idea Exchange and who does so without remuneration. While the Trustees of the Cambridge Public Library Board volunteer their time and do not receive remuneration, for the purposes of this policy they will be referred to as Board Members as they have roles and responsibilities that are different from those of other volunteers.

2. General Principles

2.1 Volunteer Roles
Our volunteers support the services and programming we offer and contribute to the energy that makes Idea Exchange such a unique and vibrant organization. As our organization has grown and evolved, the ways that volunteers engage have changed as well.

At Idea Exchange volunteerism is organized through a system of assignments, locations and staff contacts. All volunteer assignments fall under a specific volunteer profile with clearly defined tasks, responsibilities and objectives. All volunteer assignments are required to offer meaningful work for the volunteer so that all volunteers serve in positions that reflect their skills and interests while meeting the needs of Idea Exchange.

2.2 Inclusion in the Volunteer Program
To volunteer at Idea Exchange a person must be a minimum 14 years of age and/or be enrolled in high school, be able to meet the requirements of one or more of our available volunteer positions and be able to offer a minimum of 10 hours of volunteer time. Idea Exchange is committed to developing and maintaining a volunteer program in which differing ideas, abilities, backgrounds and needs are fostered and valued. Placements are based on the availability of opportunities, the needs of the organization and the suitability of candidates. An application for a volunteer placement does not guarantee a volunteer position.

At Idea Exchange we do not have the supervisory ability to welcome court mandated volunteering. As per our policy for paid staff, volunteers may not work in positions under the supervision of an employee to whom they are related.

2.3 Relationships Between Volunteers and Idea Exchange Staff
Volunteer management takes place through the cooperation of the volunteer coordinator, staff contacts and volunteers.

2.3.1 Responsibilities of the Volunteer Coordinator

  • To review, schedule and fill staff requests for volunteer support
  • To ensure safe and healthy working conditions
  • To screen, orient and place volunteers based on their interests and abilities
  • To facilitate positive communication between staff and volunteers
  • To offer opportunities for volunteer recognition and thanks
  • To maintain and utilize the VicNet Management platform

2.3.2 Responsibilities of the Staff Contact

  • To request volunteer support for specific program(s), event(s) or task(s)
  • To prepare the materials for the tasks to be completed
  • To provide task-oriented direction
  • To ensure the volunteer is prepared and able to perform assigned tasks safely
  • To welcome the volunteer at the time of arrival and oversee volunteer tasks during volunteer shifts
  • To ensure that volunteer hours are correct on VicNet and remove volunteers who don’t show up from the assignment

2.3.3 Responsibilities of the Volunteer

  • To review and observe our guidelines for volunteer service
  • To behave in a way that is respectful of staff, volunteers and members of the public and is appropriate to the event, location and audience
  • To perform the tasks as outlined in their volunteer job description
  • To protect and preserve the privacy of our members and guests when confidential materials are accessible during volunteer shifts (Visiting Library Service/Special Projects volunteers).
  • To follow all Idea Exchange policies and procedures while volunteering
  • To work in a safe manner at all times.

3.0 Volunteer Screening and Development
To be added to the team, all new volunteers must be screened, attend a general orientation and be placed by the volunteer coordinator. These placements are not permanent and will be reviewed and revised as the public service and programming needs of the organization change.

Screening always includes a volunteer ‘welcome interview’ and at the discretion of the volunteer coordinator and depending on the tasks a volunteer is interested in performing, may include a vulnerable sector police check and reference checks. The objective of screening is to discover if we have appropriate opportunities for a potential volunteer placement and plan the required orientation and training.

Training sessions always include a general orientation; and may include additional training such as Visiting Library Service Policy and Practices review, adopt-a-shelf training or Visiting Library Service for Kids training. The objective of general orientation is to review our guidelines, acclimatize the volunteer to our booking systems and practices and ensure that the volunteer is prepared to begin their volunteering and/or further training.

All personal information is collected for internal purposes only. All information is collected under the authority of the Public Libraries Act, RSO 1990 c. P.44. Volunteer records will be kept in a secure location. All requests for information about volunteers must be through the Volunteer Coordinator who will consider volunteer files as confidential.

3.1 Volunteer Assignments
Once screened and oriented, a volunteer’s status will be changed to ‘active’ on VicNet and the appropriate task assignments will be made. At this point volunteers can book volunteering opportunities based on the job descriptions they have been cleared to do, and their own personal schedule and preferences. Volunteers are never added to a schedule without their prior knowledge or consent.

All volunteer assignments are submitted to the volunteer coordinator by staff via a Request for Volunteer Support Form. Each individual assignment is required to have a staff contact, set schedule and plan of activities/tasks/ and will be reviewed by the volunteer coordinator before being added to list of opportunities on VicNet.

Volunteer opportunities will be filled based on the availability of volunteers. A program or service should never rely on the support of a volunteer. They assist staff in a program/service delivery. Idea Exchange reserves the right to terminate a volunteer’s service if the required conditions change. Nothing in this policy shall be deemed to create a contract between the volunteer and Idea Exchange or the City of Cambridge. Both the volunteer and Idea Exchange have the right to terminate the volunteer’s association with Idea Exchange at any time, for any reason, with or without cause.

Volunteers who do not adhere to the policies and procedures of Idea Exchange or who fail to satisfactorily meet the expectations of their volunteer assignment are subject to dismissal.

Grounds for immediate dismissal may include but are not limited to gross misconduct or insubordination; being under the influence of alcohol or drugs while performing volunteer assignment; theft of property or misuse of Idea Exchange funds, equipment or materials; lies or falsification of records; illegal, violent or unsafe acts; abuse or mistreatment of Idea Exchange staff, members or co-volunteers; failure to abide by Idea Exchange policy or procedure; unwillingness or inability to support and further the mission of the organization and/or the objectives of the program.

3.2 Working Conditions
Idea Exchange is required to follow and maintain the same health and safety standards for volunteers as for employees. Idea Exchange does not provide any medical, health, accident or workers compensation benefits for any volunteer.

In general volunteer schedules should not exceed 12 hours/week. Exceptions can be made for special projects and/or short term opportunities.

3.3 Recognition
Idea Exchange recognizes the immense contribution made by our volunteers through positive and thankful daily interactions, quarterly newsletters and regular volunteer appreciation events. This is the responsibility of the volunteer coordinator.  

3.4 Expenses
At Idea Exchange we do not ask volunteers to assume tasks that incur expenses and therefore does not offer reimbursement for travel.

3.5 Insurance
Idea Exchange maintains general liability insurance that provides coverage for volunteers when they are providing volunteers service onsite within our locations. Volunteers are not eligible for WSIB. Staff members are not permitted to transport volunteers in their automobiles.

Adopted: June 22, 2016 (Board Motion: 16.40)