When it comes to what I would consider large-scale volunteering, back when I was in Aurora, CO for a period of years on was both on the board of the Aurora Public Library and the Friends of the Aurora Public Library, the later involving being the manager of the bookstore. While here in Nebraska I’ve been the chair of the Information Technology and Access Round Table (ITART) of the Nebraska Library Association, wan the local liaison for the annual NLA conference this year, and I’ve been asked by several people to run for NLA president next year.
On what I would consider small-scale volunteering I regularly give talks on topics to libraries and library-related groups that aren’t officially part of my job duties (i.e. for groups outside of Nebraska) for which I don’t ask to be paid. (This isn’t to say that I never charge, it just depends on a lot of different factors.)
All in all, I’d say I have a strong history of volunteering and giving back to the library profession. I’ll also add that not all of the volunteering I’ve ever done has been simple or easy but in the end they’ve all be satisfying and worthwhile experiences. So, the simple answer is yes, volunteering is a good thing and I hardly feel that it devalues our profession.
In the past week I’ve had discussions with two colleagues about requests they’d received about speaking outside of their normal job duties. In both cases the conversations started with “how much should I charge” and ended up focusing on how much outside-of-work work were they willing to put into the experience. In both cases I stressed that speaking for pay does look good on a resume but that doing it for free is nothing to sneeze at either, especially when the speaking gig wasn’t your idea.
In then end, it’s all a balancing act. Sometimes giving back is more important than a check.