Volunteers have been synonymous with libraries – but have things changed?

Volunteers in libraries have been a long standing tradition but recently my review of our policies and practices in this area, as well as a review of state law, have caused me to wonder if we are not balancing on the edge of a dangerous precipice.

State statute 67-20-1 deals with volunteers in government.  It seems to indicate that treating volunteers as a fun, casual opportunity that benefits the library is a thing of the past.  Volunteers have to be treated like employees.  The obligations and responsibilities are significant.  Here is the text of this statute for your consideration.

67?20?1.   Short title.


This chapter is known as the “Volunteer Government Workers Act.”

     67-20-2.   Definitions.
As used in this chapter:
(1) “Agency” means:
(a) any department, institution, office, college, university, authority, division, board, bureau, commission, council, or other agency of the state;
(b) any county, city, town, school district, or special improvement or taxing district; or
(c) any other political subdivision.
(2) “Compensatory service worker” means:
(a) any person who has been convicted of a criminal offense;
(b) any youth who has been adjudged delinquent; or
(c) any person or youth who:
(i) has been diverted from the criminal or juvenile justice system; and
(ii) performs a public service for an agency as a condition of the person or youth’s:
(A) sentence;
(B) diversion;
(C) probation; or
(D) parole.
(3) (a) “Volunteer” means any person who donates service without pay or other compensation except expenses actually and reasonably incurred as approved by the supervising agency.
(b) “Volunteer” does not include:
(i) any person participating in human subjects research to the extent that the participation is governed by federal law or regulation inconsistent with this chapter; or
(ii) compensatory service workers.
(c) “Volunteer” includes a juror or potential juror appearing in response to a summons for a trial jury or grand jury.
(4) “Volunteer safety officer” means an individual who:
(a) provides services as a volunteer under the supervision of an agency; and
(b) at the time the individual provides the services to the supervising agency described in Subsection (4)(a), the individual is:
(i) exercising peace officer authority as provided in Section 53-13-102; or
(ii) if the supervising agency described in Subsection (4)(a) is a fire department:
(A) on the rolls of the supervising agency as a firefighter;
(B) not regularly employed as a firefighter by the supervising agency; and
(C) acting in a capacity that includes the responsibility for the extinguishment of fire.
Amended by Chapter 36, 2002 General Session


     67-20-3.   Purposes for which a volunteer is considered a government employee.
(1) Except as provided in Subsection (2), a volunteer is considered a government employee for purposes of:
(a) receiving workers’ compensation medical benefits, which shall be the exclusive remedy for all injuries and occupational diseases as provided under Title 34A, Chapter 2, Workers’ Compensation Act, and Chapter 3, Utah Occupational Disease Act;
(b) the operation of motor vehicles or equipment if the volunteer is properly licensed and authorized to do so; and
(c) liability protection and indemnification normally afforded paid government employees.
(2) (a) Notwithstanding Subsection (1)(a), a supervising agency shall provide workers’ compensation benefits for a volunteer safety officer as provided in Section 67-20-7.
(b) Notwithstanding Subsection (2)(a), a volunteer safety officer is considered an employee of the supervising agency of the volunteer safety officer for purposes of Subsections (1)(b) and (c).


Amended by Chapter 36, 2002 General Session


67?20?4.   Approval of volunteer.


A volunteer may not donate any service to an agency unless the volunteer’s services are approved by the chief executive of that agency or his authorized representative, and by the office of personnel having jurisdiction over that agency.


I would be interested in hearing how other libraries are dealing with volunteers.