VOLUNTEERING to the Howard County Historical Society offers several rewards for Kathy Kirkwood of Columbia.
Working at least one day each week in the society's library, she keeps records and helps visitors do research. ''I'm following the ways of my family," she says. "You put something back into your community.
''Also, when I do a genealogy search for someone, I inevitably come across some information about my own family, which has been in Howard County for five generations,'' she adds.
The Howard County Historical Society is located at 8328 Court Ave., in Ellicott City, 21043, and houses a museum and library.
In its museum, magnificent antiques bear the county's history, and although the library is not a lending library, it is a source for researching county history and family genealogies in its many county records, family documents, census information and old newspapers. Much of the material is on microfilm.
The society was founded in 1957 and in 1959 was established in its present location, a building vacated by the First Presbyterian Church. Alda Hopkins Clark, a county resident, purchased the vacant building and donated it as a tribute to her late husband, Judge James Clark.
Ms. Kirkwood, 45, has taught in the Howard County school system for 24 years. She is ''a media specialist, which is just a new term for librarian,'' at the Dunloggin Middle School, where she teaches students library skills.
Besides her efforts at the historical society, every 52 days she donates blood to the Red Cross. ''It is one of the simple things people can do for others. Just over an hour of your time is worth the doing,'' says Ms. Kirkwood, who on weekends sells model homes for Pulte Homes, Inc.
Volunteering has always been a way of life in her family. Her parents, Laura and Bill Pfeiffer, are active volunteers, she says. Mr. Pfeiffer is a member of the Lions Club, and on a community action council. Mrs. Pfeiffer drives for Meals On Wheels, helps at the county's Hospice Service and is a member of the Women's Club.
Every Tuesday evening, Ms. Kirkwood is at the society's library. She helped establish expanded hours there. Library hours are from noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday. Museum hours are from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday and Saturday. Appointments can be made to visit both at other hours.
Bettina C. Jenkins has been the museum director for six years. Mary Mannix has been the library director for two years. ''We are a staff of two with about 15 or 20 regular volunteers and others who work on special occasions,'' says Mrs. Jenkins, giving special praise to volunteer Phil Reitzel, "who is here almost every day to assist in the museum and library. He lifts and moves for us and whatever we need. We don't know what we'd do without him,'' she says.
Volunteers are needed as docents, record keepers, for secretarial work, library research and more. ''Our docents also offer walking tours of Ellicott City, upon request, for groups of at least seven to eight people," says Mrs. Jenkins. The cost is $4 per person.
To volunteer or for more information about the Howard County Historical Society, call Bettina Jenkins at (410) 366-1284.