Monday, 21 November 2011


Thing 22 looks at volunteering. In the days when I hoped to be a teacher, I spent many hours volunteering in primary schools, but I have never volunteered in the library sector. Unless you count being my school's 'lunchtime librarian' when I was 13 : )

I have been fortunate enough that volunteering was never a route I needed to consider, though it's one I would certainly have taken should it have been necessary. At Special Collections and Archives, I'm on the other side of the equation, dealing with requests for volunteering, and training and supervising volunteers we take on.

We take on very few volunteers, and this is not due to a lack of offers - quite the contrary. I always find it very hard to turn away offers of help, since it is always needed, but we lack spare workstations and sufficient staff available to train and supervise volunteers on a regular basis. The problem with offering work which requires less training is that the volunteer gains little from the experience. We believe that placements should be mutually beneficial, and with this comes the need for time and effort from both sides. My experience of working with volunteers has been very positive - all have been tremendously motivated, talented and quick to pick up new skills - so we hope one day to be in a position to offer more voluntary opportunities.

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