Volunteering in libraries, archives and arts

Westminster libraries, archives and arts offer a wide variety of opportunities for volunteering. Volunteers can take part in routine work or specific projects and activities.

The minimum age to volunteer is 16; there is no upper age limit. Younger people may be taken onto work experience placements when sponsored through a school or educational establishment.

To volunteer, please read our volunteer policy and complete an expression of interest form.

For more information on the volunteering experience and opportunities, visit One Westminster.

1. Libraries, archives and arts

We have a number of different roles and projects in libraries, archives and arts. Examples of typical volunteer roles are listed below.

Libraries

Contact your local library or view opportunities at Westminster Reference Library.

Archives

  • building plans
  • St Martin-in-the-Fields Settlement Records Indexing project
  • preservation and conservation projects
  • education projects

Find out more

Arts

  • researching information or compiling reports
  • general administration
  • assisting with organising specific projects such as launches or networking events
  • assisting at arts workshops or public events

Further details on volunteering are outlined in the libraries, archives and arts volunteer policy (PDF, 198KB).

2. Westminster City Archives

There are many opportunities to get involved in the work of the Archives Centre. View examples of on-going volunteer projects below, and read a volunteer's account of her experiences.

To find out more, please complete an expression of interest form or view other volunteering services in Westminster.

Indexing

Volunteers from the Friends of Westminster Archives have been indexing the St Martin-in-the-Fields poor law settlement examination books. The final index is estimated to yield the names of 180,000 people living in London in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

Settlement examinations can reveal places of birth, fathers of illegitimate children and migration. Through the indexing project, volunteers are creating exclusive access to this information.

Other volunteers are producing indexes of names in parish registers of baptisms, marriages and burials to make them searchable for family historians. They concentrate on volumes not indexed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Building plans

The Archives Centre holds drainage applications plans which are valuable as often there are full sets of building plans included. In October 1999 the Archives Centre staff began sorting, cataloguing and repackaging the first 250 boxes.

Following the success of this project we launched a larger project in 2001 to tackle the remaining 1,000 boxes. This project has an estimated timescale of 8 years.

The project is progressing well and is ahead of schedule with over 40,000 individual plans having been catalogued so far.

Conservation

There are 2 groups of volunteers (the Friends of the Archives Centre and members of the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies) who assist the Conservator in preservation projects after relevant training. They have worked on projects like repackaging theatre playbills and programmes and remounting the slide collection.

Tell us about archives at risk

We are always interested to hear of any old documents, maps, illustrations or photographs relating to Westminster (an area which includes St. Marylebone and Paddington), especially those that may be at risk, and Westminster Archives welcomes enquiries from individuals and institutions about the potential deposit of records

Contact Westminster Archives

3. Westminster Reference Library

Westminster Reference Library, near Leicester Square in the heart of London's West End, contains over 55,000 books and a plethora of other material. Therefore, there is a variety of opportunities offered to volunteers here including improving and enhancing the library's collection by:

  • processing new stock and repairing the old
  • photocopying historic theatre reviews and news cuttings
  • scanning performing arts magazines for useful biographical articles
  • helping to move and tidy stock

To volunteer, please complete the expression of interest form. For more information, view our volunteer policy, or visit or contact the library.

4. Summer Reading Challenge

The Summer Reading Challenge is a national reading initiative which encourages children to read for fun over the summer holidays.

The combination of fun, freedom, and creativity impacts significantly on children’s reading levels and confidence. Taking part in the challenge helps prevent the ‘summer reading dip’ which can occur when children are at home over the long summer break and, without reading opportunities, lose confidence in their reading.

We are looking for volunteers to help deliver the Summer Reading Challenge in Westminster libraries. Young people (14 to 25 year olds) are especially welcome to apply to volunteer.

Download the Summer Reading Challenge volunteer profile (PDF, 84KB) to find out more about the roles offered.

Apply to be a reading mentor (docx, 94KB)


Last updated: 12 June 2017
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