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

  • indexing and listing historic documents
  • cataloguing archives 
  • library tasks
  • paper conservation
  • article research 
  • schools outreach 

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 email us at archives@westminster.gov.uk to see availability, before completing an expression of interest form. Alternatively, please have a look at other volunteering services in Westminster.

Example volunteer projects 

Our conservator has a number of volunteers assisting with basic conservation tasks, such as cleaning documents, making bespoke folders, re-framing items for exhibitions and strengthening fragile paper. Over the last few years, thousands of historic theatre programmes have been cleaned, re-bound and undergone minor repairs by our volunteers, so now they are ready to be catalogued and made available for researchers.

We also have volunteers working on a wide variety of archive projects which involve the listing of archives, research and cataloguing. We currently have three volunteers indexing the National Registration Act forms of Paddington residents, from 1915, and volunteers cataloguing our latest deposit from Liberty of London. 

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

Last updated: 20 February 2020