I’ve been a volunteer in the library and archives environment in one way or another for over a year now, in a bid to gain experience. Have to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as a volunteer and have been immeasurably lucky in the positions I have had, especially my current one. I’ve have gained a plethora of new skills and learned such a vast amount and am especially fortunate as my mentor goes out of his way to give me tasks that he knows I will benefit from and I am eternally grateful for all the opportunities I have been given. Indeed everyone I have encountered during my spell as a volunteer has been generous with their time and words of wisdom. I have been given such a variety of tasks from handling rare books, indexing a collection of journals and creating finds lists to surveying some of the Town Library’s photographic collections, whilst in the public library I have done all sorts including shelving and all aspects of circulation and generally getting to meet and help members of the public. I really have been given a true insight into how hard librarians work and the multifaceted nature of the role. I have also had lots of opportunities for networking and as a direct result of volunteering I have been given the chance to meet and work with bookbinders and cataloguers, as well as generally meeting the people who use and appreciate the resources that the library provides.
My experiences have been nothing but positive (I wholeheartedly wish this could be the same for everyone). Everything I have done has been beneficial and a learning opportunity which I have always endeavoured to make the most of. My C.V. has been given a huge boost and I have gained in confidence and I am armed with lots of useful skills which hopefully I will one day get the chance to carry forward into a professional position. I hope that overall there has been a reciprocal benefit- that not only have I learnt but that I have in turn given something back and helped in some small way. I don’t believe in any way that the work I do as a volunteer is a substitute for professional librarianship, so I don’t feel that what I do devalues the profession. In fact it is because I value it so highly that I am here in the first place!