This week we had a small get together to say thank you to all of our wonderful volunteers who so kindly give up there time to help us with the collections. It was deliberately arranged to coincide with volunteers week and our figures suggest that over the last year we have had 8 volunteers in all and they have clocked up a magnificent 200 hours.
This year particularly has seen a large amount of outreach activities and an increase in teaching sessions, which have all contributed to the service becoming increasingly busy. While this is encouraged as we want people to use the service, it means that in reality less time is available to spend working with the collections and completing those jobs which may be on the wish list, but unfortunately don't seem to get done.
This may be why volunteers are increasingly playing an important role in enabling organisations to get collections catalogued and therefore accessible to the public. CIPFA figures for 2006-2007 recorded 2136 volunteers working in Local Authority archives contributing a total of 188,333 hours
compared to a year later in 2007-2008 which stated 2742 volunteers contributing a total of 211,294 hours. A marked an increase of 22%.(1) The Archive sector update in August 2010 included a short article about a volunteering project at the University of Reading. This involved a collection of 608 boxes containing various contracts, documents and over 60,000 letters from a publishing house called Macmillan and Longman. The project started in January 2010 and is estimated to run for two years which gives a good indication of the time and effort involved, especially when you think that there are 20 volunteers taking part doing a minimum of half a day a week.(2)
We are then very grateful to our volunteers for all their help!
(1) Archive Services Statistics 2006-7 Actuals and Archive Services Statistics 2007-8
Actuals CIPFA, http://www.cipfastats.net/ Quoted in Louise Ray, ' Volunteering in Archives: A Report for the National Council on Archives', June 2009, http://www.archives.org.uk/images/documents/volunteeringinarchivesfinal.pdf >[Accessed 7/6/2013]
(2) The National Archive, 'Archive Sector Update Autumn 2010' http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/information-management/archive-sector-update-autumn-10.pdf [Accessed 6/6/2013]