Thursday, 20 December 2012

On the eleventh day of Christmas... true love sent to me…eleven volunteers.

Over the last 12 months our volunteer programme has gone from strength to strength, and eleven people have benefited from the training and experience they have gained whilst working with LHSA staff and collections.

We’ve offered a range of volunteer placements from one-day taster sessions for those who are interested in the archive sector but have yet to decide whether it is the career from them, through to those who have volunteered with us for the whole year and are building up a body of experience to then go on to train professionally. Our volunteers come to us with different levels of experience and we cater the work to make sure we offer them the best placement possible, and to ensure we get the best use out of their freely-given time!

Our volunteers have been students, members of the public and Edinburgh University or NHS Lothian staff. They have come to us as they see the opportunity to volunteer with LHSA as a means of getting a place on a postgraduate archive studies programme, making a career change or establishing their career path in the archive sector. This year we’ve been very pleased to work with Real Jobs and NHS Lothian to offer placements for users of the mental health service wishing to get back into work.

We are able to offer volunteers placements to develop archive or conservation skills depending on the individual's particular interests. In the case of the latter our volunteers this year have treated a significant number of architectural plans that would otherwise be too fragile to use, and helped re-house new accessions before they are transferred to the store.

Trimming a repair to an architectural plan

One of our conservation volunteers, Fiona, behind some recently re-housed accessions

We will continue our volunteer programme throughout 2013, with the addition of two internships with a small stipend attached. We will be offering one archive internship and one conservation internship, full-time for 10 weeks. We’re excited about the new possibilities this will open up to the individuals who secure the internships as well as the work they will undertake to preserve the collections and enhance accessibility.

Our volunteers often post to the LHSA blog, so regular progress reports will be available throughout 2013!

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