This post is part of our short series of interviews with people who volunteer in the GLAMR industry (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums, Records). The series began with our participation in #blogjune, but there are too many remarkable volunteers, places and stories to restrict them to just one month!
These stories will highlight the profusion of volunteering opportunities across Canberra, and showcase our local volunteer heroes. You can also find out how to volunteer!
Our sixteenth interviewee is Margaret Goode, who volunteers for the National Library of Australia.
Tell us about you and your National Library of Australia volunteer role…
I began volunteering at the National Library several years ago when I was phasing down my consulting business. I began by doing Treasures Gallery and Behind-the-Scenes tours and by undertaking weekend shifts on the foyer information desk.
As I reduced paid work it seems I increased projects at the National Library, commencing the practice of forming small research teams to prepare guides for the library’s exhibitions. We also set up small teams to make a big hit in a short time on projects that library staff will never get to. Currently small teams are working on the Australian theatre programs, rehousing and listing them and entering holdings information on to a shared national database called AusStage.
What are the benefits of volunteering with the National Library?
The public benefit is that the volunteers get a lot of work done for the Library that wouldn’t otherwise be done.
The benefit to me is the satisfaction of doing something productive and the social contact in a very pleasant millieu, providing the contact with the world outside home that working used to give me.
What is the most enjoyable aspect of your volunteer role?
The volunteer work is absorbing, and educative in that I learn a lot of things that I mightn’t otherwise explore.
A big difference from the working life is that while you are responsible for doing work properly when you’re at the Library, there is no management responsibility staying with you when you walk out the door to go home. That is very, very nice.
And the volunteers in the Library staff are really delightful, varied, interesting and good spirited to people, in other words lovely people to be with. The library staff are wonderful to the volunteers, and vice versa, and no harm comes from people being nice to each other.
Volunteers at the National Library can choose to provide exhibition tours, behind-the-scenes tours or assist the public at the Foyer Information Desk (FID). How did you choose your tour specialisations and projects?
I guess it is a combination of what my background would make me suited to and what the Library needs at any particular time.
Do you have a favourite insight into the library or a library secret that you could share?
The National Library is a place where the starting point for interaction is goodwill. On the front desk, for example, when you tell people that exhibitions, tours and kids activities are free they are amazed and delighted. Some people don’t expect a free good, and do value them when they receive one.
How do people express interest to volunteer with the National Library?
The National Library offers a range of volunteer roles – assisting the public at the Foyer Information Desk, welcoming visitors, providing guided tours or behind-the-scenes doing dedicated project work.
You can find out more about how to apply for the Volunteer Program on the National Library’s Become a volunteer webpage.