Volunteering at Bishopsgate Institute
Volunteers at the Institute offer a fresh and diverse perspective on the services we offer, and are an asset in enabling us to fulfill our objectives, in particular to appreciate and share our library and archive collections.
Volunteers give their time freely to support the Institute and are not paid. We are hugely grateful for their time, abilities and enthusiasm, and in return we hope to give an opportunity to develop skills and interests and to make new friends.
We are currently not recruiting any specific volunteers but we welcome expressions of interest. If you would like to find out more about volunteering here, and be kept informed of when we are next recruiting, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Institute involves volunteers in a range of roles, which include the following:
Cultural Events Volunteers help with ticketing, cloakroom, serving drinks at the bar and roving microphone duties for audience questions at the evening talks and discussions, and door duties at lunchtime concerts.
Bishopsgate Voices volunteers record Oral History interviews with people who would like to contribute their memories of life and work in the East End to the library collections. They also undertake administrative tasks related to the project.
Volunteers support archive learning workshops with schools and community groups, helping with room set-up and tidying away, welcoming groups and supporting participants in engaging with workshop activities.
The Conservation team are members of NADFAS who help to conserve pamphlets from the Library collections. They remove the staples (usually rusting) and stitch the pamphlets back together. They also do occasional repair work to damaged pamphlets.
Library volunteers catalogue the library collections to make our holdings known and accessible via our online catalogue.
Archives volunteers work independently on specific projects which involve digitising images from specific archives collections. Digitising images which are on glass slides or negatives means that they can be made more easily accessible for researchers, and that the images are conserved in the long run.
Volunteer ambassadors help to raise the profile of Bishopsgate Institute during its Open Days and other one-off events. They hand out flyers, direct visitors and contribute to the general 'buzz' of the building.
One Volunteer’s Story
I moved to the area 4 years ago and was struck by the lovely Arts and Crafts façade of the Institute, which led me to wander in off Bishopsgate. I was instantly charmed by the library, in particular the way its pleasingly traditional furnishings contrast with the radical nature of some of its collections! I emailed on the off-chance there might be a volunteering vacancy, and was delighted to meet Stefan Dickers, then chief archivist, and learn that a wonderful collection of late 19th/early 20th century images of London on glass slides were being scanned and catalogued. Many of the slides not yet scanned were of City churches, a special interest of mine, so I felt serendipity must be at work!
Currently I’m working on scanning a collection of black and white negatives donated to the library archives by Phil Maxwell, a local photographer specialising in images of street life and political events in East London. The collection provides an interesting record of recent social and political local history. Prior to that I scanned an extensive collection of photographs taken of Spitalfields market just before it ceased trading as a fruit and vegetable market in 1991.
I really enjoy coming into the library every week as the staff are warm and welcoming, and the atmosphere is purposeful yet relaxed. It’s good to be involved in a small way in conserving my neighbourhood’s history, and indeed to learn more about that history in the process.