(volunteer)WORK in archival care

Archive inventory and management is a huge undertaking. And that’s why many organisations rely on volunteers or students to lend a hand. But how can you get volunteers and students interested? And what’s involved in setting up a volunteer or student programme?

The key is in the name. Volunteer work is work done… voluntarily. However, the practice of volunteering covers a broad gamut, including online volunteering, family volunteering, and more. Consequently, supervising and inspiring volunteers requires a hefty dose of time and energy.

While volunteers don’t earn money, their expenses can be reimbursed.

Een vrijwilliger aan het werk bij Stichting Pim De Rudder, Assenede. (c)CKV, 2020

A volunteer working at the Foundation Pim De Rudder, Assenede - photo: CKV, 2020

Opgeschoonde archiefdozen bij Stichting Pim De Rudder, Assenede - foto: CKV, 2020

New acid-free archival boxes at the Foundation Pim De Rudder, Assenede - photo: CKV, 2020

Find out more about heritage sector volunteering (in Dutch) on the Flemish Institute of Heritage (FARO) website – https://faro.be/publicaties/abc-van-het-vrijwilligerswerk-de-erfgoedsector.

The Flemish Volunteering Centre (vzw Vlaams Steunpunt Vrijwilligerswerk) is also a great resource for general information (in Dutch) on volunteering and working with volunteers https://www.vlaanderenvrijwilligt.be/.

They also provide a toolbox that shows you the ropes on how to recruit volunteers https://www.vlaanderenvrijwilligt.be/publicaties/digitale-publicaties/toolbox-vrijwilligers-werven/.

  1.  Using heritage units to recruit volunteers

If you have a heritage and archive project, your local heritage unit may also be a good way to engage potential volunteers. Heritage units don’t manage any (archival) collection(s) in house. However, they do ensure better conservation of local cultural heritage. For example, they can provide support in collection mapping, conservation, or digitisation. They also have a broad network, partnering with local authorities and heritage organisations, but also frequently collaborating with other sectors, such as health, education, integration, and the arts.  They bring people and ideas together, often leading to unexpected and inspirational heritage projects. The various heritage units also meet to exchange knowledge and experiences. What’s more, they are open to collaborating with supra-local heritage organisations, such as FARO, national museums, archives, and service providers.

To find out more about heritage units nearby, visit https://www.erfgoedcellen.be/.

  1.  Oproep voor stage en jobstudenten

A whole host of art and heritage organisations are eager to offer students an opportunity to put the knowledge they’ve gained into practice. Often, that turns out to be a chance to have small (improvement) projects carried out and benefit from the fresh perspectives and knowledge that archival, information, or library science students have to share. What’s in it for students? They get to gain first-hand experience working in an archive, library, or documentation centre.

If you’re a student looking for more information on student jobs (in Dutch), just visit http://www.studentenarbeid.be/tag/studentenjob/.

Visit https://www.vvbad.be/archiefopleidingen for more information on available archive training and study programmes.

As an arts organisation, you can advertise a call for internships on the VVBAD site or one of the various cultural sector sites, such as Cultuurjobs, Publiq, or Socius.