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Volunteer at a library

Volunteers are a very important and valued part of the work of our Library Service. We regularly recruit volunteers for a variety of different roles. Please select the service area below that interests you, to learn more about the skills we are looking for, the commitment required, and the rewards of working with us. 

Volunteering for the Home Library Service

The service

The Home Library Service provides a vital link to the library for readers who have severely restricted mobility, and would not otherwise be able to reach their local branch. The Home Library Service Volunteer Coordinator will match volunteers with readers. Volunteers visit their local library at times arranged between the reader and the volunteer (generally, around once a month). Volunteers collect items from the library and deliver them to their readers. On delivery, any previously borrowed items are collected and returned to the library. Please see our Home Library Service page for more information on the service.

The role

As a volunteer, you will be selecting library items for the readers you are matched with, and delivering them to their homes. You will be a lifeline in preserving your readers' link with the library and their love of books. In some cases, you may also be one of the reader’s much diminished number of social contacts, and a greatly appreciated link to the wider world.

The rewards

Home Library service volunteers gain satisfaction from combating the social isolation of people who are housebound, and enabling their readers to continue to enjoy and discuss books. This role would suit you if you would like to spend a few hours a month to make a positive difference to other people's lives, and the following are important to you:

  • a love of books and talking about them
  • an enthusiasm for libraries and an understanding of the personal impact of not being able to access them
  • an enjoyment in talking to others in a social context
  • a concern for the welfare of people who are housebound
Our commitment to you

In return for your valuable time and effort as a volunteer, we as a service commit to the following:

  • to give you a personal introduction to all your readers, and to provide a reader profile which outlines what sorts of books they like reading, and in what format (ordinary print / large print / audio).
  • to provide assistance in selecting reading material for your readers, if required
  • to maintain volunteer and reader records at the library. A printout of all items on loan is always available on request
  • To offer you the facility to do all of the library business needed for the role either online, using your readers' borrower numbers and PIN numbers, or in person at any B&NES library branch
  • to provide relief volunteers when necessary, if you are on holiday, or cannot cover your normal calls 
  • to organise an opportunity for all volunteers to get together at least once a year 
  • to provide you with prompt payment of your travel expenses while volunteering
  • to provide induction and ongoing training, including guidance around personal safety, equalities, data protection, Health and Safety and confidentiality
  • support and a point of contact via a Volunteer Coordinator

Please note: Some Home Library Service volunteers also choose to assist their readers with other everyday tasks, such as shopping or dog walking. These are entirely at the volunteers' discretion, and we can only take responsibility for services relating to the library. 

Your commitment to us

If you become a Home Library Service volunteer, you are committing to the following conditions of service.

  • to collect and deliver books to your reader (this is often monthly, but could vary, according to the reader). Visits will be at a mutually convenient time
  • to select appropriate material for each reader.
  • to request specific items from the library, if required by the reader. We encourage readers to request as many specific titles as possible. You can place reservations in the normal way, online or by visiting any library branch
  • to respect the confidentiality of their readers and not to compromise their safety
  • to claim mileage payments regularly for your travel expenses while volunteering
  • to ensure that you car insurance covers your volunteering role
  • to co-operate with Health & Safety and Equal Opportunity requirements
  • to wear Bath & North East Somerset identification badge on all visits to readers
  • to inform the Volunteer Coordinator if you have any concerns about the tasks involved with the Home Library Service

 

Volunteering as a Library IT Guide

The service

This service aims to provide basic IT assistance to visitors to Bath Central Library. This might be support to help visitors use the library computers, to answer questions about how to access library or other council services online, or more general assistance with using digital technology. There is usually a Volunteer IT Guide available Monday to Friday from around 11am to 5pm. Generally, service users will make an appointment in advance. 

The role

You will be supporting library visitors with all kinds of digital challenges, for example, scanning a document, setting up an email account, downloading our e-books or accessing government or health information. Generally, you will be working one-to-one with someone who has made an appointment to consult you. Although you will receive training to help people to access council library services, you are not responsible for assisting them to do council business.

The rewards

Volunteer IT Guides gain satisfaction from supporting others to manage technology which they are unable to use on their own. As a result, they enable service users to access and benefit from a wide variety of library and council resources. This role would suit you if you would like to spend a morning or afternoon a week to make a positive difference to other people's lives, and the following are important to you:

  • facilitating learning and the development of life skills
  • an enthusiasm for technology and an understanding of the impact of not being able to use it
  • an enjoyment in talking to others in a social context
  • a patient and supportive manner
  • a concern for the welfare of other people

Volunteering with children and young people

The service

A number of our library branches run regular activities and events for children and young people. Check your own local library to see what's on. The Library Service recruits volunteers to help run these fun and educational sessions. The current programme includes:

  • Storytime (reading aloud, for the under-fives)
  • Baby Bounce and Rhyme (a singing and social group for parents and babies and children aged up to three)
  • Lego Club (model building fun for ages seven to eleven years)
  • Code Club (an introduction to some of the fun things you can do with computers, for children aged nine to thirteen years)
  • Summer Reading Challenge (part of a national initiative to encourage children aged four to eleven to join their local library and read in their school summer holidays)

The role

Volunteers may run or assist in the management of activity sessions. Most events take place regularly on a weekly basis. 

The rewards

Volunteers gain satisfaction from taking an active part in providing community activities for children and young people. These events promote an early engagement with the library, and in many cases, encourage a lifelong love of reading. Sessions provide invaluable opportunities to forge social links and friendships for both children and their parents. These roles would suit you if you would like to spend a couple of hours each week to make a positive difference to other people's lives, and the following are important to you:

  • the education and welfare of children and young people
  • improving the links between local libraries and their communities
  • helping young people to improve their literacy or pursue a hobby
  • forging social links and combating social isolation

Before you apply

Please note the following conditions, which apply to all volunteers:

  • Library Service volunteers must be aged 16 or over. 
  • We may ask you to provide references when you apply.
  • Where the role involves working with younger or vulnerable people, we may have to send your details for a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check.

Apply online to become a library volunteer

If you prefer, you can download the volunteer application form (PDF, 161 KB). You will need to include details of your previous work or voluntary experience, and give the names of two referees on your application.

Please email your completed application to library_volunteers@bathnes.gov.uk or post it to The Library Volunteer Coordinator, Bath Central Library, 19-23 The Podium, Northgate Street, Bath BA1 5AN.

Once references are received, the Volunteer Coordinator will invite you for an informal interview.

Find out more

Expenses for volunteers
Volunteers can claim reasonable mileage for cars and bicycles, and car parking expenses.
Download the claim form (PDF, 244 KB) or ask the Volunteer Coordinator to give you a printed copy to complete. There is also a mileage claim for bicycles. For current rates, please ask the Volunteer Coordinator, email library_volunteers@bathnes.gov.uk or call 01225 395968.

If you have questions on any aspect of library volunteering, please email the Library Service Volunteer Coordinator at library_volunteers@bathnes.gov.uk or call 01225 395968.

You can find the latest information on current volunteering opportunities at the Bath and North East Somerset Community Volunteering Services website.