Library volunteers - you can make a difference

Visit libraries safely.

With the Government easing of protective measures from July 19th we would like to reassure you that your safety remains our priority.

We want everyone to feel safe and comfortable so would ask that you treat others using the building with consideration as we know that many visitors wish to remain cautious.

We are managing the reintroduction of services and there will be local variations. For details of services from your local library find out more from our Library and Record Office services during Coronavirus (Covid-19) page, or check the Facebook page or website of your local community library for further information.

Libraries across North Yorkshire are looking for volunteers to help with a variety of duties.

In return, they offer people the chance to make a positive difference in their local communities. Trained volunteers of all ages, abilities and experience can gain valuable experience and learn new skills, with young people in particular able to add volunteering to their CV.

Once you have expressed an interest in becoming a volunteer, we will meet to discuss the role in more detail and ask you to fill in a registration form, if you haven't already done so. We will ask you to give details of two people (not relatives) we can contact for a character reference.

We have three types of roles: general volunteer, library headquarters volunteer, and home library and information service volunteer. Some libraries may also have specific roles they need help with, such as IT support, help with events and activities, or someone to select books for home library service customers. Please ask at your local library for details of these roles.

Volunteering to help with general library duties

This role is to help people visiting the library and assist with the library routines to maintain an effective service in a pleasant environment.

Volunteers will undertake general library routines and procedures, including:

  • meeting and greeting library customers;
  • helping people join the library;
  • assisting library users with self-service;
  • helping customers find the resources they want;
  • helping customers with computers;
  • assisting with library events;
  • helping to maintain the book stock and library displays;
  • reshelving books and keeping the library safe and tidy;
  • checking shelves for requested items to move to other libraries; and
  • helping to promote the library service in the community.

The library team offer ongoing training and support for volunteers. You can also access free online training to help you develop your skills further. You can find support on hand from your fellow volunteers.

We do not require volunteers to have special skills or experience, but the role would suit someone who:

  • is literate and numerate;
  • is comfortable with using IT;
  • has good communication, interpersonal and organisational skills; and
  • can work as part of a team.

Volunteers should:

  • have a courteous, calm approach to the public and enjoy dealing with people, especially children;
  • be punctual and reliable;
  • be supportive of the library in its commitment to making resources and events accessible and welcoming;
  • enjoy reading and finding out information; and
  • have a commitment to the equality and diversity of the local community.

Volunteering to help the home library service

Home library and information service volunteers work alongside library staff to help people who find it difficult to visit the library by delivering books, audio books and information.

You can email for details about areas where volunteers are needed or visit our home library service page for more information. 

Volunteers need to be available to make a regular weekday commitment of about two hours, once a fortnight, on an agreed day.

We are looking for caring people who don't mind spending some time chatting to customers, many of whom are elderly or have a disability.

You will be paired with another volunteer to visit the same people each time. Volunteers usually visit between five and nine addresses, including residential or nursing homes. Volunteers use their own cars and are paid out-of-pocket expenses. Many of the visits are in and around each town, but you may also travel to villages or hamlets.

We are often looking for volunteers to help organise the delivery rotas, or for relief volunteers to fill in when other volunteers can't attend.

Many of the people using our service are vulnerable adults, so we have to carry out an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check before you can start volunteering. After your check has been completed, you will attend a short induction and be paired with another volunteer and allocated a route. Usually, an existing volunteer will show you your new route and will introduce you to the people who use the service. Then you are ready to start delivering books.

The volunteer may do a selection of the following tasks:

  • Visit people in their own home or in residential homes to deliver preselected materials, and collect materials that are finished with.
  • Give a regular commitment on a set day once a fortnight.
  • Deliver the books with a volunteer partner. One of the pair of volunteers will use their own car (fuel expenses will be reimbursed at 40p per mile).
  • Spend time talking to customers, particularly about the choice of books.
  • Keep simple records on the paperwork provided about customers visited, requests for books and messages for library staff and take them back to the library at the end of the delivery.
  • Be aware that customers’ health and home circumstances can change and offer extra information to customers as appropriate if it is felt they may need support to live independently.
  • Take part in meetings and training sessions relating to the role.
  • Inform the volunteer route organiser (or home library and information service volunteer coordinator or branch staff) if unable to visit because of ill-health or holidays, and to cover for other volunteers if available.
  • Help with administration and organising rotas.
  • Maintain customer confidentiality at all times.
  • Undertake any other tasks relevant to the role.

This role will require some lifting of bags of books and may include using stairs and lifts.

We do not require volunteers to have special skills or experience, but the role would suit someone who has the following qualities:

  • good communication and interpersonal skills;
  • punctual and reliable;
  • a willingness and ability to cope with a small amount of paperwork;
  • an interest in reading or listening to books; and
  • supportive of the library in its commitment to making the service accessible and welcoming.

All our home library service delivery volunteers must have a Disclosure and Barring Service check before they start volunteering. 

This involves disclosing all previous spent and unspent convictions. As part of this process, we will meet you face-to-face to carry out an identity check and will tell you what information you need to provide. The check will take four to six weeks and you will not be able to begin volunteering until you have been cleared. Having a criminal record is not an automatic bar to volunteering with us and each case is dealt with separately. All information is treated in strictest confidence.

We are not able to accept certificates from other organisations.

Volunteering at library headquarters in Northallerton

This role is to assist with a variety of tasks in our bibliographic services department related to book stock to support the delivery of frontline library services across North Yorkshire.

Undertaking general routines and procedures including:

  • helping to maintain the book stock held at library headquarters by, for example, checking for books in poor condition;
  • reorganisation of stock;
  • assisting with choosing and preparing books for collections held in small community venues; and
  • tasks related to deliveries and administration, such as sorting publicity materials for distribution to libraries.

The bibliographic services team offer ongoing training and support for volunteers and there is also free access to online training available to help you develop your skills further.

Skills and experience

You should have:

  • a good level of literacy and numeracy;
  • basic IT skills;
  • communication and interpersonal skills;
  • organisational skills; and
  • the ability to work as part of a team.

Personal qualities

You should:

  • be courteous, with a calm approach to work and enjoy being part of a team;
  • be punctual and reliable;
  • be supportive of the library service in its commitment to making resources available for communities;
  • enjoy reading; and
  • have a commitment to the equality and diversity of the local community.

How to apply or for more information

You can fill in our online application form to apply for a volunteer role.

Anyone with questions about library volunteering can email or telephone 01609 533800. You can also drop into your library to ask about volunteering opportunities and the role of volunteers.