In 2015 the Scottish Library and Information Council commissioned Blake Stevenson to conduct a literature review exploring the impact of volunteers on library services. Looking at both volunteer-run libraries and the use of volunteers within libraries, it gives a comprehensive evaluation of the practice.  

The Volunteer Review included government reports, journals and newspaper articles from around the UK – particularly in England and Wales where there has been a steady growth in volunteer run libraries in recent years.    

The Impact of Volunteers

The report sets out the different ways in which volunteers are being using within library services. This includes their role in extending and supplementing services as well as looking at the types of duties they perform, including:

  • Supporting reading groups
  • Acting as computer buddies
  • Assisting with shelving books
Conclusions

The review concludes volunteer-run libraries with no paid professional and Local Authority support would not be a preferred option for library services in Scotland.

It highlights ongoing concerns surrounding the use of volunteers including sustainability, financial viability and building maintenance. However volunteers can add value to services and are a complimentary addition to paid staff.

If you would like a hard copy of the review please get in touch.