Volunteering at the Archives: Why you Should!

Last night's Archives Program was about volunteering at the Galt Archives! If you are interested in volunteering, or if you're just wondering what it is that we do at the archives, here is some information for you.

The first reason you should volunteer at the archives is the great experience you get. History or Museum Studies students are provided with good practical work experience in one of their fields, while some volunteers come to update, or learn new, skills.

For example, Alice, one of the current volunteers at the Galt archives, came to update her skills by scanning photos. Chris, one of the archives long time volunteers, has worked on transcription, research projects, scanning photos, and processing while volunteering the archives! 

Volunteer Alice scans photos at the Archives!

Volunteer Alice scans photos at the Archives!

The second reason you should volunteer at the archives is because it is fun! The work volunteers do at the Galt provides a fun, rewarding, and educational experience. The archivist, Andrew Chernevych, tries to match each volunteer’s projects with their personal interests. Chris works on projects on Waterton Lakes National Park because of her interest in the area.

Andrew also gives each volunteer two projects to work on at a time so there is some variety. Each volunteer is usually provided with an arrangement description, which includes organizing and describing a collection.

The second project each volunteer is assigned is usually labeling items or data entry. Projects are never rushed and Andrew encourages each volunteer to take the time to explore or research their project if they’re interested. Projects are on-going so there is never a dull moment in the archives. In fact Chris shared the unofficial motto of the archives volunteers: “there’s more where that came from!”

The volunteering shifts at the archives are also excellent! Each volunteer is expected to come in once or twice per week for three to three and a half hour shifts. The shifts are flexible and Andrew is very understanding about taking time off or switching shifts.

The third reason you should volunteer at the archives is because it is a public service. The Galt Museum and archives wouldn’t be able to function without its volunteers. And at the archives you help the museum preserve our local heritage and history! Chris told us that each job you do, no matter how tedious or repetitive, provides you with a sense of purpose. She said, “There’s always more history being created.”

If you are interested in volunteering at the archives or any area of the Galt Museum and Archives, contact Chris Roedler, the Galt’s Volunteer Coordinator. He will set up an appointment to interview you about where you want to work and what you want to accomplish while volunteering at the Galt.

To get his contact information click here.

By Karissa Patton

Karissa Patton is a fourth-year History major at the University of Lethbridge who is interested in Southern Alberta Women’s History. This spring she is the archives assistant social media contributor for the Galt Museum & Archives, earning Applied Studies credit while sharing stories uncovered in the archives.