We love our volunteers at Explore, and we know that without your support we cannot provide many of our additional services.  We welcome volunteers from all of York’s communities, whether you want to gain some skills to get back into work, have a talent you would like to share, or just love libraries and archives. Our opportunities range from gardening to teaching coding – as well as the chance to get up close with books and archives – and there really is something for everyone!

If you volunteer for Explore, it’s a great opportunity to meet new people, develop new skills or share yours with others. It’s also been proven to improve well-being, so why not give it a go?

In return, we will provide you with training and feedback to help you carry out your role and to develop your skills, give you the opportunity to meet with others, and reimburse you for any travel that’s needed to get to your role.

We are committed to not using volunteers to replace our paid staff, but your support helps us grow new projects and enhances the work we do in our libraries and archives.

Interesting in supporting us? Please see the current roles we have available, there’s an FAQ document and Volunteer Policy if you want to find out more and then you can apply here.

Explore is an equal opportunities employer and our volunteers will always we treated with respect and fairness in accordance with our equalities policy.

Current Volunteer roles

Summer Reading Challenge 2020

Research has shown that the Summer Reading Challenge can help children to maintain their reading levels over the summer holiday, as well as helping them develop their confidence and self-esteem. By helping us to deliver the challenge you will be helping children to develop a love of reading and, most importantly, have fun along the way. You will enable children to get more out of the challenge and help them to complete it and receive rewards and recognition.

For further information see Volunteer SRC role description 2020. 

Location: This opportunity is available  at all libraries.

Archives Support

We’re looking for passionate volunteers to support customers using the new archives and local history service, through orientation and answering simple questions like how to find a newspaper article or locate a map.

You’ll also monitor the local and family history spaces and maintain the security and preservation of the collections when they are in use.

For further information, see Archives Support.

Location: This opportunity is available  at York Explore only.

Booksale organiser

Sales of old and duplicate books are held regularly, raising valuable income to buy new books. Sales normally take place over several days, including weekends, manned by volunteers with guidance and support from staff. This is a chance to gain experience interacting with customers and working as part of a team.

For further information, see Booksale Organiser.

Location: This role is available at all Explore locations.

Cafe Volunteer

This is an excellent opportunity to gain practical experience, build confidence and meet people. It’s important to us that all our cafes have a friendly, welcoming atmosphere and are a clean and tidy space for everyone to enjoy.

For more information see Explore Cafe Volunteer

Location: This opportunity is available at York, Acomb, Tang Hall and Rowntree Park Reading Cafe.


As a  Chatterbooks volunteer you will help deliver interactive and fun reading group sessions for children aged 7-12.

You will encourage children to talk about what they’re reading, take part in fun activities inspired by the best children’s books, and choose new books to take home and read.

For further information, see Chatterbooks.

Location: This opportunity is available at York, Acomb, Clifton, Haxby and Tang Hall

Event assistant

We have an exciting programme of events that attract high profile national and local authors and storytellers. We need your help to deliver these entertaining and informative sessions to adult audiences.

For further information, see Event Assistant.

Location: This role is available at all Explore locations

Explore A Story Assistant

Explore a Story is an interactive storytelling session that lasts 1 hour. The session is delivered to up to 20 children between ages of 2 and 5.

For further information, see Explore A Story Assistant.

Location: This role is available at  Explore libraries.

Family History Buddy

You’ll help customers make the most of our family history resources by supporting their online research and answering their questions.

Full training will be given.

For further information, see Family History Buddy.

Location: This opportunity is available at York Explore only

Home Library Service

We offer a home library service for those in our communities who love to read, but can no longer easily leave their home to hop to the nearest library to choose the books they want for themselves. As a Home Library Service volunteer you will choose and deliver books on a regular basis and help people continue to share the joy of reading.

For more information visit our dedicated page.

For further information, click on Home Library Service volunteer

Location: This role is available at all Explore libraries.

IT Buddy

All our libraries have public access IT facilities. York residents can use our PCs for up to two hours a day for free.

Some people need a little help to get started and find the information they’re looking for, whether it’s accessing a particular website, completing an online form or adding attachments to email.

For further information, see IT Buddy.

Location: This role is available at all Explore locations.

Local Library Volunteer

This is an opportunity to gain practical all round experience of working in a small library. Our smaller libraries are managed by one member of staff so really need the support of volunteers to deliver their excellent standard of customer care and range of services.

For further information, click on Local Library Volunteer.

Location : The role is available at Bishopthorpe, Copmanthorpe, Dringhouses, Dunnington, Fulford, Huntington, New Earswick, Poppleton, and Strensall Libraries.

Meet and Greet Volunteer

This is a chance to be the first point of contact for people, presenting a positive image of York Explore. You’ll signpost customers and visitors to wherever they need to be in the building, and help promote services and events.

For further information, see Meeter and Greeter.

Location: This opportunity is available at York Explore library only.

 Shelver and Stock Volunteer

This is an opportunity to gain practical experience of working in a library and ensure that our books are attractively displayed and shelved correctly.

For further information, click on Shelver and Stock.

Location: This role is available at all Explore Libraries & Archive locations

Shop Volunteer

The shop volunteer role offers you the opportunity to work as part of the team supporting the day to day running of Explore.  You will gain experience of engaging with customers and visitors of all ages and backgrounds, and increase your confidence and customer service skills.

For further information, click on Shop volunteer

Location: This role is available at  Acomb, Clifton, Tang Hall and York.


An opportunity to gain experience in working with babies, young children, parents and carers and have the privilege of introducing young minds to new worlds that are only available through stories.

For further information, click on Storyteller.

Location: This role is available at all Explore libraries.


Can I claim expenses?

Volunteers should not be out of pocket as a result of volunteering for us. We’ll reimburse reasonable travel costs up to the value of a day travel ticket within City of York boundaries.

Do I need to supply references?

We like to take up two references for all roles and ask that you supply this information on the application form. They should be people you’ve had recent contact with like a current or recent employer, teacher, neighbour or family friend, but should not be a relative.

What skills and experience do I need?

Most roles just require time, energy and enthusiasm. Any additional skills will be set out in the role description. These might include, for example, previous IT experience.

What support and training will I be given?

You’ll be given all the necessary training and support you need to do your role. You’ll also be given an induction, be invited to the library to meet the staff and get to know the building, and will receive ongoing support as your role progresses.

If you have any other questions, contact us at yorkvolunteers@exploreyork.org.uk.