Volunteers in library – A case study based on the experiences of the Szabó Ervin Library Budapest

Katalin Kiss-Haszon


While international experience and studies show that volunteering in libraries is one of the most common forms of institution-based cultural volunteering, alongside volunteering in museums, it is not widespread in Hungary, where only 36 percent of libraries employ volunteers. On the other hand, libraries host a large number of students completing the required School Community Service hours. Libraries have become increasingly popular with both volunteers and School Community Service students as the COVID-19 epidemic has receded. Consequently, the aim of this case study is to provide a detailed description of the variety of volunteering activities at the Szabó Ervin Library of Budapest, the characteristics of library volunteering and the opportunities the library offers in the field of School Community Service. The volunteers of the Szabó Ervin Library of Budapest are mainly casual volunteers, and there are significantly fewer regular volunteers with a legal status. Library users of different ages and interests come with specific expectations and needs, which libraries cannot always meet with their current resources. These specific needs require professionals with specific knowledge, and our experience shows that the involvement of volunteers of different ages, socio-economic backgrounds and with different knowledge and skills is one way of meeting these needs. We believe that by raising the social profile of libraries, further strengthening their role in the community, training librarians, and developing mechanisms for recruitment and training, we can increase the number of volunteers and the effectiveness of volunteering in libraries.

Keywords: library volunteering, Szabó Ervin Library of Budapest, third place, volunteer coordination, community role,