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Volunteer and docent management: Resource roundup

Challenging in the best of times, volunteer management has become even more complex during the pandemic. These resources explore strategies for keeping volunteers engaged and maintaining authentic and meaningful relationships with while keeping everyone safe. As populations become more vaccinated, these examples may provide inspiration for continuing volunteer activities and relationships that are not reliant on physical space.

Note: These examples may have changed since being reviewed. Last accessed April 20, 2021.

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COVID-19 and a volunteer run museum,” from Museums and Heritage Highland, published June 29, 2020: The process of adapting a volunteer-run museum to a pandemic.

Giving Back: Museums and Older Volunteers During COVID-19,” from the American Alliance of Museums, published November 25, 2020: Blog post exploring ethical and strategic issues at play when managing an older volunteer force during a pandemic.

Giving Back: Three Model Practices for Sustaining Older Volunteers During COVID-19,” from American Alliance of Museums, published December 4, 2020: Blog post detailing three museums’ approaches to pandemic-aware volunteer management.

Docent Enrichment in the Age of Social Distancing,” from National Docent Symposium Council: Examples of docent engagement from the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore.

Indiana Historical Society’s “Documenting COVID-19 in Indiana”: The Society has collected items that document Indiana’s past and are now asking online volunteers to share stories, photos, and other items, pertaining to their pandemic experience. It’s an opportunity being promoted by the Indianapolis Public Library.

Staying Connected with a Docent Share-a-thon,” from National Docent Symposium Council, published September 2020: The Mini Docent Research Guides project from the Phoenix Art Museum.

COVID-19 and Your Volunteer Program,” from American Association for Museum Volunteers: Quick tips for pandemic-aware volunteer management.

Considerations for In-Person Corporate Volunteering During COVID-19,” from Points of Light, published March 31, 2020: Checklists of considerations for companies and nonprofit organizations using in-person volunteers.

Phone Calls and Lip Balm: Small Museums Taking Care of Volunteers During COVID-19,” from Association of State and Local History, published May 11, 2020: Simple engagement strategies from small museums.

All accessed: April 16, 2021


San José Public Library’s volunteer services: The San José Public Library has converted most of its volunteering engagement to online programs and can serve as a model for other libraries looking for volunteer opportunity ideas during the pandemic, particularly on ways to involve teens.

Ventura County Library’s “Virtual Volunteering”: The public library that serves Ventura County, California, has virtual volunteering tasks for teens and adults, including co-creating digital content to support activities related to crafts, STEAM and/or “Guides,” and co-leading the Virtual Volunteering as a Virtual Teen Advisory Group member.

Cindy Crushes Programming: Teen Volunteering During a Pandemic,” by Teen Librarian Cindy Shutts, by School Library Journal: White Oak Library District in Illinois has created virtual volunteering opportunities for teens during the pandemic. The roles are all regarding content creation for the library’s online resources.

Lincoln’s mail included advice, warnings and a call to shoot deserters,” from The Washington Post: An article about a large Library of Congress online program that has been utilizing volunteers for transcribing letters to Lincoln, letters to and from Clara Barton, articles relating to Teddy Roosevelt, and more.

All accessed: April 16, 2021