Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteers play critical roles in Special Collections by helping the repository create digital collections, finding aids, and exhibits of cultural heritage resources. Currently, our archivists train, mentor, and supervise 25 student assistants, interns, and volunteers working more than 250 scheduled hours/week in Special Collections.

Duties and Qualifications

Volunteer duties may include: 

  • arranging and describing archival collections;
  • authoring biographical and historical notes that provide context for archival materials;
  • creating finding aids in compliance with Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS) and local practices using ArchivesSpace;
  • conducting oral history interviews;
  • transcribing audio and video assets;
  • using scanners and cameras to digitize archival materials and rare books;
  • creating descriptive metadata and developing digital collections using CONTENTdm;
  • applying controlled vocabularies, including LCSH, LCNAF, AAT, and RightsStatements.org, to describe digital objects;
  • curating web and physical exhibitions;
  • authoring lesson plans for K-12 audiences;
  • conducting research and writing narratives for grant applications;
  • and developing Buzzfeed quizzes, blog posts, and other outreach initiatives.

Required qualifications include:

  • ability to work independently and produce high quality, thorough, and accurate work;
  • ability to follow detailed written instructions;
  • strong organizational, analytical and problem-solving skills as well as demonstrated initiative and adaptability;
  • working knowledge of office productivity suites, such as Microsoft Office and Google Drive;
  • effective written and oral communication skills;
  • and a working MocsMail or Gmail account.

Desired qualifications include:

  • demonstrated experience working or volunteering in a library or archival repository;
  • and demonstrated experience using complex data entry systems


Interested parties should apply to volunteer in Special Collections by submitting a cover letter, resume, and application, to the Director of Special Collections, Carolyn Runyon, using the UT Vault.

  • Register and/or log into UT Vault at vault.utk.edu. If you are affiliated with UTC, you should use your alias address. Example: abc123@mocs.utc.edu would enter her email address as ABC123@tennessee.edu.
  • Address the message to Carolyn Runyon at Carolyn-Runyon@utc.edu with the Subject: Volunteer Application – Your Name. Compose your message and attach your cover letter, resume, and complete application.
  • Check the box “Send me verification when the message is received.”

The cover letter should provide a description of the applicant's relevant experience and expertise and describe the applicant's motivation for volunteering in Special Collections. The cover letter should also describe how they would like to positively contribute to the mission of Special Collections. We encourage all applicants to think broadly about what they hope to accomplish and pitch projects such as curating exhibits, processing collections, authoring finding aids, drafting records management policies, creating a digital preservation plan, developing programming, or creating curriculum maps, lesson plans, and research guides.

Volunteer candidates must interview with the Director of Special Collections and must be willing work onsite during our regular hours of operation at least 5 hours a week for a minimum of 6 months. All volunteers are subject to a background check and must sign the UTC Library Volunteer Agreement before working in Special Collections.


Special Collections communicates and organizes schedules with volunteers through email and a Google calendar. Further, Special Collections uses Google Sheets to manage most projects. In order to engage with Special Collections, volunteers must have a MocsMail or Gmail account.

On a case-by-case basis, volunteers contributing their time to Special Collections also meet one-on-one with their onsite supervisor every two weeks. Meetings are schedule via MocsMail/Google calendar and volunteers are expected to lead meetings by asking questions, bringing up concerns, and/or pulling material for consideration by their supervisor.


Volunteers are subject to the Student Assistant, Intern, and Volunteer Guidelines for Working in Special Collections and are responsible for making their own parking arrangements. Parking information may be found on our Hours, Location and Facilities