Our approach

We have a wealth of experience working with volunteers and have enlisted help on a wide range of tasks over the years, from cataloguing to conservation.

More recently we’ve expanded our volunteer projects online, engaging ‘virtual volunteers’ to help us improve catalogue descriptions by contributing their knowledge and expertise of our records. We’ve also recruited volunteers to support some of our public service and engagement deliveries, such as our Library, Keepers’ Gallery and Archives at Night events.

Evolving in a digital world

In 2022-23 we delivered over 350 million records to our online users, and almost 475,000 original records to our reading rooms at Kew. Combining traditional volunteering activities with more virtual collaboration is at the heart of our new approach to engaging with volunteers.

We aim to:

  • build and strengthen our relationships with communities and partnerships, while also reaching out to collaborate with a variety of audiences
  • extend our services and develop new approaches for providing access to our services and information
  • use collaborative digital channels, increasing the opportunities for users to interact with us
  • contribute to future research by creating data that can be freely re-used under the terms of the Open Government Licence

Our commitment to provide an increasing number of our services in a digital format reflects the government’s commitment to make digital delivery the default for public service provision. We need to face the challenges, and ensure that we provide opportunities for those who have little or no experience of using digital resources, as well as those who do.

Strategic engagement

We want to understand, appreciate and engage with participants to shape, enrich and deliver our public services. In doing this we aim to develop best practice approaches that can be shared across the archives sector.

We aim to ensure that our strategy is driven as much by the needs of participants as it is by the organisation itself.

Read more about our approach in our strategy document below.

Volunteering at The National Archives (PDF, 0.51Mb)