Volunteers will tell you that their work is all about love and passion. Some say that volunteers are the "glue that hold society together" and their contribution to the community is priceless. Museums volunteers participate in the preservation of our history and heritage, and ensure that all Canadians, both today and in the future, have access to our stories.
Volunteers are involved in all aspects of museum life including research, restoration and conservation. They help to implement curriculum-based school programs, they entertain children in activity centres, classify specimens, establish electronic data bases, help out at special events, move trains, work on farms, digitize pictures, act as tour guides and answer hundreds of questions. For many volunteers, the benefit of all this is to be able to work as a team member alongside museum professionals, researchers and scientists, and to keep abreast of the latest developments in a variety of fields.
Therefore, it is not surprising that the number of volunteers working in Canadian museums, approximately 55,000 in total, has tripled over the last ten years. In fact, one in three Canadian adults is a volunteer and the most significant increase in volunteerism can be found in youths ages 15-24. Volunteering in a museum is an excellent way for these young people to acquire relevant work experience.
The role of volunteers in museums and the impact that they have on the daily operations of museums cannot be overestimated. They are the ones who are in touch with the community, they are the "living link" between the museums and those who visit them. By participating in the growth of the museums, volunteers are also contributing to developing and improving the quality of life in their communities.