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Behind-the-scenes volunteer experiences

Libai Li

I have been volunteering in the Anthropology collections at the Australian Museum since January 2013. I assist with inventories of the Pacific ethnographic collections and in research and documentation of the Asian collection.

In addition, I have been working as an intern and volunteer in the Registration Department of the Powerhouse Museum since September 2012. My work includes cataloguing a large number of numismatic collections donated to the Powerhouse by Bill Bush. I’m glad that my contribution to cataloguing and digitising allows these collections to be accessible to the general public via the Museum’s website.

I developed an interest in antiquities, artefacts and museums while in high school. I was influence by my father - an amateur collector and curious enthusiast of antiquities. I love visiting museums and read extensively about archaeology, museums and ancient civilisations. I really enjoy learning about artefacts, different cultures and different people.

I came to Australia early in 2010 having obtained a bachelor degree in Economics at Nankai University, China. With a passionate interest in cultures and museums, I then completed two masters degrees: Cross-Cultural Communication and Museum Studies at the University of Sydney.

David Lind

David Lind has volunteered in the Materials Conservation unit, one day a week, for over 2 years. He is working on a long term storage project for rare books and journals from the museum’s Research Library and Archives collections. Many of these items which date from the last century are in a fragile, damaged condition.

David makes precise individual custom fitted storage boxes from conservation grade archival cardboard. Thanks to his effort, skill and patience the longevity of these significant and historic items has been greatly increased.

Online volunteering

The Australian Museum began exploring online volunteering - where volunteers do all their volunteer activity on the internet in 2008. It meant that volunteers can assist us without having to physically come into the museum, they can do it all from the comfort of their own home. All that is required is a computer with internet access.

The museum's first online volunteering project involved checking animal factsheet URL links to see if they were still working.

A spreadsheet listing the common names of animal species in the factsheets, the associated old URLs and a field for new URL’s was put up in Google Documents. Existing volunteers who have been involved in collection digitising trials were then asked if they were interested in being involved. Those that responded were then given access to the Google document with instructions on how to validate and replace the old URL’s with new correct URL’s.

The results were amazing. There were approximately 1700 records requiring checking and fixing. All of these records were fixed within a week by a small dedicated group of online volunteers. Thanks to the following wonderful online volunteers :

  • Cath Curran
  • Dave Mackinnon
  • Nicky Barry
  • Robyn Gardner
  • Jan Perkin
  • Pam Forbes
  • John Gollan
  • John Tann

This type of volunteering won’t replace onsite volunteering, and we will still offer plenty of opportunities for volunteers to come into the museum. This is just another way in which we hope volunteers may be willing to help us.

Get involved in DigiVol online