Volunteering with Special Collections

Our Special Collections are world-leading in their significance and diversity, offering limitless potential across a broad spectrum of disciplines.

Volunteers working in Rylands

Exploring world-leading collections

The Special Collections include several hundred languages and span five thousand years, from cuneiform tablets to email archives, from Gutenberg to Ginsberg. They contain some of the most significant printed books and manuscripts ever produced, alongside unique archive collections, maps, and visual material, documenting a wealth of traditions from around the world.

Volunteer opportunities

The University of Manchester Special Collections runs a small volunteering programme aimed at enhancing these collections, the work and services of Special Collections, and encouraging links between Special Collections, University of Manchester students, the local and wider community, visitors, and readers.

Diverse projects

We recognise that volunteers enable us to extend the work and projects that can be done at Special Collections, and that they bring fresh enthusiasm and a new approach grown from a diversity of experience and knowledge. In return volunteers are given the opportunity to acquire important skills, learn to interact with and handle rare and unique items, and gain valuable experience which can improve their employability in the sector.

Our volunteering programme accepts up to ten people for time-limited projects (usually three to six months). Projects vary in nature and can be collection-related, or part of the other work done by Special Collections staff (conservation, public engagement, teaching and learning, etc.). Although no specific skills are required to become a volunteer, certain projects will warrant a level of background knowledge or skill. We endeavour to match volunteers with projects which suit their skill set, while encouraging growth and development.

Our locations

The University of Manchester Special Collections are held across three sites:

  1. John Rylands Library Research Institute and Library
  2. Special Collections at the University Main Library
  3. Ahmed Iqbal Ullah RACE Centre

Volunteering projects are run across all three sites.

You must be 18 or older to be eligible to become a volunteer with the University of Manchester Special Collections.

Contact us

Please register your interest using the online form below:

You can also email us with any questions at