Volunteer Services

Volunteering at the Free Library of Philadelphia is a rewarding and fun experience. We have many opportunities at Parkway Central Library and all of our neighborhood library locations throughout the city, including the Library for the Blind and the Physically Handicapped. Our volunteers help us with special events; assist Philadelphia’s New Americans gain familiarity with a new language by acting as a English Language Facilitator; help departments maintain their collections; provide senior citizens with one-on-one with computer assistance; and help to shelve both new and returned material.

To join our team of Library-loving volunteers you should:

  • Be least 14 years of age.
  • Be available to volunteer at least 1–3 hours a week for at least 2–3 months. (Some evening, Saturday, and short-term opportunities are available — See below.)
  • Have the ability to work alone or with others (other volunteers, staff, or patrons).

To help make a difference at the Free Library, please print out a Volunteer Application and return it to:

Volunteer Services Program
1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

You can also email us the form at volunteer@freelibrary.org or bring it to your local neighborhood library.

Once you return the completed application, we will contact you and schedule an interview to discuss your interests and volunteer options.

Seasonal Volunteer Opportunities

If you are unable to commit to volunteering for our suggested 2–3 month window, a seasonal volunteer position might be right for you! Available positions change throughout the year and can be found in our current listings.

Special Volunteer Opportunities at Parkway Central Library

Parkway Central Library, the hub of the 54-location Free Library system, has a number of particular projects in need of volunteers.

  • Shelving Volunteers   
    With its vast collection of books, DVDs, and audiobooks, Parkway Central is in need of detail-oriented volunteers to assist in restocking new and returned material.
  • Senior Computer Tutor
    A tutor, with a strong knowledge of computers and technology, is needed to assist senior citizens in building their computer skills.  The tutor helps access information and answers questions in a one-on-one setting.
  • English Language Facilitator.
    Volunteers are needed to assist non-native speakers become more familiar with English in a small group setting.  After a English Conversation Group training, volunteers hold weekly classes in neighborhood libraries throughout the city. Commitment is 6-8 weekly class meetings.  
  • Collection Care Assistant
    Volunteers are needed to help various departments maintain material within their collections.  This might include cataloging, sorting and cleaning items in the collection.

Special Opportunities for Young Volunteers

Students in grades 7–12 can lend their helping hands to the Free Library, too! We have many opportunities for students in the following areas: Shelving, Clerical Aide and Teen Book Critic.

Masters of Library and Information Science Internships:

Interested Graduate students can enhance their educational program of study with a wide variety of opportunities that can be experienced volunteering in a large urban public library setting. For more information about unpaid internships with The Free Library, please contact The Office of Public Service Support at 215-686-5372 or via email at internships@freelibrary.org

Corporate / Group Volunteer Opportunities

  • Author Events Series Volunteers
    The Author Events Series offer Philadelphians a chance to get close to and personally hear some of the greatest literary lights of our time, including in recent years Nicholas Kristof, Cornel West, Anne Rice, Chip Kidd, Anne Lamott, and more. Lecture event volunteers greet and seat patrons prior to events, assist with microphones during Q & A sessions, and help with post-event author signings in the Main Lobby.
  • Book Readers for Audio Tape
    The Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Free Library of Philadelphia, is part of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress (NLS), a free library program of braille and audio materials circulated to eligible borrowers in the United States by postage free mail.
  • Tour Guide
    The Volunteer Services Program conducts a 20-hour training program designed to equip volunteer tour guides with the information and skills to lead tours of the historic Parkway Central Library. The subjects covered in the training will include past, present, and future aspects of the infrastructure and organization of the Free Library of Philadelphia; current services being offered; highlights from the departments and special collections; the art and architecture of the building. Upon completion of training tour guides are expected to commit to 2 tours a month for a period of 6 months.
  • Gadget Gurus
    Support the Free Library of Philadelphia’s commitment to digital literacy by volunteering as a Gadget Guru at the E-Gadget Helpdesk. The E-Gadget Helpdesk, located in the lobby of the Parkway Central Library, provides the public with individualized support on how to use e-readers and tablets or offer instruction on how to explore and download materials from the Free Library’s extensive digital collections, including e-books, audiobooks, music, and more.
  • Job Readiness Computer Tutor
    The Job Readiness Center provides one-on-one assistance from the qualified Center staff who aid customers in preparing for interviews, connecting with GED and ESL courses, and utilizing job search resources. Work in a computer lab with library customers (one-on-one and in small groups) in preparing resumes, establishing email accounts, and navigating the Internet to career postings.
  • Library and Community Beautification
    The Free Library of Philadelphia has 54 physical locations throughout the City. There are occasionally opportunities to complete landscaping and beautification projects at these locations, positively impacting library users and the entire community.

Group volunteers are welcome at the Free Library of Philadelphia. Please call the Volunteer Office at 215-686-5340 for additional information.

Special Opportunities at the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped

Located at 919 Walnut Street, the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped offers volunteers the opportunity to serve in the following capacities:

  • Quality Assurance
    Description: Inspecting condition of book cassettes.
  • Book Readers for Audio Tape
    Description: Record books for the visually impaired.

Volunteering in the City of Philadelphia

This user-friendly website is the perfect place for Philadelphians of all ages to find volunteer opportunities that match their skills and interests. It is also an ideal resource for non-profit organizations, community groups and block-captains who want to recruit volunteers throughout the year.

Disclaimer

Some volunteer positions require direct contact with children and will require clearances. Each volunteer is responsible for getting their child abuse clearances on their own. The Free Library of Philadelphia maintains the Two Person rule; no volunteer or employee is to be alone with a child unless both are clearly visible at all times.

Please view our Child Abuse Clearances Process and Requirements for further information.

Questions? Contact Volunteer Services at volunteer@freelibrary.org or 215-686-5340.