Volunteer Stories: Q&A with Chris Orme

Volunteer Stories: Q&A with Chris Orme

27 Apr 2023

Volunteer Stories is a new monthly series by The Arts Society, written to showcase and celebrate the work of our volunteers. 

Our volunteers offer their time and energy to help us preserve and celebrate arts and heritage. This month, Heritage Volunteer Chris Orme shares her experiences.

What volunteering projects are you involved with?

I am a member of Bromley House Library in Nottingham which is one of a few remaining subscription libraries in the country and houses around 50,000 books, many of which have been in the library since the 19th century. Looking after these books is something I’m involved in. I started as a volunteer undertaking book conservation activities at the library about 4 years ago. In February this year I agreed to co-lead a group as we get back up to speed post covid lockdowns.

What does being a volunteer mean to you?

Being a volunteer involved in book conservation has enabled me to learn a range of new skills and knowledge in a completely different environment to those experienced throughout my career. It's given me an opportunity to get involved in other library activities and in other book conservation volunteer opportunities in the local area through the Arts Society network. I’ve met many new people and above all, it's great to come together in a focussed way but also have some fun.

Image: Chris Orme volunteering at Bromley House Library in Nottingham.

What have you learnt? 

New skills and knowledge not just about book conservation but also by being with volunteer colleagues who have many diverse interests, it's surprising what you can learn, very handy for pub quizzes ! I’ve also learned that I can sit down and focus and not have to dash about going from one job to another. I’ve been recommended a number of books that I probably wouldn’t have picked up from the library shelves.

Image: Chris and one of the teams of volunteers at Bromley House Library in Nottingham.

What would you say to someone else who is considering volunteering?

Go for it ! After all, what have you got to lose? You meet new people, learn new skills, go places you might have wanted to go but never got the opportunity to or to “see behind the scenes”. Once you start volunteering, other projects come along which you can consider. I'll be starting some training at the end of April to join a group of volunteers assisting the book conservation effort at a local manor house.

How does volunteering help the arts and heritage sector?

I think through the wealth and breadth of the volunteers' life experiences. We all have so much to offer, volunteers are a huge resource to be tapped into.

Any stories?

I look forward to my book conservation days and meeting up with my fellow conservators but I suppose one day stands out in particular as its not every day you get to meet, a member of the Royal family, the Lord Major and Sheriff of Nottingham on the same day at the same event; the official opening of the Bromley House Library attic improvements by the HRH the Duke of Gloucester who chatted with each volunteer about our role and the book we were working on.



Find out more about volunteering with The Arts Society 

Interested in volunteering with The Arts Society? Your local Society may already have some volunteering initiatives underway. Speak to them about the opportunities on offer. To find your nearest Society please click here.

For other volunteering queries, and if you have an idea for a new volunteering initiative, please email volunteering@theartssociety.org or view our other volunteering activities.


Author: The Arts Society 

About the Author

The Arts Society


Become an instant expert!

Find out more about the arts by becoming a Supporter of The Arts Society.

For just £20 a year you will receive invitations to exclusive member events and courses,  special offers and concessions, our regular newsletter and our beautiful arts magazine, full of news, views, events and artist profiles.

Find out more