Volunteer handbook



Welcome to the National Jazz Archive.

The National Jazz Archive holds the UK’s finest collection of written, printed and visual material on jazz, blues and related music, from the 1920s to the present day.

Founded in 1988 by trumpeter Digby Fairweather, the Archive’s vision is to ensure that the rich tangible cultural heritage of jazz is safeguarded for future generations of enthusiasts, professionals and researchers.

The archive provides news, resources and stories in a range of material; from reference books, specialist periodicals and journals; to posters, photography and artworks, to memorabilia and personal papers.

As well as facilitating use of our collections, as an organisation of dedicated staff, trustees and volunteers, we also offer a lot more. We hold performance events, exhibitions, talks and workshops, participation in local and national Jazz festival programmes, and deliver on ambitious project work.

Archive development

The National Jazz Archive and its Trustees are committed to developing its services and holdings through ongoing and fixed term project work, with the aim of offering more to its existing and potential audiences.

Securing Heritage Lottery funding for the three year Story of British Jazz Project in 2012, the National Jazz Archive achieved a significant amount; cataloguing and digitising material to increase access to collections, onsite and online.

In 2015, the Archive was awarded an Our Heritage grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an 18-month oral history project, the Intergenerational Jazz Reminiscence Project. Building on the successes of the previous HLF project, its aim was to explore how different generations have promoted, performed, supported, and documented our jazz heritage with interviews and reminiscences being recorded and made available through our website and an end of project Say it with Music exhibition. The creation of oral history and video records from interviews and workshops has diversified our collection material.


  • We welcome and facilitate volunteers who give their time freely, to participate in a the Archive and their personal fulfillment.
  • The archive endeavors to provide a volunteer programme of mutual benefit suitable for diverse needs and interests and compliant to equal opportunities policy.

Volunteer recruitment

We are committed to providing fair and equal access to volunteering opportunities, widely advertising our roles at: Epping Volunteer Bureau, Loughton Youth Group, the National Jazz Archive website News section, Jiscmail, and other organisations relevant to project work.

General information

The archive, a registered charity supported by Essex County Council, is based in Loughton Library. The Library also hosts other local organisations and so a culture of courtesy and consideration is encouraged.

Vital information

We must be provided with your up to date contact details, as well as an emergency contact for you.

Your personal information will be kept securely, in line with Data Protection law.

Change of circumstance

If you wish to cease volunteering, or make changes to your schedule, please update your National Jazz Archive point-of-contact, so they are aware of the alterations.

Personal preparation

Although the archive does not adopt a formal dress code, we do ask volunteers to be responsible in what they wear or bring to the archive so as to safeguard our collections and not obstruct access.


Health and Safety

Your induction will include a Health & Safety briefing. You will also be given advice relative to specific activity.


All volunteers are required to sign in and out of the building for the awareness of staff responsible for fire safety.

Staff door entry codes must be used discreetly out of public view.

The Reading Room must not be left unlocked at any time while un-managed for the security of personal and archival items.

Keys or Archive material must not be removed from the Reading Room without permission.

Your role

Signing of a Volunteer Agreement

We will require you to read and sign a Volunteer Agreement which is not legally binding, but is for the purpose of seeking your acknowledgement and agreement to comply with our Policies and procedure.

Discipline policy

Breaching National Jazz Archive Policies to the significant detriment of the Archive, client or custom could result in the termination of your volunteer assignment.


Volunteers will be reimbursed reasonable travel expenses if required to be agreed in advance, on provision of original receipts.



The National Jazz Archive recognises the unique contribution volunteers make, as they offer their time and efforts for free.

We therefore aim to be flexible on time commitments, activities you do and do not wish to participate in and to accommodate individual needs as far as possible.


Volunteers will be consulted with at induction on specific opportunities available as well as a work plan, which fulfills their wishes.


We will provide training on all systems, tasks and procedure and may additionally provide specialist-training opportunities for volunteers to benefit from.

Personal development

Individual needs and aims will be supported and accommodated as far as possible, in activity plans, guidance and feedback.


References can be provided on request to cover volunteer’s time and contribution to the National Jazz Archive.


The National Jazz Archive greatly appreciates all volunteer contributions.

NJA Logo


Volunteers are an important asset to the National Jazz Archive, having greatly contributed to its development throughout its life.

Activities the volunteers have been involved in include

  • Cataloguing and indexing
  • Collections care and preservation
  • Special subject research
  • Specialist oral history training
  • Exhibition preparation
  • Events and workshop support
  • Transcribing recorded interviews

Some key benefits our volunteers gain include

  • The chance to try a range of tasks
  • Discovery of new areas of interest
  • Development of skills
  • Career progression to higher education
  • Active participation in Jazz culture and
  • Social and community participation
  • Simple generosity of donating their time

Opening Times

Monday10am - 1pm
Tuesday10am - 1pm
Wednesday10am - 1pm & 2pm - 4.30pm
Friday10am - 1pm

Visitor Arrangements

Following the relaxation of Covid rules on 19 July 2021 the National Jazz Archive continues to welcome visitors to the archive in person. However,

a) All visitors are asked to take sensible Covid precautions including observing social distancing guidelines and regular sanitising;

b) The archive reserves the right to limit the number of visitors to the archive room at any one time to mitigate the risk of Covid spread. Anyone planning to visit is therefore asked to let us know in advance so that the risk of overcrowding can be avoided.

Safety will continue to be our priority and any access restrictions will be kept under regular review. Further updates will be provided on our news page should the situation change.


Loughton Library, which houses the National Jazz Archive, is accessible by wheelchair through an automated double-width door. It also has an induction loop system to assist those with a hearing impairment. The lift is located to the left as you enter the building, providing access to the first floor.

The adjacent public car-park has designated disabled parking bays.  Please note that there are no wheelchair accessible toilets available within the library. 

More information about access can be found online.

How to Find Us

The National Jazz Archive is located on the 1st floor of Loughton Library, which is located approximately two miles beyond the north-eastern edge of London.

By Car

The nearest motorway access is at junction 5 (exit northbound only) of the M11, and junction 26 of the M25. If you’re using a satellite navigation device, please enter our postcode – IG10 1HD – and look out for the turning into the library grounds off Traps Hill. There is a public pay-and-display car park available next to the library.

By Tube

Loughton station on the London Underground is approximately a 15 minute walk away, with frequent trains to/from the centre of London. Alternatively, bus routes 20, 167 and 397 stop at Traps Hill and serve London and other parts of Essex, and Hertfordshire.

For assistance in planning your journey, please try the TFL Journey Planner (if you’re travelling from London) or Traveline.

Whilst you're here

Have a look at some of our collections, by seeing what we have to view online, or find out how you can help support the Archive as a volunteer or donor.



You will be made aware of staff toilets, kitchen facilities and of security codes to access them on your induction.

Eating and drinking

Consuming food and drink is not permitted in the strong room, upper stack and while working with or nearby archival materials.

There are kitchen facilities available for you to use, and you will be shown where is suitable to eat your lunch on the premises. There are many local cafés to purchase lunch from also.

DBS checks

Volunteers partaking in activity working with young or vulnerable people, unsupervised or minimally supervised, may be required to undertake a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) clearance check and supply relevant documents.


While working at the National Jazz Archive volunteers are covered by relevant insurance.


All volunteers are required to adhere to the following policies briefed at induction:

  • Health and safety
  • Social Media and Confidentiality


Read more about the National Jazz Archive.