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NLM History of Medicine Volunteer Program

The National Library of Medicine’s History of Medicine Division welcomes applications for its volunteer program, from:

  • undergraduate students in any discipline
  • current graduate students in library science or information studies, archival studies, cultural studies, film studies, history of medicine and science, museum studies, preservation, public heath, or related programs
  • other qualified individuals of any age and background who would wish to offer their experiences and skills

The HMD volunteer program offers practical, hands-on and results-oriented experience in the largest medical library in the world with one of the finest history of medicine collections. Individuals who participate in this program can expect an invaluable introduction to a unique part of the US Department of Health and Human Services, which in 2016 was rated in the top-5 of the largest federal agencies in The Best Places to Work in the Federal Government.

Under the direct supervision of permanent library staff, selected volunteers will undertake projects, or a combination of projects based on their interests, skills, and the needs of the History of Medicine Division.

The History of Medicine Division offers volunteer opportunities in the following administrative and programmatic areas:

  • Archival Arrangement and Description
  • Cataloging and Bibliography
  • Collection Development and Management
  • Data Mining and Visualization
  • Digitization Research and Management
  • Exhibitions, Public Programs, and Outreach
  • Historical Research and Writing
  • Web Development, Social Media, and Publicity


Volunteer services may be accepted from individuals who are:

  • Donating their services as members of volunteer or charitable organizations
  • Offering their services on their own time
  • Receiving fellowship or stipend support from outside organizations with whom they have non-employment relationships
  • Employees of outside organizations on sabbaticals or leaves of absences
  • Federal employee volunteering services unrelated to their official duties and responsibilities, outside of their normal work hours

Unfortunately, due to regulations, volunteer services may not be accepted from individuals who are:

  • Commissioned Officers in the U.S. Public Health Service or members of other uniformed services
  • Paid employees of outside organizations who are not on sabbaticals or leaves of absence, unless their volunteer service is on their own time


  • All volunteers must carry their own health insurance and submit proof of coverage.
  • Permanent residents must be cleared by the Division of International Services (DIS), Office of Research Services (ORS), NIH.
  • Special requirements for Non-immigrant Foreign Nationals: Must have appropriate visas that support activities at NIH and must have, at a minimum, a master’s degree or equivalent.
  • We encourage applicants of all ages, however, applicants must be at least 16 years old. Applicants under 18 years of age must meet Federal government employment standards for minors or provide a State issued work permit. The agreement of a parent or guardian is also required before the volunteer services of minors can be accepted.

Compensation: Unpaid

Learning credit: Students who are interested in obtaining course credit for volunteering should arrange accordingly with their academic advisors.

Time commitment: Depending on needs of the HMD programmatic area, commensurate with candidate availability, and always within normal business hours.

NLM/HMD is an Official Certifying Organization for the President's Volunteer Service Awards, an initiative of the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Interested individuals should send the following materials via email to the Office of the Chief, NLM History of Medicine Division:

  • a cover letter detailing:
    • interests, skills, and expertise and the NLM/HMD programmatic area(s) of specific interest, including how the individual’s background would benefit the programmatic area(s) of specific interest
    • availability of the volunteer, including how many hours per week could be offered, and for what duration (eg. 3 months, 6 months, etc.)
  • current resume
  • contact details of three professional references

The NLM highly encourages applicants from diverse backgrounds to apply.

Please note that NLM/HMD volunteer opportunities do not result in employment with the NLM.