Guideline UL-HRG08 Volunteer Staff

Main Policy Content


  • Purpose
  • Definition of a Volunteer
  • Information for Departments Accepting Volunteers
  • Procedures for Departments Accepting Volunteers
  • Attachments
  • Cross References


To state the Libraries' position on volunteer staff providing services in the Libraries in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act.


A "volunteer" is an individual who voluntarily participates in programs or projects that supplement or complement the work of our paid staff and faculty without promise, expectation, or receipt of compensation or future employment.


  1. Volunteers are not to be used in the following circumstances:
    1. to perform work that is being performed by or would normally be performed by a paid employee
    2. to perform budgetary responsibilities
    3. to perform functions normally assigned to bargaining unit employees
    4. to meet student’s degree requirements or to gain experience for his/her field of study, as this would normally be an Internship. Exceptions may be approved by LHR on a case-by-case basis.
  2. Volunteers can be used in the following circumstances:
    1. on a short-term basis to assist with unique projects
    2. on a long-term basis to assist with on-going projects for which a full-time or part-time position would not normally be funded to complete. The hours worked in these situations should not exceed 8 hours/week.
  3. Volunteers must be authorized to work in the United States.
  4. Volunteers must have the appropriate skills and qualifications to do the work that they will be assigned.
  5. Current Penn State employees cannot volunteer to perform duties similar to their paid work.
  6. Individuals must be 18 years of age or older to volunteer.
  7. It is the decision of a Libraries' department to accept volunteers. No department should feel obligated to accept them.
  8. Volunteers are covered by University liability insurance if it is determined that they have been injured in the course of their work due to University negligence.
  9. Volunteers are not eligible for University parking privileges, HRDC professional development programs, or to drive a University vehicle. Volunteers are not to be given keys or card access to the Libraries' facilities, but instead should work only during the hours when their units are open and staffed.
  10. Volunteers seeking regular employment should follow the Libraries' and University's established process for hiring. They are not to be given preferential treatment in hiring.
  11. A volunteer or the Libraries may end the volunteer relationship, at any time, with or without advance notice.


  1. Complete Volunteer Request Form, obtain required signatures, and send to Libraries Human Resources. LHR will contact the supervisor regarding final approval of the volunteer service.
  2. Upon notification of approval, the following must be completed before the individual may begin to volunteer:
    • I-9 form in Libraries Human Resources
    • Volunteer Agreement that clarifies work unit, assignment, anticipated hours of service, and the expected length of time of the volunteer service. This should be completed in conjunction with the supervisor.
  3. The department is responsible for: 
    • Regularly monitoring volunteer’s work performance
    • Tracking of hours worked
    • Informing volunteers about breaks, lunch, etc.
    • Informing volunteer about relevant policies and procedures, including security
    • Completing DLT form for Libraries' network access (only if the volunteer is required to use these resources)


Information for Volunteers (pdf document)


Form:  Volunteer Request Form (pdf document)
Form:  Volunteer Agreement (pdf document)

Effective Date: December 7, 2009
Date Approved: December 7, 2009 (Dean's Library Council)

Revision History (and effective dates):

  • December 7, 2009 -- Revised guideline to clarify definitions and procedures; revised Volunteer Agreement and new Volunteer Request Form
  • April 13, 2004 -- New guideline

Last Review Date:  December 2009