It’s important to have a very clear plan for how the day will unfold. Set a start time that enables volunteers to arrive and have a short amount of time for socializing prior to the start of the workshop (this will also account for the inevitable latecomers … they are volunteers after all!). Post a schedule for the day on the door so volunteers know when to expect lunch breaks, shift switches, and end time.
If possible, it is helpful to have the trainers arrive an hour or so earlier than the rest of your volunteers so you can give them a bit of an overview of your plans for processing the collection. It gives them a chance to ask questions and have a clear overall sense of your goals and your specific workflow plans, and also learn about the nature of the collection.
A quick word about shift switches — in workshops in the past, two shifts of volunteers were coordinated, one before lunch, one after. It is advisable to keep your volunteer trainers all day to maintain a level of consistency in processing. Local volunteers may choose to come in shifts, though in past experience they seem to get more from the workshop when they are on-site for the entire day.
Once all the volunteers are on-site, have a formal welcome where you introduce everyone, match people at stations, show them around the building (or at the very least the restroom locations) and verbally present an overview of the day. Once the work begins, a few of the planning team should function as floaters, answering questions and jumping in where extra help is needed. In addition, other members of the planning team should be positioned at each station as “managers,” at least for the beginning of the session to be sure things are running as you planned. This is particularly important if you didn’t have time for pre-training with your trainers.
If you’re ordering lunch for delivery, one of the institution’s staff should coordinate this to arrive at your set lunch break. Keep all food and drinks away from the collections. If necessary, set up an alternate break area in the hallway or an existing break room.
Solicit feedback from your volunteers as you go, and take a lot of photographs and video to document the proceedings of the workday. This will all come in handy when you report back to your sponsors, donors, and volunteers on how well the day went.
As a celebration at the end of the workday, plan to screen something from the host collection. It doesn’t necessarily need to be something from the collection you’ve worked on — though that would be nice — but anything representative of the type of media. A 16mm film screening if you’ve been working with 16mm all day, for instance, would be excellent.