Hannah, Sainsbury Library

Hi, I’m Hannah, and I’m the Graduate Trainee at the Sainsbury Library, part of the Saïd Business School. With its distinctive green ziggurat tower, the Business School is an interesting contemporary addition to Oxford’s classic skyline. The library provides study space and resources to support the School’s various programmes, including the MBA, MSc in Finance & Economics, MSc in Law & Finance, BA in Economics & Management and Executive Education courses.

Autumn colours at Oxford Said Business School
Autumn colours at Oxford Said Business School

The start of my traineeship was relatively quiet, as the lower reading room was closed to readers whilst refurbishment took place. During the replacement of the carpets, venturing out of the office was like entering a maze, as furniture kept shifting to different positions and you never knew where it was safe to walk! As well as a new carpet, reading room now has a new layout, power cubes on all the group tables and some smart red dividers to screen off group work areas from individual study desks.

The portrait of Lord Sainsbury oversees the library refurbishment
The portrait of Lord Sainsbury oversees the library refurbishment

Since then, the library has reopened and welcomed in a new cohort of students. I have now started working on the helpdesk, which has become increasingly busy, but this means that I am learning a lot about how the library works and getting to put it into practice straight away. My Sainsbury Library colleagues have been incredibly supportive in answering all my questions and helping me to settle in! Alongside desk shifts, I’ve been involved in library induction events (also known as the iChallenge – read a report I co-wrote about this here), processing new books, assembling welcome packs for faculty members, creating new signage, carrying out book repairs and updating the online research repository. All this alongside a range of full- and half-day training sessions with the other trainees, I can’t believe how much has fitted into just eight weeks!

MBA students discover library resources through competing in the iChallenge

Before moving to Oxford to start the traineeship, I worked for several years as a teaching assistant in a busy primary school and nursery, following a combined honours degree in Social Sciences at Durham University. As a TA, I had the privilege of helping children take their very first steps on their journey as readers, learning the basic skills that, once acquired, we often take for granted, but which open the door to a vast wealth of information about the world. This also involved the daily administration and care of the reading scheme, which I got to know extremely well (some texts off by heart!), and selecting the right books to meet individuals’ needs. My final project before I left was a grand tidy-up and reclassification of the entire reading book collection – a daunting but somewhat satisfying assignment! I think it was these combined experiences of working with books and helping readers which led me to apply for the trainee scheme. Now I just have to get used to readers who are a little taller, books which are a little weightier, and shelfmarks that say HD59.2 OXF 2012 instead of Purple Ladybird or Blue Star…

One quality that four-year-old school beginners and university students seem to have in common (at least, on a good day…) is a readiness to learn new things through all the channels available to them. This year I will endeavour to imitate this myself, and absorb as much knowledge as I can as the year progresses. I’m excited to see where it will take me!

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