A Day in the Life at Christ Church Library

7:45 Arrive in Style

My day starts with a cycle into work and a quick change into library-suitable attire. Turtlenecks feature heavily.

A photograph of the back wall of Tom quadrangle, featuring the cathedral spire. The sky is dusky with soft pinks and blues.
Christ Church’s Tom Quad in the early morning


8:00 Doors open

While the library is still pretty quiet I’ll see to turning on lights, printers and our self-checkout kiosk, straightening everything out and tidying away any books left out from the night before.

The library is open until 1am so I’ll also check the evening staff’s notebook to see if there’s anything they recorded that needs following up!


8: 15 Master of Tree Management

Over the festive period we have had a Christmas tree in the entrance hall of the library – it’s both an honour and a privilege to keep it fed and watered (well, mostly just watered). This task is one of my favourites. I do end up wearing quite a lot of pine needles, but I have simply made sure to plan outfits that go well with green accessories.


9:00 Enquiry desk

A staple of the job! This involves monitoring the library email for any updates for Aleph, our catalouging and circulation programme, overdue reminders, or people getting in touch about consulting books from our special collections. Must avoid spending too long looking at emails from Sotheby’s. That way madness lies, along with fantasising about a life in which I frequently buy rare vases at auction and cultivate my collection of modern art.

The desk is also a site for processing books and helping readers with any questions they might have. I secretly thrill at opportunities to find books for readers or, even better, use the ladders in our reading rooms when readers don’t fancy risking the climb. Talk about high-octane…


Picture taken from inside of a window. Looks out onto a stone tower. The sky is grey.
A slightly dreary sky behind a lovely view – the window of our tearoom



11:00 Tea!

A corner stone of both life and the working day. I am blessed with some charming colleagues so tea often comes with both biscuits and a chat.

On sunnier days this room can be something of a suntrap! Such glorious weather feels a bit far away at the moment though…

I have noted a direct correlation between my degree of reclination on the tea-room sofa and time worked here. Some could argue I am getting a bit too comfortable.







11:15 Reclassification

One of the projects I’m working on here at Christ Church is a reclassification system overhaul. This consists of updating the shelf marks on our books from an in house roman numeral system to the more widely used Library of Congress system. A shelf mark is the notation on a book which tells you where it belongs – like library coordinates!


Right now, books will go back on the shelf where they came from when I’ve updated the shelf mark in the book and on our cataloguing system. I’m looking forward to the point when everything comes off the shelf for a reorganisation of biblical proportions.

I’m currently working on the linguistics part of our collection and finding some intriguing titles on my travels.



13:00 Lunch

Words cannot express the beauty of the lunches at the staff canteen here. Bliss.

Sometimes followed by brisk stroll around Christ Church meadow in order to keep feast-induced sleepiness at bay.


14:00 Orangery

Afternoons when I’m not on the desk can take many forms, but one project I’m chipping away at is a reshelving job in one of our storage spaces, called the Orangery. Now filled with books instead of oranges trees, it makes for a satisfying mission of putting the world to rights one book at a time where things have been mis-shelved in the past. Once again, I encounter many a delightful tome and have been enjoying collecting eccentric titles and beautiful cover foilings in my camera roll.



16:00 Home

Finishing just before sunset in the winter is a blessing to be sure – from here I will slink off to enjoy the delights of Oxford at dusk which are many and varied, much like the delights of the Christ Church library!

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