About the Graduate Trainee Programme

On this page, you can find out information about the Library Traineeship here at Oxford University, including what it is, what we do, and how to apply.

What is the Graduate Library Trainee Programme?

The trainee programme here at Oxford is specifically designed to provide professional library experience for graduates who are considering doing a Master’s degree in librarianship. Placements last for one year, running from September to August. The programme allows its trainees to get hands-on experience in an academic library whilst also receiving formal training which meets the standards of the SCONUL (Society of College, National, and University Libraries) code of practice. It is the largest library training scheme in the UK.

Each year there are around a dozen placements available (though exact figures and placements vary year-to-year) spread between the Bodleian Libraries and various colleges. For the 2021-22 academic year, the placements are:

  • All Souls College

    Radcliffe Camera, part of the Bodleian Libraries. Credit: Jonathan, Flickr
  • Bodleian Library
  • English Faculty Library
  • History Faculty Library
  • Law Library (x2)
  • New College
  • Pembroke College
  • Sackler Library
  • Social Science Library
  • St Edmund Hall
  • St John’s College
  • Taylor Institution Library


What would I be doing on the Graduate Library Trainee Programme?

Trainees exploring the Bodleian’s off-site book storage facility.

Day-to-day duties vary depending on which library you are placed in, but generally speaking trainees will gain experience in frontline reader services and circulation (issuing, returning, and shelving). You may also be involved with book processing, cataloguing, reading lists, social media, or tours.

A unique feature of the Oxford programme is a series of training sessions specifically created for this traineeship. They usually run on Wednesday afternoons during term time, though there is some variation. These sessions are designed to offer an insight into the different aspects of librarianship, covering everything from conservation and special collections to the nitty-gritty aspects of cataloguing and software to trips to the off-site storage facility (holding 9 million books and counting!). These are incredibly useful for considering potential future career paths and learning which aspects of librarianship appeal most to your skills and interests.

Furthermore, trainees are encouraged to pursue independent projects. The project is researched and documented by the individual in any way they see fit, and then presented in a showcase at the end of the traineeship. The project can focus on any aspect of librarianship that is of interest to you. Previous trainees have focused on topics such as managing reclassifications, improving social media outreach, creating tours, librarianship through the COVID-19 pandemic, and in-depth research into specific special collection items. You can view the latest trainee projects here.


How do I apply for the Graduate Library Trainee Programme?

Pembroke College

Applications for the trainee programme are open from December 2021 to January 2022 with shortlisting in February and interviews in March (though there is some variation among colleges).

Applicants must have an undergraduate degree, though previous trainees have been educated to a doctorate level (but this is by no means a requirement!). The post is not suitable for anyone who already holds a degree in librarianship or who has substantial experience (several years) of working in libraries.

Listings for posts within the Bodleian Libraries are now live and can be found here. You can find out more information about these posts year-round on the Bodleian Libraries Graduate Trainee Page. College posts are advertised on individual college websites. Both can be found listed on the CILIP website.