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.
Oxford is a great place for libraries with over 100 libraries in the city connected to the university! Each year there is around a dozen placements available (though exact figures and placements vary year-to-year) spread between the Bodleian Libraries and various colleges. For the 2023-24 academic year, the placements are:
- All Souls College
- Bodleian Library
- Sainsbury Library
- St John’s College
- English Faculty Library
- History Faculty Library
- Law Library (x2)
- New College
- Oxford Union Society Library
- Bodleian Art, Archaeology and Ancient World Library
- Social Science Library
- Taylor Institution Library
- Wolfson College
What would I be doing on the Graduate Library Trainee Programme?
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?
There are two different types of trainees on the Bodleian training scheme: Bodleian Libraries trainees and College Library trainees.
Applications for the Bodleian trainee programme are usually open from November to January with shortlisting in February and interviews in March. There is variation among colleges, with some colleges accepting applications much later. The College Library trainees have made a post about how the college traineeships work here on the blog.
Applicants must have an undergraduate degree, though previous trainees have been educated to a doctorate level (but this is by no means a requirement!). Some experience in libraries is recommended, though there is flexibility here. 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.
Posts within the Bodleian Libraries are advertised on the Oxford University website. College posts are usually advertised on individual college websites. Both can be found listed on the CILIP website.
You can find out more information about these posts year-round on the Bodleian Libraries Graduate Trainee Page.