The Value of the Oxford Library Graduate Trainee Scheme – Margaret Watson

The Value of the Oxford Library Graduate Trainee Scheme:  Margaret Watson’s keynote address at the Trainee Showcase, Headley Lecture Theatre, Ashmolean Museum, 15 July 2016

I was very glad to be invited to speak to this subject on this occasion, because I’ve experienced the Graduate Trainee programme both as a trainee and as a supervisor, and also as a librarian who has seen what our trainees have gone on to contribute to the profession, to academia and to wider society.

I started out as a Graduate Trainee in Oxford in 1981.  So far as I can remember, there were trainees that year at Christ Church, the English Faculty Library, the Bodleian (two of them), St Hilda’s and – my own post – at St Anne’s.  Pretty much all of us planned to go to University College, London (UCL), which was the ‘go-to’ course for the humanities in those days.   I was phenomenally lucky to be at St Anne’s: at the time, it was one of the better paid posts (there seemed to be a negative correlation between the wealth of the institution and the trainee’s salary), and there were free lunches and even free cakes for tea.  However the best thing about it was that I worked with two professional librarians, in a library that had been organized by a professional librarian.  That organizing librarian had been Lady Richmond, whom I remembered from when I was a little girl growing up in North Oxford as a very tiny old lady, and indeed the catalogue drawers were at a very low-level.  It wasn’t until 15 years later, after I joined the Bodleian, that I really understood what Lady Richmond had done for St Anne’s, when Sue Miles the Bodleian’s Head of English and Foreign Cataloguing told me that Lady Richmond had worked in public libraries and took the view that the same principles that lay behind the efficient running of a public library could equally usefully be applied to a college library.

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Summaries of Showcase Talks

If anyone’s wondering about the sort of work the trainees get up to during their year in Oxford, below are the summaries of the talks we gave at the Showcase. Slides from the presentations can be found on Slideshare. Due to technical issues, Clare Hunter’s presentation has been uploaded as a separate file.

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Graduate Trainee Showcase – Lee Colwill

This year’s Graduate Trainee Showcase was held at the Ashmolean’s Headley Lecture Theatre. In previous years, it’s been held in the training rooms at Osney, but the Ashmolean benefitted from being a space specifically designed for conferences, as well as being in a central location, which probably upped the attendance.

CC BY Image courtesy of Newton2 on Wikipedia.
CC BY Image courtesy of Newton2 on Wikipedia.

Full disclosure, I was one of this year’s organisers, and I’m trying very hard to steer away from being too self-congratulatory, but as far as I’m aware, everything went pretty well on the day, and everyone seemed happy (although that may have been down to the Ashmolean’s excellent catering). We won’t talk about the 15 minutes of pure panic where it looked like the presentation remote I’d brought wasn’t going to connect to the computer. Or the bit where trying to change between presentations caused the entire computer to freeze up for five minutes.

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