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.