Commuting into Oxford: A Whistle-stop Tour

My fellow trainees have done an excellent job of offering advice for living in Oxford, but there are a small number of trainees most years who take the opportunity of commuting into the city, rather than moving. There are lots of reasons to do this – prior commitments, domestic responsibilities, and most often saving money (Oxford rent is known for being steep). Regardless of your reasons, here’s a crib-sheet of ways to get in and out of the city on a daily basis, followed by a few tips for surviving a long commute.

Oxford Commutes


There are lots of bus routes in and out of the city, and keeping track of them can be a little complicated when they come from different providers. Most of the major towns surrounding Oxford are well connected into the city via frequent buses, and lots of the villages have routes that serve them too (though this can be more infrequent, depending on location). Abingdon in the South, for example, is served by the X1 Connector, X2 Connector, X3 City, and 35 City, among others. In the other direction, Kidlington in the North has the 2, 2A, 7 gold, and s4 gold.

If you’re going to be looking at getting the bus every day, it’s worth investing in a bus pass. Prices will vary depending on the route you travel and the provider, but in most cases an annual bus pass (for a year-long position like the traineeship) will save you a lot of money if you can afford to pay the lump sum in advance. It’s also worth noting that Oxford University offers a 10% discount on bus passes for the Oxford Bus Company, Thames Travel, and Stagecoach (depending on your route and the duration of your bus pass). This university also offers an interest free-loan to help you afford the advance lump sum of an annual bus pass (even for those whose routes or travel providers are not covered by the bus pass scheme). The university pays up front, and the cost is deducted monthly from your salary.


The University makes some accommodations for those who wish to drive into work. Blue Badge holders are entitled to parking permits allowing them to use disabled parking spaces close to their workplace, and there are some electric car charging points available on the Old Road Campus. Beyond this, staff can apply for a parking permit for spaces within the university. Prices vary by zones and usage, but for full-time staff who regularly park on central sites, the cost amounts to “1.75% of salary per annum for fixed days (pro-rata) + £4.80 per day for uncovered days”. It’s worth noting that there is no guarantee that an application will be approved, and I’ve been told that this process can take a while. It’s also worth noting that colleges will have their own rules about on-site parking.

For those who need to travel by car but can’t get a parking permit (or who don’t want the fuss of figuring it out, or driving in city centre traffic), I’d recommend looking into Oxford Park and Ride. This is a simple service where you can park your car in a car park on the outskirts of the city, and then catch a frequent bus into the city centre. Park and Ride car parks for the city centre are available to the North (Pear Tree), South (Redbridge), East (Thornhill), and West (Seacourt). An annual parking permit will cost £300, and will allow you to park in any of the P&R car parks as much as you want. Bus passes are purchased separately, and are available through the buss pass scheme outlined above (£377 a year).

I’m going to throw in another (slightly out there!) option for drivers. If you need a car to get to the outskirts of the city, but don’t want to fork out the extra £377 for a bus pass (or if you fancy the extra exercise!) – have you considered parking and biking? The P&R Car Parks are all within reasonable cycling distance of the city centre and most contain bike racks and/or shelters. Also, the university offers a number of incentives for cyclists; including a loan scheme to buy a bicycle and associated equipment, and a bicycle repair scheme to keep your bike in good working order. This scheme is available to all cyclists, regardless of where they’re biking from.


For those slightly further afield, trains may be a preferable method for getting in to work. You can easily catch trains to Oxford from places like Banbury, Didcot, or Reading with providers such as Great Western Railway and CrossCountry. Much like the buss pass scheme, the university also offers a train pass scheme. To quote, this offers “a 5% discount for stations between Reading and Oxford (except for journeys starting at Reading and Didcot stations where an 8% discount is available) and a 5% discount for stations between Banbury and Oxford.” For staff members who don’t meet the criteria outlined above, there is still the interest-free loan available for trains as well as buses.

Oxford train station is within walking distance of most university and college libraries. If your route ends up taking you to Oxford Parkway instead, there are connecting buses that can take you into the city centre.

How to Survive Commuting

Despite the money that gets saved, it’s no secret that commuting can be tiresome, or that it can feel like a big chunk of your day is spent in a transport limbo. Here’s a few tips from current commuting trainees on how to get the best out of your daily travel.

  • Make the commute your time, not work time: Obviously, this is time that you use to get to work, but there are ways that you can make this time your own. If you’re sitting on a bus or a train, use the time to read a book, sketch, play a video game, or whatever activity brings you a little bit of joy. It’s very easy to fill this time with doom-scrolling the news – try to keep it a little more pleasurable for yourself. Even if you’re driving a car, listening to music, podcasts, or audiobooks can help you look forward to that time. I’d especially recommend singing along loudly and terribly to whatever music you’re currently obsessed with.
  • For the drivers: Get to sleep in good time: For obvious reasons, you don’t want to be overtired while you’re driving (especially if you have to get up early). Get your sleep, and get your morning cup of tea/coffee if you find that helps!
  • Be prepared for bad weather: This is especially applicable for cyclists, but keeping a spare set of clothes to change into when you arrive at work will be a big help. If you’re driving before you change over to a bus/bike, keeping a variety of coats and scarves in your boot can prove a saving grace if the weather changes suddenly.
  • Take care of your transport: Keep your bike safe and in good working order – you can find some tips on how to do this and some support services through the Bike Doctor. It’s also worth carrying a spare tyre pump and bike lock key just in case! The same goes for cars – MOTs and servicing are a legal requirement, but it’s also worth remembering to perform monthly checks on your tyre pressure and oil level, as well as keeping that washer fluid topped-up. Car problems will make your commute very difficult, so it’s worth keeping things in line for your own peace of mind.
  • Make your social life work with you: Obviously, a big appeal of the trainee program is the cohort: a group of like-minded folks who you’ll inevitably want to spend time with outside of work. Where possible, make time to spend with them (or anyone else in the city!) around your work day – go out for drinks/dinner after work some nights, spend your breaks together drinking coffee and eating doughnuts, or even meet up for lunch. There are ways that you can build your social life around your pre-existing presence in the city, to save you adding extra travel time into your weekends/evenings.
  • And finally, give yourself an out: This may sound like a strange one, but I think it’s worth saying. Your commute doesn’t have to be a permanent commitment. The graduate trainee posts are one year posts (usually) and bus passes or parking permits are purchased (at most) on an annual basis. You can look at that year as a trial period. If you decide after the year that you want to keep working in Oxford, then you have a good chance to re-evaluate your options in terms of your commute. Are you happy doing that commute in the long term? If you’re not, can you consider moving closer to the city? Or changing your method of commuting? If the answer to all these questions is no, what librarianship opportunities can you find closer to home? Keeping your options open can help you to avoid getting stuck in a bad routine.

A Day in the Life (English Faculty Library)

Monday 21st February 2022

When I first started working in public libraries in the beginning of 2021, a fellow Library Assistant told me that “library work is all about managing constant interruptions”. She was, unsurprisingly, correct. What I didn’t realise upon hearing this, however, is how delightful some of these interruptions would turn out to be. Here’s just one example of a somewhat bitty but utterly delightful day at the English Faculty Library.

8:40AM – Morning Routines

There are a few things that I try to get out of the way first thing in the morning – they’re small jobs, usually a little piecemeal or done in a different order each day for various reasons:

  1. Opening up the library: I’m usually first to arrive, so I start by opening up the library for the day. This means checking that we have enough paper in the printers, opening windows, switching on lights, unlocking the computer room, and making sure that reader PCs are turned on. Usually someone else will arrive and help me out (thank goodness!).
  2. BSF collection: When I sit down at my desk, my first task is to dig out the lapse list from the EFL email account. This list tells me which books I need to pull from the Self Collect shelves in the reading room to return to the BSF. Once I’m done with this, I collect any BSF books that have been self-returned, and then start scanning everything through and packing them into boxes. Usually we’re moving somewhere between 1-3 large blue boxes, so it’s easy for me to take these to the collection area by myself on a trolley.
  3. Daily admin: After this, I’ll quickly flip through my emails and start actioning items into my task list on Outlook by their priority, check my teams messages, and respond to things that can be dealt with quickly. There’s a very little to deal with today, which makes planning my time much easier!
  4. The EFL's New Periodicals Display, housing 12 new periodicalsHandle anything left on my desk: There are some jobs around the library that are designated trainee tasks, and these will often be left on my desk or in the visible vicinity. This might be something like post, a missing book form, or a claimed return that needs chasing. Today, it’s in-house periodicals! Most periodical subscriptions are available online, but the EFL still holds a small number of print editions in-house – when these are used by readers, they’re passed to me so that I can track their usage on a spreadsheet before they’re reshelved.

9AM – New Periodicals

One of the tasks left on my desk which takes a little more time is a small stack of newly arrived periodicals. These need to first be registered on our periodicals spreadsheet, then checked in on Aleph, then physically processed with stamps, stickers, and tattle tape. Once complete, I’ll pop anything that I can out onto our New Periodicals Display (and move older editions off the display and onto the general shelves).


Books, labels, bookplates, and stamps all laid out for preparation9:30AM – New Books

Another designated trainee task is the processing of new books for the EFL. I try to wait until I have a stack of about 6 new books before I start processing them, as they’re easiest to do in batches. Today, lo and behold, I have a perfect 6 awaiting my attention on my trolley! Our Library Assistant in Charge of Collections has already set them up on Aleph and given them barcodes, so I start by physically processing them with stickers, stamps, and book plates. There’s more to be done with them yet – but first, I have some other urgent business to attend to!

10AM – Trainee Twitter Meeting

Yep – you heard it here first, folks! The current trainee cohort is in the process of setting up our very own Oxford Libraries Trainees twitter account! A small trainee twitter team has been having meetings around once a week for a while now to solidify our ideas, plan our content strategies, and prepare for our launch date. It’s a project I’m really excited to be a part of. It’s a brilliant opportunity to participate in shaping what the traineeship will look like in future and to improve outreach to the next generation of librarians.

A selection of red, leather-bound books with golden print on the side depicting a sword and shield11AM – Tea Break

The meeting wraps up around 11AM, and I’m in need of a tea break. Once a week I let myself head upstairs to the Missing Bean Café for a proper coffee and a doughnut, but most days I stay in the EFL. We have a good kettle and an abundance of communal snack foods in our break area – today I opt for breakfast tea and a mini chocolate chip muffin. Small delights, eh?

11:20AM – Back to New Books

With most of my morning duties out of the way, I’m free to get back to prepping our new books. Next up they need tattle taping and then covering. Covering can take anywhere between a few minutes and the best part of an hour, depending on what needs doing. Hardbacks need nothing done to them. Hardbacks with paper sleeves need a plastic cover put over the paper sleeve. Paperbacks are the most time-consuming, requiring the application of sticky-black plastic across the entire cover – watch out for bubbles below the surface!

There is a brief caveat of an interruption during my new book processing – at 11:30, I need to do my daily reader count. This is a very high-tech and sophisticated operation, during which I walk around the entire library and try to count the number of readers using the space (arguably, with varying degrees of success). It grants me a few awkward looks from confused readers, but it’s nice to take a stroll around the library and bid a good morning to Mr Tolkien’s bust as I pass.

12 Noon – Lunch

No free lunches for Bodleian staff, sadly, but I have leftovers to keep me going. In the warmer months, I like to take the lengthy (2 minute) stroll to the Holywell Cemetery – a graveyard turned nature reserve with some lovely shady benches that are just perfect for sitting and reading. Sadly, I recorded my day on the 21st of February – when we’re under a yellow weather warning for wind – so I hide in the office and read at my desk instead. Today’s choice is The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon.

1PM – Desk DutyA Shakespeare-themed rubber duck in front of the EFL shelves

After lunch, it’s my turn on the enquires desk, where I’m kept company by Bill, our rubber duck. Despite the fact that the EFL is a loaning library, we have no (functional) self-service machines, so all books have to be checked in and out of the library manually. Readers may also come to us with all kinds of queries, but most common are “can you help me find this book?”, “how do I use the printers?” and “can I please use the TP room?” (I’ll explain this later). Interacting with readers is for the most part a delightful experience, and it’s lovely getting to know familiar faces and trying to make a good first impression on the new ones.

It’s very rare that I’m overrun with enquiries, so I can usually spend a little time doing computer-based tasks while on the desk. Today, I’m working on a New Books blog. I write these once a month, selecting 5 books that we’ve acquired in the last month and writing a little bit about each of them. It helps me to keep abreast of our collections and it’s fun picking out the most intriguing titles. Sometimes I’m even able to do them to a theme (like this one for Black History Month!) though this is heavily dependent on the relevance of recently acquired items to current events.

A blue delivery crate, loaded up with books, waiting on a trolley3PM – BSF Delivery

Our daily BSF Delivery is usually made somewhere between 2PM-3PM, so once I’ve been relieved of the enquiries desk, I take the lift down to collect it. Today’s delivery is 2 boxes, made up of a mix of Self-Collect items, new books, returns from ARACU (the Accessible Resources Acquisition and Creation Unit), and reservations for the issue desk (some low-use loanable EFL items are kept at the BSF, and can be ordered for borrowing). I start by sorting everything into piles, then quickly pass the new acquisitions to our Library Assistant in Charge of Collections.

Next I process the BSF books: I check them in on Aleph, add a green slip, and load them onto a trolley in order of their collection code. Once these are all sorted, they can be taken out to the reading room and added to the Self-Collect shelf. I usually give the shelf a little tidy at this point, as it can get quite messy with all the readers who use it. After this, I process the holds on the reservations, return all the ARACU books – and then take a big deep breath and decide it’s time for a tea break.

3:30PM – Tea Break

Another cup of tea! I try to resist taking another snack from the staff room. Sometimes I’m more successful than others…

The EFL's New Books display, complete with signature green flags3:50 – Once More, New Books

I told you this was all about managing interruptions! The final stages are simple, add shelf marks to the spines, put label protectors over them so they don’t fall off, then sensitize the books. Then I can add the books to the EFL’s LibraryThing account. This allows anyone to see a list of what the EFL is acquiring. It’s a helpful addition to SOLO, as it allows you to see all the newer books in one place. We can also customise the listings through tags; if the reader were interested in, say, modernism, they could find a list of over 200 books on the subject.

Last but not least, the books can be marked as ‘New Books Display’ on Aleph/SOLO, then artfully arranged on our New Books Display – handily located right next to our door!

4:15 – TP Room

The card catalogues and volcanic rocks from the TP roomThere is one more interruption in the midst of this new book processing (I did tell you I’d come back to explain this later!). A colleague comes in and says that a reader needs to be taken down to the TP Room.

TP Room stands for Turville-Petre Room (it’s also known as the Icelandic Room). It’s named after Gabriel Turville-Petre, once a Professor of Ancient Icelandic Literature and Antiquities at Oxford, who donated his private library to the English Faculty Library upon his death. The TP Room itself doesn’t house his collection, but instead holds our Icelandic materials, classic sagas, Norse mythologies, and modern periodicals on the same themes. The same name applying to a separate room and collection is, admittedly, sometimes a cause for confusion…

The TP Room is not actually housed within the library itself. To access it, readers have to collect a TP Card from the enquiries desk and head downstairs into the midst of the English Faculty itself. It’s a small space, but utterly delightful. Caged bookcases line every wall, and the room is decorated with photographs of Gabriel Turville-Petre, as well as antique card catalogues and pieces of volcanic rock. It is in almost constant use throughout the week. As staff, our job is simply to head down when requested, unlock the room, and open the cages so that readers can access the books.

4:30 – Reading Room Checks

I have one final task I need to complete for today, and that’s to run a report on the reading room. This is a simple procedure done through Aleph, which produces a list of all the BSF Self-Collect books currently loaned out to our reading room. During term time, this report typically ends up about 10 pages long. I print this out, dig out a clipboard, and head into the reading room to check that everything is where it’s supposed to be. If anything is amiss, I make a note of it on my list.

Usually, a reader is simply using the book at the time I make the check, so I perform secondary and tertiary checks on other days and times. However, it’s not uncommon for readers to muddle up their books and accidentally take home BSF books (which are meant to stay in the library at all times). If this ends up being the case, I send off some emails to the readers and get everything squared away.

5:00 – Homeward Bound

With my work done for the day I wash up my mug, straighten everything on my desk, and dig out my bus pass. My fellow trainee from Teddy Hall was very correct to say that Oxford is a city with so much to do. I’ll often stay to meet a friend for dinner, see a show at the New Theatre or the Playhouse, or meet other trainees for food or drinks – but tonight I’m actually headed out of the city. I have a very important D&D game to get to on Monday nights.

A Visit to the Weston

On Wednesday 3rd November, the Graduate Trainees were treated to a special tour of the Weston Library, where the Bodleian Libraries maintains their conservation lab and special collections materials.

Conservation Studio

By Lucy Davies

My favourite Wednesday training session so far has been the visit to the Weston Library for a tour of the Conservation Studio and Special Collections. This trip really sparked an interest in book and paper conservation for me so I hope this blog post describing our experiences can do the afternoon justice.

According to the Bodleian Conservation and Collection Care team, their role is “to stabilize bindings, bound manuscripts and early-printed books with minimal interference to their original structures and features”. Part of their role also involves maintaining and caring for the open-shelf references books and lending items in the Bodleian libraries. Their responsibilities are extensive and there are a number of roles in the team, including Book Conservators, Paper Conservators, and Preventive Conservators. The Bodleian’s is the second largest conservation team in the UK!

When we first arrived, head of preventive conservation Alex Walker talked to us about storing library materials correctly. Alex’s job is to train the Bodleian Libraries staff to care for their collections and to oversee preventive conservation projects.  Her role includes managing and avoiding pest damage to the Bodleian’s collections, and she discussed with us the kind of damage that silverfish and woodworms can inflict specifically. As former students, we were all too familiar with a silverfish infestation, but had never witnessed the damage they could inflict on paper. Interestingly, silverfish graze along the surface of the paper, whereas bookworms burrow through from cover to cover – the more you know!

She showed us examples of damaged materials and explained how everything from temperature, location, humidity, and the material of a storage box can drastically affect the condition of books and manuscripts. The damage was quite extensive and highlighted for me the importance of preventive conservation and pest control in libraries, not something that had been at the forefront of my mind whilst working at the SSL.

Removing the framing of a document, sewing the binding of a book, and doing repair work on a book's spine.
Examples of conservation work performed by the Weston team, as displayed on bookmarks which are available to readers.

Once our skin was crawling at the thought of various insects, it was then over to Julia Bearman to show us the work she has been undertaking on the consolidation of paintings within a Mughal album. She showed us how she takes photographs of the work before beginning and then carefully marks on the photos every change or repair, however miniscule, so that everything done to the object is recorded. It is a slow and careful process that clearly requires patience. Additionally, Julia explained to us that the aim was not to make the book of paintings appear new again, as that could be misleading and unhelpful to those undertaking research. Instead, her aim is to stabilise it and preserve it enough to travel to exhibitions or not need further conservation work in the near future.

What was most interesting to me was that Julia explained she undertakes research for months before even touching a new project, which I thought was incredible, and highlights how much work goes into a conservation project before even picking up any tools. She speaks to other conservators and academics to gain an understanding of the object’s history, the materials it is made of, and what the aim for the conservation project should be.

Paper stretched on racks, someone filing some a wooden piece, and bottled liquids
Examples of conservation work performed by the Weston team, as displayed on bookmarks which are available to readers.

Finally, it was over to Andrew Honey who showed us how his role is to conserve and rebind books. Again, he outlined how the aim is not to make the book look like it was never damaged but to use minimally invasive techniques to stabilise the book. This is because invasive techniques or the use of certain materials can cause further damage down the line. Interestingly, leather is no longer used to repair broken leather book spines, but rather cloth is used, as this is safer for fragile materials.

He also showed us a book from Henry VIII’s personal library, which blew all of our minds to see, I think. It was covered in velvet as apparently even Henry’s books were not safe from his gaudy fashion tastes. It was fascinating to see it right there in front of us and to learn about how the Bodleian is conserving it so it can survive for future generations to learn from.

The tour of the conservation studio could have lasted days and we still wouldn’t have seen everything, but I learnt so much in the couple of hours that we spent there and am very grateful to the staff for taking time out of their day to share their expertise and experiences with us.


Special Collections

By Sophie Lay

After our time in the Conservation Studio, we took a much needed tea/coffee break in the café. From here, we met the Weston’s own Chris Fletcher: Keeper of Special Collections at the Bodleian.

Chris then proceeded to take us on a tour of the Weston Library. We travelled through a series of complexly inter-connected corridors and stairwells which, in retrospect, I cannot piece together at all. The building is a maze, but a delightful one full of treasures – perhaps leave a trail of breadcrumbs if you go exploring! The building weaves together classic and modern architecture, combining oil paintings and sweeping doorways with sleek exhibition spaces and glass viewing platforms.

The tour began with a glance into one of the reading rooms (the Rare Books and Manuscripts Reading Room, to be precise), an architectural delight with exposed stonework, skylights, and a gate-like entrance. From here, we travelled up to the roof terrace. The terrace is not a public space, as it backs onto a reading room so requires quiet, but fret not – we couldn’t possibly miss the opportunity to get a photo or two.

The view over the Clarendon, Sheldonian, and Bodleian Library

Chris then took us down to the Archive Room. Inside, two archivists were hard at work up to their elbows in material. We only saw glimpses of the pieces down there, but they covered a broad spectrum of subjects from OXFAM to the Conservative Party to Joanna Trollope. Chris assured us that in libraries, a dedicated archiving space of the size available at the Weston is a rare and special thing.

Then came the closed stacks, nestled out of public view and often discussed in whispers and covert glances. Of course, these spaces are highly secretive, so there is very little I’m allowed to tell you in a blog post. I can especially neither confirm nor deny the rumours of underground tunnels connecting the Weston stacks to the Radcliffe Camera and the secret wine cellars of the Sheldonian Theatre, Merton College, and All Souls College.

The next highlight for me was the Centre for Digital Scholarship. What had once started out as a few computers that researchers could use to view their rare books in close detail became rapidly swept up in the wash of digital advancement. The centre now exists as a hub for using cutting-edge and innovative digital tools to support multi-disciplinary academic pursuits as well as engaging with the wider public. They run workshops, seminars, and events – some invitation-only, and some open to the public. You can find out more information about that here, including the Digital Humanities School. What is particularly fascinating to me is how this work applies to librarianship, with digitisation projects already underway and the popularity of electronic resources rising among academics of all levels.

The final destination for our tour was the Bahari Room, where Chris showed us some of the rare items that the Bodleian is currently working on or has recently acquired. The talk was detailed and I could not possibly give away all of Chris’ trade secrets, but here are a few key points of our discussion:

  1. In buying special collections, time is of the essence. Pieces that are up for sale get snapped up incredibly quickly, so you have to act fast. Chris told us that he has received catalogues and picked up the phone to purchase items within minutes of delivery – only to find them already gone.
  2. Some of us took the opportunity to talk to Chris about how institutional collectors navigate cultural heritage and the question of repatriation: who owns an artefact? Where did it come from originally? Through what processes and hands did it end up in the collection? These questions are key in collections work.
  3. Collaboration and mutual respect are important within and between academic institutions. Sometimes multiple bodies team up to purchase certain collections that can be mutually owned. And sometimes, you have to know when another institution has a more vested interest than yours in purchasing a particular item. It pays to back off and let someone else win sometimes (though not always!)

The training session ended as most do, with fond goodbyes and a trip to the pub for the willing. I’ll spare you the details of that, and instead, leave you with a sneak preview of the rare artefacts shown to us by Chris Fletcher…

Rare Collections Material: According to Chris, this was the first bible bound by a woman.

National Poetry Day at the EFL!

It seems appropriate that we have a little shout-out to National Poetry Day from the English Faculty Library. I’ve noticed a lot of poetry books coming in to the library lately. So in the interest of sharing a poem, as suggested by the National Poetry Day initiative, I’d like to share with you some of the inner workings of our poetry collection (as well as a special little surprise) and what exactly the EFL trainee does with our poetry.


As the graduate trainee at the EFL, part of my job is doing physical processing on all the new books that arrive at in our collection (stickers, stamps, and covers). As a result, I’m lucky enough to get my hands on new books before anyone else, including our shiny new poetry books. I noticed lately a lot of books coming in labelled ‘PBS’, so I did some digging.

Here at Bodleian Libraries we have institutional membership with the Poetry Book Society. The PBS was founded by T.S. Eliot in 1953, with the aim ‘to propagate the art of poetry’. They’re like a book club that deliver brand new poetry books and magazines to their members every quarter. Simply put, we get a curated selection of contemporary poetry straight to our shelves.

The autumn selection of books includes:


Part of my job also involves preparing incoming periodicals to the library (more stickers, stamps, and covers!). For the more classic poetry fans, you may want to know that we also have a subscription to Yeats Annual – a periodical publication full of advanced research essays on the work and life of the canonical Irish Poet, W. B. Yeats. Each edition is intriguingly different in physicality and contents, and illustrations and photographs are ubiquitous in the later copies. Though publication has been delayed in recent years, we have a shelf full of these just waiting for the eager Yeats scholar to peruse.




Yes, I’m saving the best until last. One final thing that is eminently worth knowing about poetry at the EFL – one thing that I didn’t even know until today – is that there is a poem written about the English Faculty Library! U. A. Fanthorpe’s poem, In The English Faculty Library, Oxford is published in her New and Collected Poems (which is available to borrow from our collection).

“It is a charnelhouse. The quick and young
Choke on the breath of refractory clay.

Down in the cellars the dead men grumble
Resenting, resisting the patterns
We make of their bones.”

Fanthorpe, U. A., and Carol Ann. Duffy. New and Collected Poems. London: Enitharmon, 2010. Print. p.109

Sophie Lay, English Faculty Library

Hello! My name is Sophie Lay, and I’m the graduate trainee for the English Faculty Library this year – which is a delight for my literary and Tolkien-adoring tendencies.

Before joining the trainee scheme I was working in public libraries, and prior to that I studied a BA and MSc in Creative Writing from the Universities of Gloucestershire and Edinburgh. I knew from my student days that I wanted a career that revolved around books, but was never too keen on working in publishing or book-selling. Libraries seemed like an ideal fit. When the chance came up to progress my career and work in Oxford – a city I knew and loved from growing up in Oxfordshire – the opportunity was too good to miss.