A Day in the Life of a Sainsbury Library Trainee

Anna Roberts – Sainsbury Library

08:40 

Whilst sipping tea from my KeepCup on the bus, and glaring at the traffic ahead, I email my supervisor because I think I may be a little late!

09:03

 I arrive in the library. My opening shift is made a lot quicker and easier because my supervisor starts work a bit earlier than everybody else. This means she usually does most of the opening up. However, if she is not starting early then these are some of the tasks that we do: folding up blankets on our blanket shelf, returning books on the library system that were in our library return box, walk around the library floors turning the lights on and tidying up the desks and chairs (students and staff at the school can use the library outside of staffed hours), check and replenish paper levels in the printer, and check our IT equipment loan folder. The library is embedded within the Saïd Business School which means the building is already set up before staff come in and business students can still use our library after we go home too!

09:10 

We had a mystery wire on our enquiry desk this morning which may have been lost property, but it does look like some of the HDMI cables that are connected to our docking stations. So, I went to investigate whether there were any missing cables.

The PC area cables and wires in our lower reading room were a complete mess like vines all curled up together. So, I decided to tidy the area up a bit.

09:20 

Part of desk duty is to monitor our library email inbox. So, I checked the enquiries that we had. Usually, they will involve a mixture of readers asking for business-related research help, some asking for help accessing library resources both online and offline, and others will be requesting access to databases. Some of our databases require staff to create accounts for students, others have a limited number of IDs that we issue to students for a set number of days. Due to high demand, there is often a waiting list for these IDs.

We also welcome and grant access to library visitors, usually non-Saïd Business School students, occasionally others, into the library. Reception rings us to say that a visitor is here and wants to use the library. Often the visitor is already racing up the stairs so you must get an access card ready and hopefully meet them at the door before anyone else enters and leaves-otherwise the visitor will be trapped in the library!

09:30 

As the library was quiet, armed with blue tack, a pen and sticky notes I went around our PCs checking if they had the ‘how to log in’ labels on the monitors. I re-tacked some of them and recorded the number that didn’t have any and the docking stations that require their docking labels too. I plan to update those without another day.

09:50  

My colleague, who also works at the library’s Egrove site, gave me a book which had been requested for scanning. Egrove Park is the location for the business school’s Executive Education services, which includes some residential courses. We have a small collection of roughly 955 books which can be borrowed by users at Egrove and by members of the university.

I check ALMA for any other requests to triage and fulfill. I then wrote a post-it note for the part to be scanned and placed the book on my desk in the office.

I also checked the SBS intranet to keep up to date with news within the school. I read an article giving the Dean’s message about International Women’s Day (IWD) the next day. Internal communications were also requesting staff to send along a picture and a couple of words for IWD. I created a book display for IWD and a window display for the Oxford Africa Business Forum. As I was planning to write a blog post about my book display, I decided that I would also send a picture and some words along for this. You can read the blog post ‘Celebrating in True Library Fashion’ and see a list of the books on our Sainsbury Library News page.

A selection of cakes with lots of heart designs
A picture of part of the bakery display that the catering put on for Valentine’s Day

11:00 

My colleague who was covering my 20-minute morning break came along to cover. I went to the school’s café/common room to help myself to a free tea in my KeepCup. Staff at the school get subsidized food at the common room and dining hall which means a 50% – 60% discount on cakes, pastries, cheesecakes, and whatever other delights the café and catering team rustles up! I go to the tea stand where there are free teabags and an urn of hot water. I listened to some music and relaxed for a bit.

11:20

Back on desk duty after my break.

My colleague asked someone on site to check Harvard Business Review on SOLO as it appeared to have disappeared. I took a look and indeed it was an empty page. Whilst I was testing a different browser, I also assisted some readers with in-person enquiries and welcomed visitors in.

As part of my SOLO investigation, I tried searching in Journal Search and Harvard Business Review and came up with no results. I then tried searching for other journals, same result. I then tried searching with filters and nothing was appearing! Something was wrong! I then compiled an email for OLIS help with screenshots to report the problem. It is always useful to include precise information about the browser and what you are doing when asking for assistance. The team sent out an email to the library mailing list to inform all the libraries and staff that SOLO was experiencing problems, and they thanked our team for reporting it.

In a lovely gesture, a reader whom I had assisted with printing came to the desk especially to say thank you for my help before leaving. This is always very appreciated.

12:30 

Journal search is back up! We are lucky to have a fantastic OLIS team who work hard, often in the background, to make sure the Bodleian Library keeps running! A few of my colleagues on site were in a meeting whilst all this happened and didn’t even know that there had been a problem.

Tart and salad on a plate
Oxfordshire Blue and Mushroom tart, plus salad! -Keeping us healthy

13:00 Lunch break

My colleague for the afternoon comes to enquiry desk to changeover. It often seems to be the case that the phone starts ringing, someone wants to borrow IT equipment and something else pops up right when you are transferring. Anyway, I greeted the visitor and then went for lunch, leaving things in my colleague’s hands.

For lunch, I went to the school’s dining room and got an Oxfordshire Blue Cheese and mushroom tart plus the ambient salads that the kitchen provides- very yummy! Staff can get a good quality hot meal or ambient meal for around £2.50 each day- what a bargain! I listened to some music whilst eating and then read my book outside sitting on the school’s amphitheatre steps because it was finally sunny (if a bit chilly though).

14:00 

I had a few plans about what I wanted to do like completing the scan and deliver request and completing my blog post. I recently discovered ‘Bodley and the bookworms- Scan and deliver video which I can’t get out of my head when I hear or read‘scan and deliver’. I decided to focus on finishing my blog post as this was more time sensitive. It is often the case as a trainee that you will be juggling a few tasks at a time and that you may be producing blog posts or book displays to mark different events/themes in the year, either local to your library or subject, nationally or internationally. So far, I have done Business of AI, Financial Times ‘Book of the Year’ displays and now IWD and Business in Africa. I will consult with members of the team about future displays.

A stack of 4 large blue boxes and a trolley with 10 grey cardboard archive boxes
Blue crates and archive boxes-took me four trips!

15:00

I go to cover my colleague’s afternoon tea break. Just as I arrive on desk a reader who is doing Futures Library research informs us there should be more blue crates here for her. She has gone through most, if not all now, of the Pierre Wack library! So, I popped downstairs to check if the Bod book van had arrived yet. The van had arrived, delivering 10 blue boxes/totes plus an oversized archive box- I think this was a record for our library (or at least for me!) although I  know that is a tiny delivery in comparison with some of the other libraries. I ended up taking three trips in the lift to bring everything up. It was quite intriguing see some of what is inside the archive boxes- VHS tapes, cassettes, a briefcase folder. My colleague and I scanned in the archive boxes, including an oversized one with a briefcase in it and then my colleague finally went on his tea break.

15:30

A colleague who assisted with putting the book display up and organising kindly offered to be in a photo for the book display for IWD- I was very grateful that she was willing to be in it too! With the photo taken I then finished the blog post for IWD and the Africa Business Forum display and then edited the IWD part slightly to share it with the Saïd Business Schools Internal Communications Team. They very kindly added a bit of context to the library and created an article on Atrium to share with colleagues at the school.

15:45

I went for my afternoon tea break and once again got a tea from the tea station in the school’s common room. I also browsed the pastries and cakes but decided to skip it- they are always very tempting though!

16:05

I caught up on some emails and my to do list.

16:20

Sainsbury Library is currently running an assessment activity concerning where students are sitting and the noise levels of the reading room. We have a board and stickers for students to pick what they are in the library to do and where on our library map, they would prefer to sit to do that. We were also doing some observations in the afternoons where two of us walk around the library and noting where people were sitting and what they were doing e.g. group study, silent study. That afternoon I was doing the observation. Students sometimes looked at us a bit quizzically as we walked around and stood observing the tables.

16:40

Our circulation and customer services librarian showed me how the library records teaching statistics are recorded (this is sessions where staff members have delivered inductions, consultations, and lectures) and SCONUL counts (the SCONUL homepage has a picture of my old library so had to include a link!). Sconul counts are when we, along with other libraries, count the number of readers in the library at a specific time and date. Our circulation librarian is responsible in our library for recording these statistics this and it was good to see what is recorded, why it is recorded and how it is recorded. I have found that there are often opportunities in my day to observe and learn from other staff members about different tasks they do, even if I am not going to be specifically assisting them.

6 books with post-it notes on their covers
Books I need to sort out

16:55

I write a note in my notebook about some of the ‘book stuff’ I need to do: process new books, complete a scan, and a a plastic cover to the dust jacket. Here is a visual picture of it:

17:00

I head to the train station to wait for a bus home!

 

 

 

Book Snakes and Library Ladders: a trainee plays the Bodleian board game

 

The board includes 6 libraries and paths between them divided into squares, against a background of a map of Oxford. On it are placed chance cards, catalogue cards and five coloured game pieces.
The game board during play.

Back in 1988, the Bodleian created a truly ingenious piece of merchandise: The Bodleian Game, an incredibly niche board game for those who feel they just don’t quite spend enough time in the Bodleian Libraries in real life. Sadly, it is no longer available to buy new, but when one of my housemates managed to procure a second-hand copy, we were all very excited. (Getting excited over a library-based board game is very normal, actually.)

You begin the game by picking a research subject – we went for Women in Society – and are given the first book you need to read on that subject. The premise is then that for each book, you need to first visit the Old Bodleian; consult one of three catalogues there in order to determine which library your book is housed in; journey across Oxford to the relevant library; locate the book in that library’s catalogue; “read” the book and use the references to determine what you need to read next; and roll the dice to determine how useful the book was to your research. Highest score at the end of the game wins, so there is an incentive to reread if you don’t score highly.

Three cards. They read "Book misfiled - find it next turn"; "Book in place" and "Caught eating and have your reader's ticket confiscated - go to Admissions to reclaim it".
Different cards you might face before you can read your book…

 

Sound like a convoluted process? It was! We’ve never been so grateful for SOLO and the fact that it is accessible everywhere. Impressively, the books in the game were all real items held by the Bodleian, which we were of course able to check from the comfort of our kitchen table.

The fun of the game came from seeing how the mechanics had been created to replicate the true Bodleian Libraries experience. For example, chance cards could banish you to the starting spot for getting caught eating in the library, or delay your reading due to your book being already on loan. By the third time one of us drew the card that says you have left your Bodleian card at home and need to go to Admissions, and had to trek back across the board, I was feeling a distinct twinge of guilt for all the readers I have said the same thing to. And if you landed on the same square as another player, you both had to head straight off to the King’s Arms together – I’ll leave our readers to confirm or deny the accuracy of that one.

 

Two score cards with columns of Reference, Shelfmark, Title and Score. One is significantly more filled out than the other.
Two of our score cards by the end of play – I didn’t get as much reading done as my housemate!

Gameplay was not particularly rapid, and was based more on luck than strategy; think Monopoly or Ludo. We ended up setting a time limit to mark the end of the game rather than work our way through all fourteen suggested books, and elided a couple of rules to speed things up a little. But at times, knowledge was rewarded: at one point my housemate deduced (correctly!) that as she was looking for a letter, she could head straight to the John Johnson collection rather than return to the Old Bodleian to consult the catalogue there.

 

Would I play The Bodleian Game again? If I had time to spare on a relaxed game, then absolutely. Am I glad that in real life the Bodleian Libraries function differently in 2024 than they did in 1988? Very much so.

 

 

Michaelmas term round-up

As the libraries empty out over the Christmas vacation, the trainees reflect on their first term.

 

A display including fact sheets and images of suggested titles such as Ableism in Academia and The Oxford Handbook of Disability History
The Disability History Month Display in the Old Bod Lower Reading Room

Christmas at the Old Bod has arrived, and although in the last week there have been fewer visitors, the reading rooms are still peopled with studious readers. I’ve put up some fabulous Christmas decorations (circa 1970), and the tree in the quad has drawn even more tourists in.

The past few months working at the Bodleian have been a lot of fun. One of my favourite activities has been making displays and advertising resources that the Bodleian has to offer, like my recent book display for UK Disability History Month . It means I get to interact with a wider variety of books from our vast collection. What it has fundamentally shown me is that my favourite part of working in a library is the opportunities you are given every day to help people!

Nia Everitt, Bodleian Old Library 

 

 

 

My first term at the Sainsbury Library has been busy with tasks varying from processing new books, weeding old journals, and creating and updating signs for the library (which sometimes involves warming up the laminator!). I have three main highlights so far:

  1. Creating a ‘How to Guide’ for readers with Sainsbury’s Circulation and Customer Services Librarian. The guide covers topics like setting up the university VPN, how to use PCAS services, and how to search, find, borrow and request books in our library. It is over 60 pages long and counting…
  2. Creating an AI book display which then led to creating an AI window display at the library entrance and now updating our Business of AI LibGuide to include books from the display and A visitor even came in asking about the display because they saw the post I wrote on our Sainsbury Library News blog.

Both projects have helped me to learn about the variety of support and services that the Bodleian provides. I have explored business databases, SOLO, ORLO, and other University of Oxford resources doing these two projects. I have realised that readers at Oxford have access to a wealth of resources but, through working on the enquiry desk, you come to realise how many readers do not know about it! So, the final highlight is:

  1. Helping a reader discover something they didn’t know before and helping them with problems they have accessing services.

The reader’s gratefulness after helping or even just visiting the library is like extra icing on a cake. The gratefulness is a reminder that helping someone in a way that, as staff we may feel is small or routine, such as scanning a chapter, telling someone about a useful LibGuide or just showing them where the printers are, can be quite significant for our readers.

Anna Roberts, Sainsbury Library

 

What a learning experience a term can be. ALMA, ORLO lists, law reports, legal databases, citation styles, serials processing, loose leaf binders: they were all quite new to me. Happily, thanks to the great training and brilliant support from library colleagues, they aren’t anymore. But never fear: the readers and the library keep coming up with new and intriguing conundrums (missing books, obscure queries, rare Bodcard colours…). I’ve loved assisting the students, faculty and visitors (there was one reader who was so enthusiastic when I showed them our bookable study spaces that I got the firmest handshake I have ever experienced!), but equally have come to really appreciate the mindful calm that can come from a book moving or filing spell (when not interrupted by an urgent scan request for use in court, or a group of new readers to guide round, or a puzzling mountain of books left somewhere seemingly at random – there’s always something going on!). And of course, our visits to the CSF, conservation studio and special collections were a real highlight. The term has certainly confirmed that I’d love a career in libraries, and I’m looking forward to the next term, when there will be a recurring display to organise, some more to learn about cataloguing, and a Libguide to write! Keeping busy…

Wanne Mendonck, Bodleian Law Library

 

A Christmas tree stands on a marble table in the Union Society Old Library. There are bookcases and decorative walls visible in the background.
Christmas tree standing on the mysteriously chimneyless fireplace in the Union Society Old Library.

Working for the Oxford Union Society Library is amazing! This term the Union was visited by Sir Roger Penrose, Nazanin Zaghari Radcliffe, Tom Hanks, etc and I have tried things I have never attempted before, such as creating displays – possibly my favourite task as I get to research everything from Victorian ichthyology to recreational drugs, Oxfordshire geology to gothic poetry, and medieval table manners to historical transgender figures. I had never used Twitter, never posted on Facebook, and had never run a professional Instagram account and this term I began running the Library’s (Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook). Training can be pretty interesting too; so far my favourite day has been the conservation day at the Weston Library where we learnt how books are fixed, what pests to look out for (we were handed round laminated insects e.g. silverfish), and about active and inactive moulds.

Connie Hubbard, Oxford Union Society Library

 

This term has been a wild ride. Alongside learning an incredible amount from my training process at All Souls, there have been some amazing events in the library such as a play, a visit from a youth orchestra and a formal dinner. We had over 700 new reader applications, over 1000 visitors to our open day and over 200 book requests. All in all, these first few months of my traineeship have been immensely positive. The day to day work has often been chaotic, but this meant I was rarely bored and always learning. I am very excited for the challenges Hilary term may bring, and feel ready to face them.

Elena Trowsdale, All Souls College Library

 

It’s hard to believe that it’s been three and a half months since my first day at the Rad Cam – the time has flown by! But when I stop and reflect, a lot has happened over this period, and I have learned a lot.

Besides some of the big stand-out moments from the training sessions, such as the tour of the CSF or our afternoon with Special Collections, I think the main highlights for me have been the pleasure of helping out readers and the variety of the work; my days regularly involve fielding enquiries at the circulation desk or reception, fetching and scanning books for Scan and Deliver, donning glamorous high vis and directing delivery vans through the quad, creating blog or social media content, processing new books, and more. I enjoyed getting to take on the responsibility recently of sorting out the HFL books for rebinding, and I’m really looking forward to getting started with my project next term.

Xanthe Malcolm, History Faculty Library

 

It’s safe to say that as my first full term as a trainee draws to a close, the experience has been jam-packed! From the day-to-day running of the EFL, to our weekly training sessions (not to mention the cheeky post-training pub trips) there’s always something going on, and always something new to learn. Looking back at my introduction post, I can easily say that I’ve enjoyed everything even more than I thought I would. Highlights being (of course) the tour of conservation studios; the opportunity to see incredible literary figures such as Philip Pullman; and learning more about the EFL’s collections through my project! Being a part of the traineeship has really cemented that I want to continue working in libraries and, having seen next terms’ training schedule, I’m even more excited for the new year.

Leah Brown, English Faculty Library

Astronomy at the Old Bodleian: The 1769 Transit of Venus

When you’re working at the Radcliffe Camera and the Bodleian Old Library, you sometimes end up fielding questions about the history of these establishments from curious readers, and so a colleague advised me early on to do a little bit of reading on the subject. We even keep a helpful printout of the Wikipedia page for the Bodleian Library at the Proscholium (the main entrance), and as I was looking through this a sentence caught my attention:

“The astronomer Thomas Hornsby observed the transit of Venus from the Tower of the Five Orders in 1769”. [1]

Interesting, I thought – having studied astrophysics at university, I’m a little bit of a space nerd. So, I started diving deeper into the topic.

What is the transit of Venus, and why was it important to observe?

Venus appears as a small black dot visible against the Sun, which appears large and orange.
The transit of Venus as photographed in 2004.

The transit of Venus simply refers to Venus crossing directly between the Earth and the Sun, like the moon does during a lunar eclipse. Since Venus is significantly further away from us than the moon, it appears much smaller, and so during its transit we would see a small black dot moving across the face of the Sun. The last two transits of Venus occurred in 2012 and 2004, and the next one won’t be until 2117. [2] Nowadays, an event like the transit of Venus is interesting to watch, and is a good way to get people interested in astronomy, but back in the 18th century, it was also of real scientific significance.

Edmond Halley (1656-1742), of Halley’s Comet fame, was the one to suggest that the 1761 and 1769 transits of Venus would be the perfect opportunities to take some measurements which could be used to calculate the distance of the Earth from the Sun, a question that became known as “the most noble problem in Nature”. [3]

But how would this be done? The answer lies in a phenomenon called parallax. [2] The simplest demonstration of parallax is to hold a finger a little distance in front of your nose, and close one eye, then the other. You should notice that your finger seems to move, because you’re now looking at it from a different angle. If you experiment with holding your finger at different distances from your face, the size of this effect will change. Similarly, if you watch the transit of Venus from multiple places on Earth, it will cross the edge of the Sun at very slightly different times, and if these times are measured accurately enough, you can work out the distances involved.

The 1769 transit

To get the best results, observations need to be made as far apart as possible. James Cook and his crew were to journey to Tahiti to observe the phenomenon there [4], and many scientists and keen amateurs planned to make their own observations all around the world [3]. As Bridgerton fans may recall, even King George III observed the transit.

The phenomenon really captured the public imagination. Lectures were held in the lead up to the event, and a wide range of prints and instruments were sold [3].

Observations in Oxford

Thomas Hornsby, the Savilian Professor of Astronomy at the time, chose to make

The Tower of the Five Orders. It is built of pale stone and is ornamental pilllars and statues decorating it..
The Tower of the Five Orders today.

his observations from the top of the Tower of the Five Orders at the Bodleian Library [5]. He described his reasoning as follows, in an article published by the Royal Society:

“I proposed to observe the transit of Venus and the Sun’s eclipse in the upper room of the tower of the Schools, which, though the floor of it be very unsteady, yet from its elevated situation afforded me the clearest view of the north-west part of the horizon, and is indeed the best place for making occasional observations in different parts of the heavens, and at different altitude, which this place at present affords.” [5]

Others made their own observations in locations including New College Tower and “an unfurnished room of the Hospital”. [5]

Hornsby described that although initially “the wind sometimes blew so hard as to incommode the observer”, the weather conditions soon became favourable to observe the transit. [5] However, he encountered the same problem as all the other observers: a phenomenon known at the time as the black drop effect, whereby Venus appears to stretch out and become pear-shaped as it meets the edge of the Sun’s disk. This, combined with the fact that the edge of the Sun’s disk appears darker than the centre, makes it very difficult to accurately judge the time at which Venus crosses the edge of the Sun. [2]

The results

Thomas Hornsby was one of several scientists who combined some of the data from different locations to attempt to calculate the distance from the Earth to the Sun. I found it fascinating that in his paper he does discuss ideas about errors and accuracy, albeit not in the quantitative way that a modern scientist would:

A series of drawings entitled "Appearances of Venus by Capt. Cook" showing Venus as a black circle with a grey halo around it , with the lower edge of the planet seeming to spread out as it crosses the edge of the Sun's disk.
Cook’s drawings of the black drop effect. [4]
“From the near agreement of the several results before found… and affected only by the necessary error in observing, the accuracy of the observation… is abundantly confirmed”. [6]

I also enjoyed the following sentence, which I can’t imagine ever seeing in a modern scientific paper, in which he explains an alteration he has made to the data gathered by the French astronomer Pingré:

“And Mr. Pingré… will probably be of the opinion, that an error of one minute was committed in writing down the time of his observation, as was conjectured by many persons, as well as myself; a mistake to which the most experienced observer is sometimes liable”. [6]

By the end of his calculations, Hornsby arrived at a figure of 93 726 900 miles [6] as the distance from the Earth to the Sun. Remarkably, there is only a 0.8% error in this compared to the modern value of 92 955 800 miles. [2]

However, different astronomers produced a wide range of different values [7], meaning that unfortunately, what we now know was a highly accurate result for Hornsby was a lucky fluke. Astronomers realised there were large errors in their data: instead of timings being precise to within a second, as they had hoped, there were uncertainties of about a minute, due to the black drop effect and the dark appearance of the edge of the Sun’s disk. [2] The final verdict was that the problem remained disappointingly unsolved. [7]

Final remarks

Despite the lack of a conclusive answer, I think this remains a fascinating part of the history of astronomy. The worldwide nature of the observations to my mind echoes modern enterprises such as the Event Horizon Experiment, which combines radio telescopes all around the world into effectively one huge telescope and so was able to take the first photo of a black hole in 2019. [8] Furthermore, the story of transit observations continues today as a key way in which astronomers are able to discover planets orbiting stars outside of our Solar System. [2] And all of this, to me, makes the connection to our own Bodleian Library site all the more exciting.

References

[1] Bodleian Library – Wikipedia Accessed 6 Nov. 2023.

[2] Transits of Venus | The Royal Astronomical Society (ras.ac.uk) Accessed 6 Nov. 2023.

[3] “The Most Noble Problem in Nature” (ox.ac.uk) Accessed 6 Nov. 2023.

[4] Cook, James, and Charles Green. “Observations Made, by Appointment of the Royal Society, at King George’s Island in the South Sea; By Mr. Charles Green, Formerly Assistant at the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, and Lieut. James Cook, of His Majesty’s Ship the Endeavour.” Philosophical Transactions (1683-1775), vol. 61, 1771, pp. 397–421. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/106113 Accessed 6 Nov. 2023.  https://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/44OXF_INST/ao2p7t/cdi_jstor_primary_106113

[5] Hornsby, Thomas. “An Account of the Observations of the Transit of Venus and of the Eclipse of the Sun, Made at Shirburn Castle and at Oxford. By the Reverend Thomas Hornsby, M. A. F. R. S. and Savilian Professor of Astronomy in the University of Oxford.” Philosophical Transactions (1683-1775), vol. 59, 1769, pp. 172–82. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/105821 Accessed 6 Nov. 2023.  https://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/44OXF_INST/ao2p7t/cdi_jstor_primary_105821

[6] Hornsby, Thomas. “The Quantity of the Sun’s Parallax, as Deduced from the Observations of the Transit of Venus, on June 3, 1769: By Thomas Hornsby, M. A. Savilian Professor of Astronomy in the University of Oxford, and F. R. S.” Philosophical Transactions (1683-1775), vol. 61, 1771, pp. 574–79. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/106123  Accessed 6 Nov. 2023.  https://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/44OXF_INST/ao2p7t/cdi_jstor_primary_106123

[7] “The Most Noble Problem in Nature” (ox.ac.uk) Accessed 6 Nov. 2023.

[8] Press Release (April 10, 2019): Astronomers Capture First Image of a Black Hole | Event Horizon Telescope Accessed 6 Nov. 2023.

 

Xanthe Malcolm, Radcliffe Camera

The Radcliffe Camera, a round building made of pale stone. It has columns round the edge and a dome on the top.
The Radcliffe Camera

Hello! I’m Xanthe, the Radcliffe Camera trainee this year. The Radcliffe Camera (or Rad Cam for short!) with its dome is one of the most iconic buildings in Oxford, and I’m delighted to report that it is even more stunning inside; I’m still feeling blown away to get to work in a space like this.

Despite the fact that the Rad Cam is home to the History Faculty Library, as well as various humanities books from the Bodleian collections, my background is in a completely different field. I did a degree in natural sciences, specialising in astrophysics, which was fascinating. I then taught physics in a secondary school for three years, and while there were aspects of teaching that I loved, I concluded that it wasn’t a sustainable career for me, so I started looking for other things. As a life-long lover of books and libraries, working in libraries had always been a vague dream of mine, but it wasn’t until this point that I started seriously looking into it and realised that it was genuinely something that could really suit me!

During the past few weeks, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the different collections around my library – there’s a major sense of achievement when you can look at the shelfmark on a book and know exactly where it goes – and gaining familiarity with my role, ready for a big upswing in busyness when the students arrive next week.

Looking ahead, I’m excited to learn as much as possible over the coming year about the different aspects of academic librarianship, and work out which direction I want to take as I move forward into a library career.

-Xanthe