Anna Roberts, Sainsbury Library (Saïd Business School)

The annexe, Sainsbury Library

Hello! I am Anna, and I am the Graduate Trainee at the Sainsbury Library.

The Sainsbury Library is the University’s Business and Management Library and is based on the first and second floor of Saïd Business School, Park End Street. Saïd Business School is the large building next to the train station, with a green ziggurat acting like a look-out tower. We are small, compared to some libraries, with a general purpose lower reading room, a cosy annexe, and a bright, airy upper reading room for silent study. My main duties so far have been to process new journals and books, repairing a book, helping out at the desk and with circulation, assisting with the Executive Education team and their reading lists (which is a whole other blog post!), and assisting with a variety of exciting projects. For instance, I put together a ‘Welcome to the World of AI’ book display (please visit or check out online). I am looking forward to other projects like an ongoing assessment of the sources used by students and making some new Libguides (guides for library users). I have also been learning about the subject of Business Information, in particular, the Business Information Ecosystem and the 60 business-related databases. Unsurprisingly, I still have a lot to learn and lots of database training to do!

The Library has another location at Egrove Park, in Kennington, where Saïd Business school hosts Executive Education courses. I am based at Park End Street but am looking forward to making a visit to Egrove. I have heard it is beautiful location as it is situated in 37 acres of wooded parkland with wildflower meadows. A colleague even spotted some deer waltzing around! However, apparently, the brutalist architecture is not for everyone but I reserve my judgment until I visit.

Whilst I am doing my traineeship in the Business Library, my background is nothing to do with the subject. I did my undergraduate degree in Philosophy and Mathematics at the University of Aberdeen and then an MLitt in Philosophy at SASP (St Andrews and Stirling Graduate programme in Philosophy). Aberdeen’s university library was a wonderful place to study, and the library is famous for looking like a massive ice cube and being inside of it certainly gives a similar impression, with all the outside facing walls being windows of glass. This allows you to see the city, from any point of the library and enjoy the coastline whilst freaking out about exams (hopefully it is calming and not stormy)! I continued working within various universities as a non-medical helper, primarily as Specialist Note-taker (if you need some fast typing let me know). This role meant I got to sit-in on lectures, take notes, and assist students who were studying a whole variety of subjects including Computing, History of Art, Childhood studies and even PGCE teacher training. It was lovely working with students to help achieve their goals and I knew I wanted to continue to assist others in any role I did in the future.

Me, next to part of the book display in the lower reading room, Sainsbury Library

I have always enjoyed libraries since childhood and in Sixth Form had one week of work experience at my local public library. I also worked at Bookends, a student-run bookshop on Aberdeen’s campus where I got a little snippet of shelving, auditing and processing books into our system (much simpler than Alma!). I am interested in librarianship because I believe in the key principle of libraries as preservers of past knowledge for future generations whilst providing access to information and resources to people now. For one of my dissertations, I did a lot of research about the philosophy of democracy. A key pillar of democracy (ideally) is to have a citizenship with a right to access a wide range of ideas and information. This broadens our horizons,  helping us to make informed choices and judgements, whilst also holding fellow citizens in roles of responsibility accountable. Every right we have has a corresponding duty/obligation that we have to each other to make sure everyone’s rights are fulfilled. Libraries act as a physical manifestation to fulfil important rights plus they act as great spaces to study and get lost in a book! I think it would be great to work in a field that has this grand role for society, but that achieves these abstract ends in very practical, everyday means by helping readers and preserving our collections. The combination of person-focused support and technical systems means that there is lots of variety in the field, on top of the variety brought by all the different subjects and I think this makes it quite an exciting career choice. I do not yet know if I want to focus on the readers services or the cataloguing/ technical side because, as perhaps shown my joint degree, I am bad at choosing between two things I enjoy!

I  hope to be an asset to the team at the Sainsbury Library, not just because they are fun and fantastic, but because they have been without a full-time graduate trainee for several years and they are very happy to finally be fully staffed! I am extremely grateful to be given the opportunity to work within such an esteemed institution as the Bodleian Libraries. Also, participating in their great training sessions on different aspects of librarianships, has so far, and I’m sure will continue, to be great!