The Sackler Library is a five-floor tall hub for multiple humanities subjects: archaeology and the ancient world, art and architectural history. It is also known as one of the principal research libraries within the Bodleian family. In other words, if you work here, there is always something to do!
Trainee life is incredibly varied – I attend weekly training sessions with my cohort, swap libraries with my fellow Taylorian counterpart, or work on my project with the library’s former Art & Architecture Librarian. However, for this ‘Day in the Life’, I will be documenting a more typical day at the library and the important tasks that keep it functioning.
8:45 – Arrival
I arrive at the Sackler Library after – very thankfully – a walk through Oxford in the sunshine! On my way in, I’ll check our book display table and make sure everything is neat and presentable. Once I’ve settled down at my desk, I will sign in on teams and check any emails which have come through. Generally, I will set some rough objectives for the day, and plan how to fit these in alongside my duties. Sometimes I’ll check in with my colleagues, which is the best way to start the day.
9:00 – Book processing and classifying
I first decide to look over some “problem books” set aside by my colleagues during processing. This normally means there is an issue with their ALEPH record (ALEPH is the library’s current cataloguing system: it contains information about the book’s contents and how it might be stored in a library). For example, occasionally these books will be missing a shelfmark, be allocated to an incorrect floor, or the physical book will be labelled differently to its online record.
At the Sackler, we have a range of shelfmarks; there are several in-house systems, as well as the more common Library of Congress Classification which marks most of our Art & Architecture books. Given this mix, it’s very important to double check books when they arrive here. Today I was looking at books with incorrect shelfmarks.
One fun thing about being the Sackler trainee is that I also get to work once a week at the Nizami Ganjavi Library (NGL), just down the road from the Sackler. Here, we’ve been working on a big reclassification project. My supervisor there has been kind enough to teach me how to either find, or manually work out, Library of Congress shelfmarks. This is something which – after six months of library work – brings me a lot of satisfaction and joy. It’s a bit like learning a new language or understanding a code. This means I can identify LCC shelfmarks, and add them to our Sackler books when they are missing!
Once I had updated the records on ALEPH to have the correct shelfmark, I then print new labels and write the new code inside. Some of the books are reader requests, so I’ll get in touch and let them know that they are ready for their consultation. The others are placed on a shelf, ready to go on our New Book Display every Monday. Here, readers can explore new titles in the Library, which they may not otherwise think of consulting.
9:30 – Lapse list
Next, I move on to the lapse list. These are BSF (offsite book storage facility) books with expired loans, so they need scanning through ALEPH (which also, handily, is our circulation system) and packed up in crates. The Sackler Library gets a lot of books from the BSF, probably because of the library’s size and how central it is. Often I’ll listen to a podcast whilst I work through this.
10:00 – Morning break
Break time! This morning I pop to the staff room and make a coffee. For me, its really important to take a break from my desk to give my mind space to focus on something different.
10:20 – Post
One of my trainee duties is looking at the library’s post. We get a range of things sent to us, from journals to donated books. Today I look at my favourite part, our donations: for example, books sent to us from Art Galleries which might be added to our collections.
Once I have unboxed them, I check if books are held at either the Sackler or Bodleian library, or we have a legal deposit copy. This can take some time as I often need to translate titles to get more information – and it’s easy to get engrossed looking at some of the art books’ beautiful images! Once I’ve looked at whether there are other copies of the book, I fill out a ‘donations flag’. These books then need to go to the relevant subject librarian, who will decide what to do with them next.
11:15 – Long office
Once I have filled out all the donation information, I take the post upstairs to the Sackler’s ‘long office’. This is where the subject librarian shelves are held. With the help of our little ladder (indeed, working in libraries is a fast cure for any fear of heights you might have), I place the books accordingly, and then pick up more post on my way down to look at over the next few days.
11:30 – Problem-solving
Once I have returned to my office desk, I meet with our senior library assistant to discuss what to do with donations which are less relevant to the Sackler’s subject areas. I email relevant libraries which the books may be of interest to, and write out a rough plan for the rest of the afternoon.
12:00 – Lunch
For lunch, I always go outside to stretch my legs. The Sackler is in the centre of Oxford, so I am never without beautiful walks and things to see. Sometimes, I’ll meet my friends for coffee – Saint Michael’s Street down the road is home to some of the best cafés, which is a bonus of the Sackler’s location!
13:00 – Journals
Whilst I wait for the afternoon’s delivery, I process new journals. As I mentioned, the Sackler holds a variety of subjects. This means we hold a lot of journals, which each need checking when they arrive. Like the books, I check ALEPH records , label those which are confined, and write the shelfmark on our special journal stickers.
13:30- BSF Delivery
The delivery arrives, stacked five crates high. This contains books from the Bodleian’s offsite storage facility, which readers can order to consult within the Sackler Library. Each book needs to be scanned through, and given a flag with the conditions of the loan on them. Given the size of the day’s delivery (a few inches shorter than your average library assistant), this takes some time. I pop on another podcast to have on in the background, and get to work. Once the books are scanned in, they go on our ‘self collect shelves’ for readers to find.
After this, I tidy up the workroom arrange new books to be processed for the following day.
14:40 – Afternoon break
Coffee time again before my desk shift for the rest of the day.
15:00 – Desk duty
At the Sackler Library issue desk, we circulate books and answer reader enquiries. Sometimes readers struggle to find books, have questions about their hold requests, or need their Bod card registering. For the first, I am always happy to help; the Sackler reading rooms are circular, which makes it trickier to navigate if you don’t know the library well. It definitely took me several weeks to get used to the set-up!
The Issue Desk is quieter at present, given that many readers have left Oxford for Easter break. I use my time to research books for future displays, create graphics for the Trainee twitter account, or process more journals. I like working on desk as it mixes tasks with reader interaction, providing a steady flow of library work for remaining afternoon.
5:00 – End of the day
Home time! I hand over the desk to the evening team and head out. Springtime is upon us, and walking through Oxford in the setting sun is the best way to unwind from work.
[NB the Sackler Library has now been renamed to the Art, Archaeology and Ancient World Library]
For LGBTQ+ History Month, a selection of the trainees (alongside the St Antony’s Apprentice Library Assistant) have come together to share how LGBTQ+ History is represented across the libraries. Between displays and notable books, libraries provide an important place to learn and reflect on the progress and successes the community has achieved.
Jess Ward and Josie Fairley Keast, Law Library
The Law Library’s LGBTQ+ History Month Display
For LGBTQ+ History Month, Jess has put together ‘A [Brief] History of LGBTQ+ Rights in England.’ On display from the library’s physical collection are the Sexual Offences Act 1956 and the 1967 Amendment, the Gender Recognition Act 2007, and the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, with many other examples from the sixteenth century to the present day summarised and cited. The book display traces the progress that has been made since the first mentions of LGBTQ+ individuals in English law, but also highlights some of the issues still facing members of the community today.
Yoshino, Kenji. Covering : The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights. New York: Random House, 2006.
Outside of actual legislation, another recommendation is Kenji Yoshino’s 2006 memoir Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights. This book intertwines legal scholarship and social history with Yoshino’s lived experiences as a gay Asian-American man, reflecting on the state of civil rights and identity politics in mid-2000s America.
“I surfaced back into my life. I made decisions with persuasive efficiency. I chose the American passport over the Japanese one, the gay identity over the straight one, law school over English graduate school. The last two choices were connected. I decided on law school in part because I had accepted my gay identity. A gay poet is vulnerable in profession as well as person. I refused that level of exposure. Law school promised to arm me with a new language, a language I did not expect to be elegant or moving but that I expected to be more potent, more able to protect me. I have seen this bargain many times since – in myself and others – compensation for standing out along one dimension by assimilating along others.” (Covering, p. 12)
Venegas, Luis. The C*ndy Book of Transversal Creativity : The Best of C*ndy Transversal Magazine, Allegedly. New York, 2020. TR681.T68 C36 CAN 2020
‘On the pages of C*NDY Transversal, [Luis Venegas] acknowledged queerness in fashion, highlighted people all-but-forgotten in LGBTQ history, and introduced an audience to up-and-comers who were changing the landscape of music, runway, and trans culture – and he did it with a glamorous twist. C*NDY was beautiful.’ (p.44)
In 2009, Spanish independent publisher Luis Venegas launched the first issue of C*NDY Transversal Magazine. C*NDY set out to create ‘something like a trans vogue’, celebrating everything ‘transversal’. In Venegas’ own words, this encapsulates trans, gender non-conforming, non-binary and androgynous people, as well as ‘male and female impersonators and drag queens’ – all whom he believes ‘basically break the outdated rules of gender’. Since the first publication, C*NDY has developed a cult following and grown in traction. Later issues have featured renowned LGBTQ+ celebrities such as Miley Cyrus, Laverne Cox, Janet Mock, and Lady Gaga. However, each issue goes beyond the celebrity: they are filled with portraits of trans rights activists, drag stars, androgynous models, LGBTQ+ embraces.
The Very Best of C*NDY Transversal Magazine, Allegedly is a collection of some of C*NDY’s most iconic spreads. Highlights include model Connie Fleming posing as Michelle Obama, headshots inspired by Candy Darling, and a letter to Venegas from a young transgender fan (p. 251). The latter is particularly significant, a reminder of the importance of celebrating LGBTQ+ people and expression in the past and present.
Readers can enjoy these highlights on glossy pages – akin to the magazine itself – and also read quotes from those who are featured. Many of these offer real insight into the importance of C*NDY, with contributors sharing their appreciation for the visibility it provided. Meanwhile, many quotes are punchy quips about gender expression and identity. These combine to make a book of boldness, of beauty, and aspiration.
Venegas has made it clear that – whilst books dedicated to identity beyond the binary are immensely important – C*NDY does not attempt to discuss the achievements of the LGBTQ+ community. C*NDY is instead ‘a project for all’, in particular ‘anyone who felt othered by their freedom of expression’. It is about fashion, makeup, and hair, in a landscape that goes beyond the gender binary. This is a welcome space of indulgence, through the prism of LGBTQ+ identity.
Serano, Julia. Whipping Girl : A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity. Second ed. Berkeley, 2016. HQ77.9 SER 2016
A foundational text in transfeminism, Whipping Girl by the biologist Julia Serano is available to loan from the English Faculty Library. The book is described in its tagline as “a transsexual woman on sexism and the scapegoating of femininity”.
The copy we have at the EFL is actually the second edition, which was published in 2016 (10 years after the original). In that time, the book has become a key text (not, Serano notes, the only perspective!) on discussions surrounding gender, queer theory, and feminism. However, as the author says herself in the preface to the second edition: “While the major themes that I forward in Whipping Girl remain just as vital and relevant today as they were when I was first writing the book, some of the specific descriptions and details will surely seem increasingly dated as time marches on.” (p.X).
Despite this, I found myself drawn to discussing the book during LGBTQ+ History Month because of how important this text has become. One of the key elements of this collection of essays and slam poetry is its conception of trans-misogyny: the dangerous blend of both oppositional and traditional sexism (Serano’s phrases), as well as the fact this this book is credited for the popularisation of cis terminology (e.g. cisgender, cissexual, cissexism, etc.). Another important highlight for me is a staunch defence of femininity, and an examination of both the derision of the feminine and accusations of its superficiality and performativity.
It’s hard for me to go too much deeper into the issues of the book without simply parroting all of Serano’s ideas, so I’ll leave off with a quote from the introduction that I believe provides a good baseline for the book:
“One thing that all forms of sexism share – whether they target females, queers, transsexuals, or others – is that they all begin with placing assumptions and value judgements onto other people’s gendered bodies and behaviours.” (p.8)
St Antony’s College Library LGBTQ+ History Month Display
At St Antony’s College library our collection covers a wide range of material on the social sciences, international politics, economics, anthropology, history, and culture. This means we were quite spoilt for choice when selecting material for LGBTQ+ history month! When creating our display, we wanted to make sure we showcased the best of what our collection has to offer on this subject and draw attention to the ways LGBTQ+ history is interconnected with, and relevant to, so many different areas of study.
Our display includes material that talks more broadly about the economic, political and international aspects of LGBTQ+ history, such as M.V. Lee Badgett’s the Economic Case for LGBT Equality and Cynthia Weber’s Queer International Relations, to material that focuses on the experience of the individual like Amrou Al-Kadhi’s Life as a Unicorn. We also wanted to ensure that our material covered history and culture from multiple parts of the world, so we have included books on LGBTQ+ history in China, Russia, the US, Africa, Latvia, the UK, India, and more.
Creating this display has been a fascinating and inspiring experience. The vast amount literature written about LGBTQ+ history from multiple areas of study just goes to show how important this history is when it comes to gaining a better understanding of the world and the human experience. It is crucial that we continue to showcase and celebrate LGBTQ+ voices, stories, and history, and I look forward to seeing our LGBTQ+ history collection grow and flourish in the future!
Prompted by Black History Month, we trainees have come together to share contributions from Black voices across our libraries and different disciplines. We invite you to look through our selection, consider them through the coming months, and continue celebrating Black history within your reading throughout the year.
Lizzie Dawson, All Souls College Library
Amo, Anton Wilhelm, & Abraham, W. E., Inaugural philosophical dissertation on The “[apatheia]” of the human mind, Accra: Department of Philosophy, University of Ghana. (Psych.18)
While researching All Souls Library’s collection, I found this translation presented by All Souls’ first African-born Prize Fellow, William Abraham (born 1934).
At first sight, this unbound dissertation is easy to overlook, tucked away on the shelves in the book stacks, but it too is an example of a first.
This document is a translation into English by Abraham of a dissertation by Anton Wilhelm Amo (c. 1700-c. 1750) – born in what is now Ghana, enslaved, and then gifted to the Duke of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel – he became the first African person to earn a PhD in philosophy at a European university.
On the 16th of April, 1734, at the University of Wittenberg, Amo defended his dissertation, De Humanae Mentis Apatheia (On the impassivity of the human mind), in which he investigates the logical inconsistencies in René Descartes’ (1596-1650) res cogitans (mind) and res extensa (body) distinction and interaction. One of the 18th century’s most notable Black philosophers, Amo went on to teach philosophy at the Universities of Halle and Jena. You can read the original version of the dissertation with an English translation here.
An influential champion for the cause of abolition, Amo ultimately became embattled by racism and opposition to his beliefs. In 1747, he sailed back to present-day Ghana, where he remained for the rest of his life.
Lorde, Audre, Sister Outsider, London: Penguin, 2019. (DE / POL / 261 / LOR)
Audre Lorde (1934-1992) self-defined as a “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet”. She was also a School Librarian in New York during the 1960s. As a feminist and activist for the rights of Black and LGBTQ people, Lorde directly challenged white feminists and Black male intellectuals who neglected the experiences of Black and lesbian women.
Although the term ‘intersectionality’ was not coined until the late 1980s, Lorde’s work repeatedly stressed the danger of neglecting differences between women. Sister Outsider (1984) features essays and speeches including her landmark “The Master’s Tools Will Not Dismantle the Master’s House.” In this essay, Lorde argues that although women have been taught to use these differences to separate themselves from other women, or else ignore them, it is only by acknowledging these differences that women’s oppression can be understood and overcome.
Lorde also comments that women are expected to educate men, and Black women are expected to educate white feminists. Reading and listening to the voices of Black women helps people of all races and genders understand how Black women’s experiences are impacted by race, gender, sexuality, class, and age, but relies upon the emotional labour of often marginalised writers. As Lorde writes, poetry is the most accessible and economical form of literature because it can be written ‘between shifts, in the hospital pantry, on the subway and on scraps of surplus paper’. Her perspective challenged me to reconsider poetry, a form I had often associated with elite white male writers, a legacy perhaps of the kind of poets still studied most widely in schools.
Sister Outsider is part of our Diversity & Equality Collection, which showcases writing by and about people in underrepresented and marginalized groups. This collaborative project began last year, with members from across the College making book recommendations. The Collection includes various disciplines, from History and Politics, to Classics, Music, Languages and more. My predecessor as Graduate Trainee was involved with the beginning of the Collection, helping reclassify items in the existing Library catalogue and acquire new material. Now, when I process our latest acquisitions, I am involved in helping the Collection grow.
Babalola, Bolu. Love in Colour: Mythical Tales From Around the World, Retold. London: Headline, 2021. (S33 BAB:Lov (A))
“It’s important to be able to see Black people and people of colour in love – and in these hopeful contexts that aren’t mired with darkness and strife […] reality is that we’re just living our lives and we’re falling in love as Black people”
(Bolu Babalola, ‘Interview: Bolu Babalola on Love, Diversity, Redefining Romance’ (2020)
Joining the Black History Month 2021 campaign ‘Proud to Be’, Teddy Hall Library worked closely with student BAME Officer Jeevi Bali (2019, Jurisprudence) to showcase Black authors this October. Bolu Babalola’s debut book Love in Colour was one of the books bought new for a display specifically celebrating Black British authors.
In Bolu’s own words, Love in Colour is a“step towards decolonizing tropes of love”. Through brand-new tales and retellings of love stories from history, folklore and mythology, Bolu explores love as at once intrinsically universal, and complexly personal. We move with Bolu and her characters across time, continents and genres; as she brings together West African folklore, her own bad date experiences, Greek mythology, and her parents’ romance. Perhaps most moving in the collection is Bolu’s attention questions of sight. Who is seen, who wants to be seen, who is allowed to see, are questions which circle all love stories, and they are questions which Bolu beautifully considers and handles throughout her collection. For Bolu, Love in Colour is at its core about romance. To potential readers, she says: “If you like romance, you’ll like this book; it’s as simple as that”.
Himid, Lubaina, Lisa Panting, and Malin Ståhl. Lubaina Himid: Workshop Manual. London: Koenig Books, 2018 (N6797.H5635 A4 LUB 2018)
‘Using her theatre background Himid construct ambiguous scenes, at times populated and other times not. We are not quite sure if what we are presented with is a safe place or a place of danger, if the protagonists are under threat or are in control of the situation. The vibrant colours and beautiful patterns, clothes and landscapes attract the viewer into situations that are not yet fixed. Himid’s protagonists are mostly black, and well dressed in clothes that point us to different moments and contexts; inviting us to consider our position and role in histories and what we subsequently do with them.’
(‘Introduction’, Lisa Panting and Malin Ståhl, p 52)
Lubaina Himid is a Zanzibarian-born British painter, based in Preston. She has spent the course of her career exploring untold stories and Black history through reams of colour and carefully-composed figures. Indeed, her singular work championing Black creativity, institutionally obscured throughout history, lead to Himid winning the Turner Prize 2017. She was the first Black female artist to win the prize, and continues to celebrate other Black artists through her work in curation and activism.
Lubaina Himid: Workshop Manual is a collection of Himid’s work and writings, encompassing over four decades of canvas painting, cut-out figures, and installation art. Although varied, her works tie together in a kaleidoscope of colour and vibrancy. Readers can see British crockery overpainted with maps, faces, and west African patterns; selected pages of The Guardian show how images and words connect in the press to harm perceptions of Black identity; painted planks of wood which celebrate the importance of one’s own past, which she reflected on when travelling in South Korea. Each are incredibly meaningful and evocative. Unfailingly, her works prompts viewers to consider hidden narratives of Black history within British culture and beyond. This is the crux of Himid’s work, creating an internal response within others and reminding them of the true world they live in.
The Manual includes ‘The Lost Election Posters’, a series of paintings mimicking typical political campaigns. Himid intends – and successfully, too – to evoke questions of who is represented across powerful institutions. In her own words, the later part of the series ‘are essentially portraits of potential power’ (see photographed). These comprise some of my personal favourites in the book, and I would recommend anyone in the Sackler taking time to appreciate it.
‘I make this work, and have always made it, for other black women. These conversations are and have always been important. I want to show that our lives are complex yet ordinary, filled with the same weight of what has been done to us but at the same time normal and boring too’ (‘A Conversation between Lubaina Himid, Lisa Panting and Malin Ståhl, Hollybush Gardens’, p 293-299)
You can read more about Lubaina Himid here: https://lubainahimid.uk/
[NB the Sackler Library has now been renamed to the Art, Archaeology and Ancient World Library]
Jemima Bennett, New College Library
Marechera, Dambudzo. The House of Hunger. Harlow: Heinemann,2009. (LIT/MAR)
‘My whole life has been an attempt to make myself the skeleton in my own cupboard. I have been an outsider in my own biography, in my country’s history, in the world’s terrifying possibilities.’
Novelist, short story writer, and poet, Dambudzo Marechera (1952-1987) was born in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. A student at New College, Oxford, from 1974, he was eventually sent down after a turbulent two years and repeated clashes with staff and students. Shortly afterwards, in 1978, his first book, The House of Hunger, was published, winning the 1979 Guardian Fiction Prize. Two more of Marechera’s books were published in his lifetime,Black Sunlight(1980), Mindblast(1984), with three others, including a collection of poetry, published posthumously.
The House of Hunger, a collection of short stories, consists of nine interlinked stories concerning Marechera’s childhood and youth in a Rhodesian slum, with the rest of the stories focusing on his time in Oxford. Marechera leaves his readers in no doubt of the sense of otherness and alienation which he felt while he was in Oxford: the story, ‘Black Skin What Mask’, begins with the statement ‘my skin sticks out a mile in all the crowds here’. His writing has been described as abrasive and he himself called his experience of writing in English, rather than his first language Shona, as a matter of ‘discarding grammar, throwing syntax out, subverting images from within, beating the drum and cymbals of rhythm, developing torture chambers of irony and sarcasm, gas ovens of limitless black resonance.’
‘“I got my things and left” is the coolest opening line in African fiction. Marechera is nothing like any African writer before him’ (Helon Habila)
All quotations taken from The House of Hunger (see reference).
Boakye, Jeffrey. Black, Listed: Black British Culture Explored. London: Dialogue Books, 2019. (HT1581.BOA 2019)
“Call me Black and you’ll remind me that, racially, I’m everything I’m not, which makes me everything I am. Call me Black and I won’t even flinch because I’m so used to calling myself Black that it’s become the invisible lens. A perspective that has hardened into an objective truth. Call me Black and I’ll welcome the definition, despite the fact that it denigrates just as much as it defines. Call me Black and I’ll flinch. Call me Black and I won’t even flinch.”
Black, Listed by Jeffrey Boakye is an exploration of Black British culture through the descriptors used by and for Black people in the UK. Boakye examines how words and labels can reinforce stereotypes or alternatively create a sense of community. He explores 21st Century Black British identity through an analysis of pop culture and autobiographical anecdotes. The book begins with Boakye recalling how he’s “been Black since about 1988”, the first time that he was made aware of the “otherness” of his skin colour by his classmates in primary school. The theme of Black identity in the UK being perceived as an otherness runs deep throughout the book, as Boakye explores how the Black British community has been represented, oppressed, celebrated and discriminated against.
Touching on everything from the Grime scene to global Black history and the experiences of the Windrush generation, Boakye provides an accessible and entertaining yet raw and insightful view of what it means to be Black in Britain today. I would recommend it to anyone looking to question what purpose labels serve, and in what ways they can be helpful and in what ways they isolate.
Marson, U. & Donnell, A., 2011. Selected poems, Leeds: Peepal Tree Press. (PR9265.9.M37 A6 MAR 2011)
Una Marson was born in 1905 in Saint Elizabeth, Jamaica. By the time she first left Jamaica, she had published two poetry collections, founded the feminist periodical Cosmopolitan, and wrote her first play and had it staged. She bought her first ticket to London in 1932, but moved back and forth between Jamaica and London multiple times throughout her life. Outside of poetry, her career was busy and varied, with highlights including:
Author and Director of the first Black production on the West End with her play At What Price.
Editor of and Contributor to The Keys, the journal of the League of Coloured Peoples (of which she was a prominent member)
Head of the West Indies Service for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
Founder of the BBC’s ‘Caribbean Voices’.
Speaker at the conference of the British Commonwealth League
Speaker at the conference of the International Alliance for Women’s Suffrage and Equal Citizenship
Secretary to Haile Selassie (Emperor of Ethiopia) during his exile to London
In the words of Alison Donnell, editor of this collection, Marson is not often enough noted as the “women poet whose works pioneered the articulation of gender and racial oppression, brought Jamaican vernacular voices alongside a Wordsworthian passion for nature, and ventured to give subjectivity to powerless and marginalised subjects.” (p.11) This collection pulls together a broad selection of her work (published and unpublished) to try to present a complete picture of Marson’s poetics – as contrasting as it is enlightening.
In total, Marson published four poetry collections. Her work as a poet is as varied as her life, with a wide range of influences from European forms and models of her earlier work to the use of blues forms and dialect in her later work. Thematically speaking, her poetry often focused on Black representation, gender politics, religion, immigration, nature, love, Jamaica, and war. Despite the heavy topics, she often dwells on beauty, hope, and the uplifting. See this extract, for example, from the deceptively titled ‘Black Burden’ (pp.146-147):
Black girl – what a burden –
But your shoulders
Black girl – what a burden –
But your courage is strong –
Black girl your burden
Will fall from your shoulders
Una Marson: Selected Poems is now available to loan from the English Faculty Library, newly acquired this month.
Marson, U. & Donnell, A., 2011. Selected poems, Leeds: Peepal Tree Press.
Snaith, A. (2014) “Una Marson: ‘Little Brown Girl’ in a ‘White, White City,’” in Modernist Voyages: Colonial Women Writers in London, 1890–1945. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 152–174. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139018852
I’m Izzie, the graduate trainee at the Sackler Library. Here, we hold collections relating to art and architectural history, and archaeology and the ancient world. These collections are, without doubt, wonderful to peruse when I am handling them for various tasks.
Before coming to Oxford, I completed my undergraduate degree in Law. During my studies, I worked for a legal database and provided support for students when navigating information. From here, working with readers and resources at the Bodleian seemed the perfect next step. Fortunately, I got the position and the opportunity to build on this experience!
It has already emerged that library users utilise the Sackler for a variety of needs and purposes. I am certainly looking forward to learning all I can this year, moving from a student to university staff, and – accordingly – better understanding the functioning of academic libraries.
[NB the Sackler Library has now been renamed to the Art, Archaeology and Ancient World Library]