If the answer is yes, then read on! We are looking for librarians of the future and our trainee scheme is the first step in your career in Librarianship/Information Management. Oxford’s one-year full-time traineeships provide an excellent launch-pad for undertaking a subsequent postgraduate qualifications and a professional career. 9 vacancies will be available, commencing early September 2024 and based in research, faculty and departmental libraries within the Bodleian Libraries. Please visit the vacancies website for more information and how to apply. We will also be running on online session about careers in libraries which you are very welcome to attend.
Exploring Careers in Libraries 19th December 2023, 10.00-12.00, Online via Teams
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to work in a library? Do you like working with people and information? If you answered yes to either of these questions, do come and join us on 19th December to find out about career options in libraries and to hear what working at the Bodleian Libraries could be like. The Bodleian Libraries include the Bodleian Library as well as 26 other libraries across Oxford including major research libraries and faculty, department and institute libraries. The Libraries hold many unique special collections as well as providing access to many digital resources that users can access remotely. You will gain an understanding of some of the roles you could do as well as how you can develop a career in libraries. Many people think of librarians as quiet gatekeepers of old, dusty books, but the focus of most library roles is on people and information, and how we can bring the two together and whilst books are an important part of libraries a lot of what we do is digital. We will talk about:
Options for working in libraries
Different sectors and roles
The work of the Bodleian Libraries
There will be a short break during the session and there will be time for questions. To book a place, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some of the advice in this article stems from a training session we were given by Tom Dale and Jane Falconer in January 2023, many thanks go to them for their invaluable advice and support.
This article is intended to help and reassure those of you applying for the Oxford Graduate Trainees roles or any other entry level library position. If you’re applying for the Bodleian Traineeships then interviews are right around the corner, so we thought we’d offer up some tips and techniques that will help you feel confident and prepared when walking into the interview.
What not to worry about
First off, a few things to set your mind at ease. Below is a list of common concerns prospective trainees have raised – and the reason why you don’t need to worry! We’ve also tried to include advice for how to manage these concerns at interviews as well as links to introductions from previous trainees who were in the exact same position as you! These are only a small collection of our previous trainees and you may find others who have similar life experiences to you by browsing through our Former Trainees page.
I don’t have any library experience… You don’t need any library specific experience to succeed at interviews. Over the years there have been plenty of trainees who have never worked in a library before being accepted into a trainee position. You only need to show that you have the skills to meet the job description, you can pull evidence of these skills from any area of your life such as jobs in other sectors, clubs, or volunteer work.
I’ve never had a full-time job… The traineeship is a graduate position, so it doesn’t require you to have previous full-time work experience. Many trainees have been recruited directly after finishing their undergraduate degree, as before, so long as you can prove you meet the job description, you’re in with a chance! Don’t forget extra-curricular society roles are a great way to evidence skills like time management and working in a team.
I don’t live in Oxford… Not living in Oxford before or even during the traineeship won’t harm your chances, and you’ll probably find that most trainees weren’t Oxford locals before taking on the job. Luckily Oxford has incredible transport links including a station, bus, and park and ride service, as well as being pretty bike friendly so if you do end up needing to commute in every day, you’ll have a wealth of choices for how to do it. The job doesn’t require you to be located anywhere specifically, so long as you can make it into work!
I didn’t study at Oxford… You definitely don’t have to have been an Oxford student to work at the Bodleian. There might be a few bits of Oxford jargon for you to get used to once you start working, but no one will expect you to know these ahead of time, and if you’re not sure about some terminology used by the interviewers then please just ask! The interviewers want you to do the best that you can, so they should be trying to avoid using any terms you won’t understand.
My degree is in an unrelated discipline… Although it may seem as though every librarian has a degree in either History or English it’s very much not the case. Previous trainees have had degrees in a wide variety of subjects including maths or science related disciplines. What you studied in the past isn’t going to adversely impact your chances so long as you can meet all the criteria of the job specification.
I graduated a while ago… Whether you graduated 2 years ago or 20, so long as you have a bachelor’s degree you count as a graduate. As with many of these questions, the key is to use your life experience to show that you have the skills to meet the job specification. Those skills can be demonstrated through all kinds of activities so if you’ve had a break in your career you can look to things like volunteer positions and societies or clubs.
I’ve had a previous career outside of libraries… No matter what you’ve been up to before applying the key thing is to use your experience to your advantage and show your interviewers exactly why it makes you the best candidate for the role. Maybe you previously worked as a teacher and therefore have fantastic written and oral communication skills thanks to all the classes you’ve had to teach and learning materials you needed to produce?
Every interview is different but at least at the Bodleian, they should all follow a similar schedule.
First you will be given a tour of the library you’ve been invited to interview at. A current member of staff, sometimes even the current trainee will take you around the library and tell you around the building, explaining a little about what the job entails on a day-to-day basis. This is not part of the interview.
The person giving you the tour has nothing to do with the interview process and is often actively discouraged from talking about you to the members of the interview panel. Obviously, that’s not to say you can start hurling insults their way without expecting repercussions, but if you worry that you said something that’s lacking your usual level of wit and intellect or walked straight into a glass door (we’ve all been there), don’t worry – your interviewer will likely never find out!
Take this opportunity to calm your nerves and find out more about the library you might be working in. Don’t forget, an interview goes both ways, and you want to be sure you’ll be happy working in this environment, so don’t be afraid to ask questions!
Before the interview itself starts you will take a quick test. This is designed to test your ability to use finding aids or understand shelf marking systems and normally take around 20 minutes. There’s no way to find out the test questions ahead of time, and you’re not expected to already know anything you’re being tested on. The interviewers are purely looking at how you tackle searching for materials and whether you’re capable of adapting quickly to new ways of sorting and searching through information.
It’s best not to worry too much about this part of the day. The test is short and is not the main way you will be assessed.
The interview is normally conducted by a panel of about 3 people, sometimes more, sometimes less. They will all introduce themselves before the interview begins but don’t worry too much about learning all their names and career histories, instead focus on answering their questions to the best of your ability.
The interview itself should take around 30 minutes and will consist solely of your interviewing panel asking questions and you blowing them away with your carefully planned answers! There is no set time that it should take to properly answer a question, it really depends on what you need to say. So long as you feel you’ve adequately addressed the question and provided good evidence of your ability it doesn’t matter if the question takes 30 seconds to answer or 2 minutes! There should be a little time at the end for you to ask your own questions as well – again this is an opportunity to get a feel for the work environment and decide whether this is the right job for you!
Remember, no matter what the schedule of your individual interview is, the key thing is to keep yourself as calm as you can. Everyone involved in the process is human – and sometimes things don’t work out quite how you’d predicted, but if you can give off an aura of positive confidence (fake it until you make it is the name of the game) then you’ll give off a great impression no matter what might go awry!
What can I do to prepare?
The key element to passing any exam is to know the syllabus requirements, familiarise yourself with the types of questions you might be asked, then practice your answers. It’s the same with a job interview – in this case however, the syllabus is the job specification. You should do your best to read the job spec thoroughly, so you fully understand what is being asked of you.
Break it down
A fantastic way to ensure you know the job specification as well as you possibly can is to break it down into its component parts. Each criterion might list more than one skill that is required of you, so it’s good to make sure that you’re addressing the whole thing and not just part. A spreadsheet might be useful at this point to keep track of all the different skills you need to demonstrate. Once you have your list of skills, you should look at your previous experience (it doesn’t matter if this is professional or personal) and choose examples of times where you Demonstrate You Fit the Job Criteria to match each skill. You can record these on your spreadsheet too! One thing to note is that you don’t need library specific experience to meet these criteria. A lot of library work is reader services (helping readers) and experience in the service sector like shop work or hospitality roles can be a great way of demonstrating your sk.
Think like an interviewer
Once you have your skills and your examples, try to come up with interview questions for each skill. The questions you’re asked will be designed to help you show off your abilities and demonstrate that you fit the job criteria. Try to come up with as many different questions as you can so that you cover every single way you might be asked about a certain skill. Remember, some, maybe even most questions can cover more than one skill requirement at a time, so don’t just address them one by one, come up with some questions that combine related skills, especially if they’re listed together on the job specification.
Answer your own questions
Now you have a list of practice questions it’s time to do the dirty work. You need to come up with concise but comprehensive answers that fully cover everything asked of you. Focus on answering the question as it’s written, not the questions you wish the interviewers would ask. Maybe you have a great piece of work experience that you think would blow your interviewers socks off, but you should only bring it up if you can show them how it’s directly relevant to the question being asked.
Practice Practice Practice!
Once you’ve drafted up your answers to the practice questions you’ve come up with, it’s time to practice saying them aloud. Even better would be to get a friend to help by choosing random questions for you to answer. Remember – the goal here isn’t to memorise your answers, but to get yourself comfortable talking about your skills off-the-cuff. Feel free to adapt and improvise as you go, just make sure that you’re always demonstrating those key skill requirements and presenting yourself in the best possible light.
Do a dry run
If you have the time and means, then visiting the library that you’re interviewing at ahead of time is a great way to help you panic less on the day. Not all libraries are open to members of the public, but even just practicing making the journey so you’re not stressing over public transport links can be helpful – but this is by no means essential to having a good interview. Whether you can travel there in person or not it’s always good to familiarise yourself a little with the collections and style of the library. Is it a listed building with little room that mainly caters to academics, or a modern space with all the newest library amenities for students and members of the public? Small things like this might not seem overly important, but they could influence the approach you take in interview answers, and showing you have prior knowledge of the library itself can never hurt. You can find all this information and more about the many different Bodleian Libraries here: Find a library | Bodleian Libraries (ox.ac.uk)
The 2022-23 trainees would like to wish you all the best of luck for your future applications and interviews. No matter how things turn out, making it to the interview is a significant achievement so even if you don’t get this job, don’t let it deter you from applying to others. The key thing is to learn from your experience, gather as much feedback as possible and do your best next time around!
Richard has delivered numerous talks about the delivery of e-content by libraries in the UK and the US, the role of libraries and archives, and the 2018 Tolkien: Maker of Middle Earth exhibition at the Weston . He has also written a number of articles, essays, research reports, and is the author of ‘Burning the Books: A History of Knowledge Under Attack’ , which was shortlisted for the 2021 Wolfson History Prize.
Last year a few of us trainees had the very exciting opportunity to speak with Richard Ovenden at the Weston Café over tea (and delicious cakes). Throughout the next few weeks, we will be sharing what we discussed in a series of blog posts, beginning with Richard Ovenden’s journey to Bodley’s Librarian – his interest in librarianship and where it came from
This is Part I of our four-part series on our interview with Richard Ovenden.
For information about how libraries and the Bodleian itself aim to tackle issues of accessibility, please see Part II.
For a discussion of the role of libraries moving forward into the digital age, please see Part III.
For a look at how various libraries are able to collaborate and serve their individual communities, please see Part IV.
After settling down with our beverages and cakes, we asked Richard how his journey into libraries began.
For him, it started early, “being taken to my public library with my mum when I was about three. So, borrowing books from one of my public libraries, and then, when I was a teenager, going by myself and reading.” This kind of memory may be familiar to many, but over the years, Richard made the change from reader to staff member after becoming a student librarian at his college library in Durham. The role was fairly typical, “mainly tidying – nothing very exciting”. But it was in his second year there when an opportunity arose that seems to have lit a spark in the young Richard Ovenden. The construction of a new college bar meant that he was offered the chance to move the secondary sequence “which was basically a basement room full of mouldering books” and told that if he stayed over the summer holidays he would be paid for his trouble. As Richard recalls, “this was great. I was the first from my family to go to university so my parents thought this was great as I was being paid.”
“For the first time, I could see myself doing a job.”
Whilst working on this book move, Richard came across some early books, “15th century things”. Not knowing what to do with them he went over to the University Library “to ask someone some advice – literally walking up to the enquiry desk”. The staff there “pointed to this door that had a brass plaque on it, which said: ‘Keeper of Rare Books’, which I thought was quite cool. There was a wonderful holder of the office called Beth Rainey, and she was incredibly kind and generous and patient and helpful, and I thought – wow, this is really good. For the first time, I could see myself doing a job.” After this revelation, he then stayed on as a trainee librarian at Durham with three others. “We moved around different departments of the university library and then went to library school”. For Richard, the event that really shaped his future in libraries “was really that moment – becoming a student librarian and meeting lots of serious professional librarians.”
After leaving the traineeship at Durham, Richard’s career progressed through a number of library jobs. Notably, at one point he became a member of what is now ‘The Rare Book and Special Collections Group of CILIP’ a title equally as impressive to impressionable young graduate trainees as the grand ‘Keeper of Rare Books’ must have been to Richard. But through all of his inspiring career moves, he credits his colleagues as being key mentors who were instrumental in his path towards becoming Bodley’s Librarian.
Whilst he was a member of the special collections group at CILIP, the chair of that same committee, Barry Bloomfield, “was a very senior figure in librarianship. He was just, again, very kind and helpful.” Another key figure in Richard’s early career was Ian Mowat, Chief Librarian at Edinburgh University Library. “He was a fantastic leader,” Richard reminisced. “Just working with him for four years, I learnt a huge amount. Not that he taught me but just watching him – I absorbed it.” After Ian Mowat died young, Richard felt the need to move on. “I couldn’t think of staying there and not working with him. So, I came to Oxford.” Whilst there Richard had the opportunity to work under his two predecessors in the role of Bodley’s Librarian. First was Reg Carr, who was instrumental in the integration of the departmental libraries at the Bodleian. Richard recalls that he “was also very involved in digital things and JISC – in the old days of JISC. So, he was great.” Then Richard’s direct predecessor Sarah Thomas “was a very different character, and I learnt a huge amount from her – I worked very closely with her. So, that was like a masterclass.”
“The variety of libraries continues to be a source of joy and wonder.”
Part of the strength of Richard’s career history is not only in the calibre of colleagues he has had the pleasure of working with
over the years, but also the sheer variety of roles he has undertaken. In Richard’s own words, “the older I get, and the more I look across the profession, I think the variety of libraries continues to be a source of joy and wonder.” Obviously he has a strong background in academic libraries, and he admits, “I’ve worked in university libraries most of my career” but as mentioned above he also has experience “in National Libraries and in parliamentary libraries” as well as being “involved in various ways with other special libraries as a trustee, like at the Chawton House Library which is for Rural Studies and has rural literature.”
Richard’s opinion is that “it’s good to be involved with all those different aspects because there are commonalities between them all, but their variety is partly what makes life interesting.” Beyond just keeping the spice in life however, he also makes the point that “they all serve their communities differently,” a sentiment which rings true for many of us in the library world.
We finished our interview by asking Richard Ovenden if he had any final pieces of advice for those looking to pursue a career in Librarianship. Ever the generous boss, he gave us two: Firstly, “just try and visit and talk to as many libraries and archives as possible. Just seeing the work of a diverse range and talking to professionals of a diverse range is just really good.” And finally, “your network – your own network. My network has in the past and continues to sustain me in different ways. I utilise it to ask questions and see who I can get to come and speak and see who I can connect my new colleague with to help him or her and the problem that they’re trying to solve. So that network that you’re building now – think about it as you are doing it. Collect people’s business cards, capture their profiles in your contacts lists, follow them on social media, go on LinkedIn – it’s really, really important. Nurture it and curate it and stay in touch with each other.”
Our hope is that the advice and information provided by this blog will help those of you out there who are also interested in pursuing a career in Librarianship and can serve in some small way to kickstart your own network of information and contacts. Anyone who is interested in connecting with other people at the beginning of a career in Libraries should check out the ECLAIR (Early Career Library & Information Resource) Community.
Exploring Careers in Libraries 17th January 2023, 10.00-12.00, Online
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to work in a library? Do you like working with people and information? If you answered yes to either of these questions, do come and join us on 17th January to find out about career options in libraries and to hear what working at the Bodleian Libraries could be like. The Bodleian Libraries include the Bodleian Library as well as 26 other libraries across Oxford including major research libraries and faculty, department and institute libraries. The Libraries hold many unique special collections as well as providing access to many digital resources that users can access remotely. You will gain an understanding of some of the roles you could do as well as how you can develop a career in libraries. Many people think of librarians as quiet gatekeepers of old, dusty books, but the focus of most library roles is on people and information, and how we can bring the two together and whilst books are an important part of libraries a lot of what we do is digital. We will talk about:
Options for working in libraries
Sectors and roles
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
There will be a short break during the session and there will be time for questions. To book a place, please email: email@example.com.
We are now recruiting trainees for a September 2023 start and details of the role and how to apply can be found on our University job pages. The Graduate Trainee scheme at Oxford is a great way of getting experience of working in libraries, and to find out whether a career in the library and information sector is right for you! If you’re interested in working towards making resources, services and spaces accessible to library users and enjoy interacting with others in a friendly and helpful manner then this could be the next step in your career.
Applications to be a Bodleian Libraries Graduate Trainee Library Assistantfor 2022/23 are closing soon. Here are some answers from the current year’s library trainees to frequently asked questions about Applications and about the Traineeship.
FAQs about Applications
Do I need loads of experience in libraries before applying?What sort of experience is suitable?
As long as you can prove an interest in library work, extensive experience is not required. Being able to link the experience you have developed in past roles to key skills that are necessary in the library is an excellent way to prove your value with limited library work.
My only library experience was doing shelving in my university library before applying. What I did have was several previous part-time retail jobs that had experience I could draw on to answer interview questions. I wouldn’t worry about having extensive library experience before, any work experience is relevant and helpful! — Bodleian Law Library Trainee (Information Resources)
What might I be expected to know about libraries and information services?
It is more important to show an enthusiasm for working in libraries. And, although not required, an understanding of how to search databases and find academic resources would be beneficial. This could be a skill you have developed during your undergraduate degree, so don’t worry if you don’t have any professional experience.
If you currently have access to an academic or public library, I’d recommend speaking to the librarians and finding out more about the resources and other facilities they offer — there’s often more available than you might realise!
It is advantageous to have experience of library search tools, but this can be from your own university or local library. Oxford uses SOLO (Search Oxford Libraries Online). I had a play with it, so I was familiar with the system before my interview. — All Souls College Library Trainee
Do I need to already live in Oxford?
Not at all! Many of the trainees this year did not live in Oxford and several of them had never lived in Oxford before the traineeship. This year, there was even a group of trainees who moved to Oxford together and formed their own ‘Trainee House’. We have made a new page about Living in Oxford for more advice.
Not living in Oxford before or even during the traineeship is not a problem. Good public transport links (trains, buses, and a Park and Ride service) make it easy to get in and out of the city on a daily basis. I do this every day across county borders! — English Faculty Library Trainee
I wasn’t a student at Oxford. Does that put me at a disadvantage?
Absolutely not! Most of the trainees this year do not have a background with Oxford University and had not used Bodleian Libraries as a reader. Experience of Oxford University or Bodleian Libraries are not prerequisites and will not influence hiring decisions.
Can I apply if I graduated a while ago?
Of course! Some trainees in this year’s cohort applied whilst at university, but many others graduated several years ago. You do not have to apply directly after your graduation; the traineeship is also open to those considering a career change into libraries and information services too.
Absolutely! I graduated from my BA in 2018 and didn’t apply to the traineeship until 2021. After graduation, I spent two years living in London and working for an agency specialising in education. I had no idea I was interested in working libraries! The work as a trainee is really varied, so you learn a lot, whether you’ve just finished studying or have been working out of academic settings for a while. — St Edmund Hall Library Trainee
I already have an MA/MSc. Can I still apply?
Many of the trainees for 2021-22 already have an MA, MSc, or higher-level degrees. This is not a barrier to employment on this programme. However, the post is not suitable for anyone who already has an MA/MSc in Library Information Services/Information Management or equivalent.
Can I apply if I have already done a library traineeship or a library degree?
Unfortunately, no. These positions are intended for individuals who are keen to pursue a career in librarianship but would like a practical foundation in core librarianship skills at an academic institute, prior to potentially undertaking a library degree.
FAQs about the Traineeship
What do you do day-to-day as a library trainee?
This can vary library-to-library but all the trainees from this year will be posting A Day In The Life piece in the following months, so stay tuned!
What do the training sessions involve?
Training sessions cover a variety of topics, all aimed at helping you to gain skills in core librarianship skills and expand your knowledge of the various roles within libraries. During the training year, each of us will complete a Trainee Project, which we present in a Trainee Showcase at the end of the year.
In general, we have training sessions on Wednesday afternoons; these have varied from library and special collection visits, cataloguing software training, and talks from library professionals. You can read about some of our training sessions on the blog, including our recent trips to the Book Storage Facility in Swindon and the Weston Library’s Special Collections.
Are there opportunities to pursue specific interests as part of the traineeship?
Of course! If there is an area you would like to learn more about, you can always speak to your manager, who can help you set up an informational interview with a relevant department or help you to organise shadowing.
All trainees undertake a project, usually in the spring/summer. This provides an opportunity for you to develop your knowledge in a specific area and make an individual contribution to your library. Examples of former trainee projects – from curated exhibitions to ethical classification projects – can be found on the blog.
Are there any significant differences between Bodleian and college trainee positions?
It’s difficult to apply general rules to this, as every college functions in its own way, and even different libraries within the Bodleian have variations in everything from duties to hours to team sizes. Each role is unique. You can read about daily library life at the different libraries on the blog.
Whether you are in a college library or a Bodleian Library, you will not be missing out. Trainees visit some of the Bodleian libraries and college libraries during the training sessions, so you will have the opportunity to have an overview of the other trainees’ experience. In previous years, some trainees have organised ‘shadowing days’ in other trainees’ libraries.
You will be working as part of a larger organisational structure, in the Bodleian Libraries, and there may be the opportunity to work in different libraries for some roles. Bodleian Libraries positions are in one or more subject-specific libraries, so you’ll get some experience dealing with a very particular range of resources, while college libraries have a bit of everything, and handle things like acquisitions in a less centralised way. In my experience, you aren’t expected to have any prior knowledge of the area you end up in – my background is in medieval literature. — Bodleian Law Library / Sainsbury Business Library
College libraries, in general, have smaller teams. This means that you get to do a bit of everything. Many colleges have their own special collections, so you may have the opportunity to gain specialist experience with preservation and curating. You may be able to have some experience of being part of an Oxford college, but this varies college to college. Generally, you get free lunch, which is always a plus. Colleges are less busy out of term time in terms of customer interaction and some close during the vacations. — All Souls College Trainee
What happens after the traineeship?
If you are keen to pursue a career in librarianship, one option would be to apply for a place on a Masters in Librarianship/Information Management, though this is by no means necessary at the beginning of your career. You will hear more about the different MA/MSc courses during your training sessions so you can decided what is best for you. Alternatively, you can take the experience gained and apply for a position in a library, such as a Library Assistant role.
Any final bits of advice?
If this role sounds at all appealing to you, it is worth applying for.
Being a librarian isn’t just for people who studied English! Our trainee group this year come from a wide variety of subjects, including Medicine, Law, Politics, and Music.
These are answers written by the current years’ trainees themselves to FAQs we have been messaged, or which had ourselves when applying and are subjective to trainees’ individual experience. You can read the Bodleian Libraries’ answers to FAQs about the Traineeship on the Bodleian Libraries website.
We are pleased to say that we are recruiting trainees for 2021-2022 and details of the role and how to apply can be found on our University job pages. If you interested in working in one of our libraries and learning about the wider world of library and information work then do consider applying.
Many of us on the Bodleian Libraries traineeship may be considering undertaking the MA or PG Diploma in Library and Information Studies at some point in the future. I hope that this article will be interesting and useful for the current cohort, as well as any future trainees who may be reading this (or anyone engaged in a relentless Google search regarding doing a Library Masters, or related, course).
The first thing to consider is which institutions in the UK actually offer the MA degree. The main ones are:
There are also other courses which have a focus on different aspects of librarianship: for example, Library and Information Management at Manchester Metropolitan University has a specialist option unit focusing on Health Librarianship, “devised in conjunction with the NHS Library and Knowledge Services North to address a specific industry need for more library and information professionals in this sector.”
I found this quite interesting because it allows you to consider how dynamic different aspects of librarianship can be outside of the academic and public spheres:
Some other slightly more unconventional programmes of study that might also be of interest:
The Institute of English Studies (part of the School of Advanced Study, itself a postgraduate wing of the University of London) offers an MA/MRes in the History of the Book. It’s specifically geared towards those with an interest in the rare book trade and has an internship with an antiquarian bookseller as one of its components. They also run the London Rare Books School (LRBS), a series of five-day, intensive courses on a variety of book-related topics taught in and around Senate House, University of London. This can be attended as part of the MA or separately (it’s also possible to apply for a bursary to cover some of the cost of attending).
Similarly, the University of Edinburgh has a one-year taught MSc in Book History and Material Culture, which is run by the Centre for the History of the Book (CHB), founded as an “international and interdisciplinary centre for advanced research into all aspects of the material culture of the text, from manuscripts to electronic texts.” It is accredited by CILIP and seems to have a particular focus on special collections management in terms of conservation, digitisation and display.
The Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing have a comprehensive listing relating to these types of courses, which you can find here.
When we think of funding a postgraduate course, the first thing that comes to mind is usually:
a) There isn’t any or b) I’ll need to take out loans, loans and more loans !!
It is true that the main source of funding available is through loans (including the Postgraduate Master’s Loan, which is maximum about £11,000).
However, I have discovered that although there is certainly a scarcity of funding, there are in fact several options available to supplement a loan/savings.
A lot of the institutions above offer PG scholarships and will have them available to search on their site. Once you have accepted an offer, you will often be given the option of opting in automatically to be considered for certain scholarships, and others you may need to apply for separately.
The Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding Online is a funding resource for current and prospective postgraduate students studying at UK universities, focusing on unusual or obscure sources of funding from private charities that offer bursaries and grants to students to fund PG study. It was founded by students who themselves won many of these charity awards as a mean of funding their PG education, and contains a database of nearly 1,000 sources of this type of funding. The database is constantly being updated and added to. It also promises to be “a methodology rather than simply a finding tool,” containing reams of information on not only how to find funding that is applicable to your circumstances, but also the best way to go about applying to be considered for it. Oxford has a full subscription to the AGO, so trainees can set up an account and access the information for free.
The criteria states that “Applicants must normally be under 25 on 1st September 2020, resident in the UK, and classified as paying UK tuition fees.” However, if you are between 25 and 30 and want to apply, it says to “please discuss your application with the relevant Course Director and Administrator,” so it seems as though someone who is 25-30 may still be in with a chance !
They also have a really useful PDF which gives a listing of many other places to look for funding and can be found at the bottom of this page.
There are way more options and resources out there than you might think at first glance, and I hope that anyone reading this has found it helpful as a starting point.
We are now recruiting graduate trainees for the 2020/21 intake, starting in September 2020. Details about the roles and how to apply can be found here. Further information about the trainee scheme can be found here. The closing date for applications is 27th January 2020.
Rhiannon and Evie (Old Bodleian trainees) recently attended the CILIP New Professionals Day, held at CILIP headquarters in central London. The day was a worthwhile introduction to CILIP as a network of Library and Information professionals, and a great way to find out more about potential career paths and job sectors – and of course there were some freebies in there!
It was really useful and
reassuring to meet other new professionals who were all at very different stages in terms of their roles, their interests, and their educa-
tion. From a historian who is completing his masters while working as a Roving Support Assistant at Coventry University, to a former zoologist who is now Local Studies Librarian at Cheshire County Archives, there were so many different backgrounds and career paths amongst the attendees. It was very helpful to chat to people who have recently completed a library qualification, and to get their opinions on different universities, the Postgraduate Diploma versus the full Masters, and which modules they most enjoyed.
The talks were generally very interesting
and gave plenty of insight into the vast scope of the Library and Information field, covering sectors and employers ranging from corporate banks to humanitarian organisations, with employees and former employers of the NHS, Civil Service, and Microsoft represented.
One of the most exciting talks was about the role of the prison librarian, which debunked many misconceptions surrounding the job, and gave an honest and fair assessment of the challenges and rewards of working in a prison library. We were also surprised and gladdened to hear about the many charities and organisations providing support and funding for prisoners who want to further their literacy and education. It was gratifying to learn what an incredible difference prison libraries can make to children whose parents are in prison, by encouraging parents and children to engage with books and learn more together.
Evie also enjoyed the talk about Library and Information professionals working in the Civil Service, finding it inspiring to learn about the pivotal role of LIS professionals in researching, organising, and collecting data for important governmental reports and projects, such as the report into the Grenfell Tower fire. Again, the talk worked to counter pre-existing assumptions about working in the Civil Service as an LIS professional, and offered an intriguing introduction to the sector as a potential avenue for our future careers. The speaker was clearly a passionate individual with a love for the Library Services and this was particularly inspiring.
One of the most important things we took from the talks was the understanding that a career does not have to be a linear trajectory ‘up the ranks’ in one sector or organisation – it is always possible to transfer skills as an LIS professional from one sector to another, always branching out to new opportunities in different environments, or to build on your experience in one area and specialise further. The event also gave me a better understanding of what sectors might not appeal to me, as well – business and corporate sector information work, as an example. It was helpful to learn more about CILIP and their role as a supportive network for people in the field, and to find out about the events and qualifications available to CILIP members as they progress in their careers, such as their Chartership programme.
After the New Professionals Day, both of us feel much better equipped to articulate our own priorities and desires for the LIS careers we would like to build, and more informed about the realities of some key sectors within the field. We are excited to share this with our fellow trainees who weren’t able to attend!