Farewell from the 2018-19 Trainees

As the 2018-19 trainee scheme draws to a close, we have listed our immediate plans for the future in this blog post. Hopefully this will be useful to anyone thinking of applying to the scheme, or for the next cohort of trainees to have some sense of where they might be heading in a year’s time. All the best to the new trainees starting in September, and good luck to any future applicants to the scheme.

 

Alex Plane, New College

I’m going to be doing the full-time Library and Information Studies MA at UCL, with a focus on manuscripts, palaeography and historical bibliography. I’ll also be working part-time at New College Library as Special Collections Curatorial Assistant.

 

Amy Douglas, St Hugh’s College

I’ve loved my trainee year at St Hugh’s – the work has been diverse and interesting, my colleagues (and the cats) are lovely, and the training sessions have been really useful. I’ll be staying on at St Hugh’s for another 2 years as a Library Assistant, while doing the long-distance Library and Information Services Management MA course at the University of Sheffield. After that, who knows? Might stay in Oxford, or might try and find a Librarian position back home in Scotland. I’ve enjoyed working in an academic library with a modern working collection, so I’ll probably look for roles in similar libraries (but won’t limit myself). The trainee scheme has taught me a lot, and has been an excellent gateway into the profession. Made some friends too – I’m sure we’ll help one another through the masters.

 

Flapjack the cat in a tree

Admiral Flapjack, one of the St Hugh’s College cats.

 

Ben Gable, Sackler Library

I’ll be staying on at the Sackler in a newly-created post.

 

Beth Morgan, Bodleian Reader Services

After a fantastic year in Oxford, I have decided to move to Sheffield to study an MA in Librarianship full-time. I hope to get a part-time job in an academic library alongside this.

 

Elizabeth Piper, Oxford Union Library

I’ll be at the Oxford Union Library as a graduate trainee for another year.

 

Emma Gregory, Sainsbury Library

I really enjoyed my time at the Sainsbury Library. My colleagues were all so welcoming and made me feel part of the team instantly. They were always happy to answer my questions and help me whenever I was stuck. The trainee scheme was a great way to meet other people as well. It was particularly helpful when moving to a new city as it’s great to have other people in the same boat to talk to. I finished my traineeship at the Sainsbury Library at the end of May and moved to St Hilda’s College where I am now the Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach Officer there. A bit of a change from libraries, but I’m really enjoying my new job and having new challenges.

I learnt a great a deal throughout the year, learnt new skills, and met some lovely people. One main tip, if you do apply, don’t be daunted by subject specialist libraries! The Sainsbury Library is a business library, and I’ve never studied Business or Economics and I really enjoyed my time there. If you’re interested in libraries, books, the University of Oxford, definitely apply for the graduate scheme! You never know where you’ll end up!

 

Emmy Ingle, Lady Margaret Hall

I’m planning to stay at LMH Library. I’m excited to keep working on our accessibility and start thinking about new exhibitions.

 

Hannah Thompsett, All Souls College

Next year I will be studying for the Sheffield University MA Library and Information Services Management, part time via distance learning. I will also be working mornings as a Library Assistant at University College, Oxford (commonly referred to as Univ), just over the road from where I am currently based, so I’m not moving far.

 

Harry Bark, St John’s College

I’m going to be taking up a position with a mental health charity in August.

 

Jenna Meek, Bodleian Law Library

After a brilliant year at the Bodleian Law Library, I will miss all my colleagues and fellow trainees in Oxford lots when I return back home to Glasgow to study for a MSc in Information and Library Studies at the University of Strathclyde. I am hoping to be able to get a part-time job in libraries while studying full-time for my masters, and I am very excited but also slightly apprehensive about what the future will bring – wish me luck!

 

Jennifer Garner, Bodleian Reader Services

I’m now working as a library assistant at a faculty library in Oxford, and studying the Sheffield library masters course via distance learning.

 

Katie Day, Taylor Institution

I finished the Taylor traineeship early, at the end of June, in order to start my new, permanent part-time position as Library Assistant across the Taylor, Sackler, and Oriental Institute Libraries, which I have been working in for a month already! Come September, I will be adding studying at UCL, as I take my MA (part-time) in Library and Information Studies. I’ve had a wonderful time as a trainee, and I’m so excited about where I’m going next!

 

Lauren Ward, Bodleian Social Science Library

I will be working as a Senior Library Assistant at St. Anne’s College Library, while completing my LIS MA part-time at UCL come September. Having been completely new to libraries when I started as a trainee, I would have never had the skills or confidence to go into my new role or further study without the traineeship, and am very grateful for the year I’ve had!

 

Leanne Grainger, Christ Church

I have really enjoyed my graduate trainee year at Christ Church Library and the experience really confirmed for me that I really do want to work in Library and Information Services. As such I applied for an MA in Library and Information Services Management at the University of Sheffield, which I will be starting this September. This will be through distance learning and I will be studying part-time over two years. I am also really fortunate to have the opportunity to continue working full-time at Christ Church Library as a Library Assistant for the next year. Both working full-time and studying part-time will be a challenge, but I am really glad I can be working in a library alongside my studies as I think it will keep me motivated and hopefully what I learn in one will help me in the other!

 

Rebecca Leeman, University Archives

I’m going to work on a project in Croatia, ‘Mapping and documentation of industrial heritage’, in Ivanic-Grad. It’s organised by Culture Hub Croatia, in partnership with Friends of Heritage and European Heritage Volunteers. They organise short placements around Europe for young heritage professionals. I suppose it’s a kind of chance to use archival skills in a setting where they are trying to develop a public profile of their heritage.

 

Rebecca presents at the trainee showcase

Rebecca delivering her presentation at the trainee showcase in July 2019.

 

Ross Jones, Bodleian History Faculty Library

I have really enjoyed the Bodleian Graduate Library Traineeship; everyone has been incredibly supportive and receptive, and I will miss my fellow trainees who are leaving Oxford to pursue opportunities elsewhere – I wish them luck!

During the traineeship, my nisus has been toward achieving a place on a library-related Masters programme, so I was pleased to learn earlier this year that I have been accepted to study Library and Information Services Management at Sheffield University. The course is a distance-learning programme taught on a part time basis, which means I can continue to live and work in Oxford. Having recently secured a permanent position here as a Library Assistant, I am a little apprehensive over the prospect of balancing professional and academic commitments, but after speaking to some of my colleagues, I realise I am not alone in this respect!

 

Sally Hamer, Wolfson College

I am going on to UCL to do my MA in Library and Information Studies full-time, for which I will be commuting from Oxford while continuing to look for library jobs.

 

Amy Douglas, St Hugh’s College Library

Me sitting on a window ledge in the Upper Reading Room. Large windows behind me. Books on shelves underneath the window ledge.Me in the Upper Reading Room

My name’s Amy and I’m the graduate trainee at the Howard Piper Library at St Hugh’s College. I moved to Oxford from a small town on the west coast of Scotland, where I had lived most of my life so far. It was a big move – I didn’t know anyone in England and had only briefly visited Oxford twice before. Although I desperately miss tattie scones and haggis – and don’t get me started on the awful tap water – I really enjoy living here. There’s so much to see, and there are always events going on. And I think I’ve finally got the hang of Oxford’s jargon, after spending a few weeks under the impression that ‘battels’ was just a spelling mistake.

I recently completed an undergraduate degree in Digital Media and Information Studies, a CILIP accredited course, at the University of Glasgow. In my final year, I worked part-time at various public libraries in my local area. There I received a solid grounding in core library tasks, such as shelving and dealing with all manner of enquiries at the front desk. One morning I helped two grooms from entirely separate weddings print off their speeches, within an hour of one another, for weddings later that day. I filled in a Universal Credit application for a man who had never used a computer before, ran Lego and board game clubs, worked alone at smaller branches, and borrowed a mountain of books because it was impossible not to. I even got to stamp books out to people – we had no self-service machines, so circulation was entirely manual. I loved all of it, and the experience cemented my desire to pursue librarianship as a career. Books have always been my thing, so it seemed like the right path to take.

The Upper Reading Room.

Although St Hugh’s College was founded in 1886, the current library building was opened in 1936. It currently holds around 75,000 books on a wide range of subjects, all classified under the Dewey Decimal system. We also have a modest rare book collection. I won’t provide an account of the history of St Hugh’s and the library here, but I recommend reading into it. St Hugh’s may be one of the younger colleges, but it has a fascinating past nonetheless, involving women’s suffrage and its time as a military hospital specialising in head injuries during the Second World War.

The library team sit at a table repairing books.Holly, me and Nora at our book repair workshop, delivered by the wonderful Victoria Stevens.

There are only three of us in the library team, so I have quite a few responsibilities. I have a daily checklist of things to do, such as shelving, posting on our social media accounts, checking the CCTV for people setting off the book alarm at the door and walking around the library to make sure everything is okay. I empty the two book bins every morning and afternoon (we staff the library 9-5 on weekdays but it’s open 24/7), and as term goes on the situation gets more silly – the students stuff the first bin until it’s overflowing, but when I open the second bin there’s hardly anything in it. At the end of term, they pile the books on the floor outside of the bins. I also undertake more time-intensive tasks and projects, such as processing new books and redesigning the library posters.

Two overflowing book bins, with books piled up outside them.In the library, no one can hear you scream internally.

One big project I’ve been working on since November is reclassification. Essentially, over the last eight or so years (and undoubtedly at least a couple of years more ahead) the books’ shelfmarks have been gradually changed from an old version of Dewey Decimal Classification to Dewey 23, the most recent. This will move a few books around to different subject areas, but more importantly will give them extra numbers and letters in their shelfmark. This will make them so much easier to shelve and find. It’s one of my favourite things to do at work – figuring out the correct shelfmark feels like an investigation, and Dewey is my favourite classification system. Some of the books are simple enough to classify, while others require a bit more deliberation (and could fit in more than one place). Relabelling hundreds of books can get a little tiresome though.

Me wrapped in a blanket.Testing out some of the new study aids on a cold day in the office.

I intended to write and publish this introductory blog post not long after I started the traineeship five months ago, but I’ve been so busy that I put it on the back burner for ages. My initial concept was to write down my fears about this job and then, further down the line, write another post to assess how far I’d come. Thankfully I can say that I am not rubbish at book processing – I’m awful at wrapping presents, so this was a major concern – and while I have seen a few spiders around the library (such as the time I had to dust away an entire cobweb with a spider in the centre, on some bookshelves), none have literally jumped out at me.

The library team, wearing Christmas jumpers, standing in front of a Christmas tree.The library team on the College’s Christmas Jumper Day.

Working in a college library means being part of the college community. At lunch we sit and chat with staff from other departments in the dining hall (as we eat our free meals!). There are numerous events throughout the year to attend, such as: staff coffee mornings, bake sales and raffles, Christmas lunch, Christmas tree decorating, and gatherings at the Principal’s Lodgings. One particularly exciting development was the arrival of two kittens, who were just four months old when the College adopted them. They are brother and sister: the male ginger is called Professor Biscuits, and the female tabby is Admiral Flapjack (though I just call her Jack). They are very sociable and adore all the attention from staff and students alike. Once cat flaps are installed around college, they will be let loose and allowed to roam (almost) wherever they please.

A ginger cat sitting on a desk. I'm sitting at my office desk and looking at it.A tabby kitten lying on the floor.

Once I have completed the trainee scheme, I plan to undertake a postgraduate degree in librarianship. I’ve been exceedingly lucky to have been asked to remain at St Hugh’s for a further two years as a full-time library assistant, so I will do my masters part-time distance alongside this. After that, who knows!

Bethan Morgan, Reader Services

Hello! My name is Bethan and I am one of the two trainees based at the Reader Services in the old Bodleian this year. The Bodleian Library is the main humanities research library, and covers subjects including English, History, Theology, Philosophy, Patristics, and Classics. It is also the oldest in Europe, as it first opened to scholars in 1602.

An unusually quiet Old School’s Quadrangle 

As trainees, we get to do a variety of tasks in all parts of the library. So far these have included:

The Main Enquiry Desk : This involves answering enquiries that come into the Reader Services via phone and email. These can range from straight-forward questions about how the library works, to requests to track down obscure books or journal articles. There is something very satisfactory when you are able to provide a useful answer for the enquirer, although occasionally it is best to simply forward the email on to a more informed  department.

Delivery banksperson:  Almost 12 million items in the Bodleian’s collection are held in the Book Storage Facility (BSF) in Swindon. As a result, boxes of books need to be transported daily. As banksperson, this task involves guiding the delivery van into the Quad, and attempting to prevent any preoccupied tourists from being run over (and probably ruining their pictures at the same time). We then transport the boxes to the appropriate reading rooms for the books to be processed and displayed at the collection points.

Upper/Lower Reading Rooms: As well as providing general help to readers (how to work the printer/connect to the Wi-Fi are common themes), this also comprises of shelving books and processing the incoming and outgoing deliveries. However, I would say my favourite part is going into the Duke Humfrey’s Library. This is the oldest and most impressive reading room in the library, as it dates back to the 15th Century. It was also used as the library in the Harry Potter films, so now I feel I can tell people that I essentially work at Hogwarts.

The Duke Humfrey’s Library in all its’ medieval glory

The Proscholium: This basically involves sitting at the front desk by the entrance. It is actually more enjoyable than it sounds because of the variety of enquires you get from both tourists and readers. As we are currently in the first term, you often find new students looking slightly lost and confused. This is understandable as the Bodleian is quite intimidating, so I think being friendly and helpful when they first arrive can make all the difference – and then they may even come back!

I have also had the opportunity to attend different talks and events – for example, I went to London with a few of the other trainees to attend the Internet Library International conference with NLPN. This was a great experience because we got to attend some really interesting panel discussions (although the free food was worth it alone). I have also been to a few events run by the Bodleian: ‘Library Conversations’ with Richard Ovenden (an open discussion with the senior staff about the Bodleian’s strategy and future developments); the ‘Digital Shift’ research meeting (a series of presentations about how the Bodleian can keep up with rapidly evolving technologies); and an interesting lecture and exhibition about Shelley’s Frankenstein. I have tried to go to as many different things as possible to make the most of my time here, and hope to continue to do so.

Overall I have really enjoyed working here so far, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year holds.

Elizabeth Piper, Oxford Union Society Library

Good morrow! I’m Elizabeth and I’m the trainee at the Oxford Union Society Library.

It’s an older photo sir, but it checks out…

The Union is cunningly hidden off Cornmarket Street with another entrance on St. Michael’s Street and acts rather like a private club for its’ members- people come here to work away from colleges or distractions from roommates and the like, although the Union bar is in the room next door so distractions are never that far away! The library houses about 46,000 books which makes it one of Oxford’s smaller libraries, but it makes up for that with some incredible murals and a painted ceiling from the pre-Raphaelites showing scenes from Tennyson’s Morte d’Arthur. Unlike other libraries, it holds the largest collection of travel guides and fiction (outside of the Bodleian, naturally!), but unlike the Bod, all of these are borrowable.

Oxford Union Society Library
This is the Old Library which was the old Debating Chamber and now the Main Library

There are four of us who work here and we have the luxury to have an actual office just off the library, so we’re allowed tea at our desks! This is a luxury I never had when working in Christ Church, where I worked for a few years in the Main Library, and also producing an item-level catalogue for one of the special collections called The Portal Papers which is a collection from the Chief of the Air Staff of the Royal Air Force from World War Two. These are the papers that really sparked my interest in libraries. I had previously served in the RAF and seeing how records that were classified as Top Secret had been protected and kept hidden away, just waiting for a time when they were able to be used and read again is absolutely fascinating to me. Some of the papers had not been looked at since Portal looked at them and finding that information for the first time just hiding in plain sight in a grey or blue archival box looking completely innocuous on a shelf is, I think, quite exciting. And that is just one collection- knowing that libraries are full of collections just like this just waiting to be found made me apply for the Masters programme in Library and Information Studies at Aberystwyth which I am currently doing via distance learning at the moment.

Sir Lancelot mural
Nice detail of the murals

My days in the library are generally spent learning super in-depth how to catalogue, although there are other duties as well. I am the minutes secretary for the Library Committee which decides which books should be kept and which to be withdrawn- there is a “one-in: one-out” policy when it comes to acquisitions here. The members are in charge of our policies, budgets and acquisitions as a general rule, and members can range from a first-year undergraduate to a senior life-member who has been a part of the Union for the last seventy years. It is a style of management I haven’t come across before in Oxford libraries. The other bonus to working here is getting to go to the debates or to hear the speaker events- only recently, I got to see Jon Stewart and Dave Chappelle while they were at the Union which was incredibly exciting.

All in all, this is a great place to work! 🙂

Marjolein Platjee, Weston Library

Hello everyone! I’m Marjolein and I am the new digital archivist trainee at the Weston Library. The Weston Library, or originally the New Bodleian Library, was built in the 1930’s in order to house all the books and collections that no longer fit in the Old Bodleian. However, by 2010 the Bodleian’s holding’s had outgrown this building as well. The decision was made to move the majority of the material to Swindon and to completely renovate the New Bodleian. The library reopened under the name Weston Library in 2015, and is now home to the special collections. It has two large reading rooms where readers can consult the material in these collections.

The Weston Library

So now you know where I work, but I bet you are wondering what it is I actually do. Well, I have a job that offers quite a bit of variety, which makes it exciting. On Monday mornings you can find me in one of the two reading rooms of the Weston Library to answer questions that readers have, give out archival materials and books etc.

I am also being taught how to catalogue both digital, paper and hybrid collections. This involves making a boxlist (where you list what is in each box of a collection brought into the archive), creating a cataloguing proposal, arranging the material in a way that is logical for readers who wish to consult it in the future, cataloguing it and publishing it online. So far I have really enjoyed making boxlists, as you never quite know what material you come across… The most exotic items I have encountered are undoubtedly temporary tattoos and multi-coloured, gold inscribed corkscrews. That’s right, archiving doesn’t just involve books and piles of loose paper.

Me getting materials out of the stacks whilst wearing the protective and “ever so stylish” Bodleian bobcap.

Speaking of publishing catalogues online, I am currently helping my colleagues to reformat the XML (i.e. code) behind the online catalogues of the special collections. We are doing this to transfer them to a new, better system, which will help readers navigate the online collections more easily.

Next to this, I also spend quite a bit of time digitizing media such as CD’s, cassette tapes etc. using forensic software so that the information is preserved for posterity.

Apart from all of the above, I also work on the Bodleian web archive, where we archive entire websites so anyone can still consult them after their owners have taken them offline. We are currently writing a Libguide to accompany our collection, to help readers navigate the collection and to refer them to other web archives that might be of interest to them.

I am really enjoying my time here and definitely am not getting bored with all the exciting and interesting tasks I have to do. I cannot wait to see what else there is to learn!

Emma Gregory, Sainsbury Library

Hi there! I’m Emma and I am the new trainee at the Sainsbury Library at the Saïd Business School.The Business School was opened in 2002, so the building and the library is one of the newest in Oxford. The Business School has two locations; Egrove Park and Park End, where I currently work.

At the Saïd Business School

The Business School offers a variety of courses in business, such as the MBA (Master of Business Administration), Law and Finance, Major Programme Management, and MFE (Master in  Financial Economics), to name a few. The library is split into two levels; the upper floor for silent study, and the lower floor (where the main library desk is) for a mixture of quiet study areas and group work spaces.

The Upper Reading Room

The library offers many textbooks on all areas of business, as well as several journals and a daily Financial Times. We also have a large number of databases that students can access to research different companies and their financial and economic data. The newer members of staff, myself included, are  currently undergoing training on these databases so that we can help students with their enquiries and research.

Some of the books we offer at the library

My days are really mixed and no two are the same! Here’s a quick overview of what I did yesterday:

8.45am – Arrive at work. Today, it’s my turn to set up the front desk for the day. I turn on the computer and the lights, check the photocopiers, re-shelve books that have been returned, and make sure the library is ready for our users.

9am – The day is split into two for the desk duty; the morning and afternoon shift. I usually work one of these a day. I’m working the morning shift today which is 9am to 1pm. The enquiry desk can be challenging at times, as I don’t always know the answers to the questions asked of me, but help is at hand! My colleagues are really patient and helpful, and I’m learning a lot from their answers and training. This morning I had enquiries about how to use the printing system, where to find particular books, and which databases were best to look at for researching different aspects of a certain company. We’ve recently finished welcoming this year’s under- and postgraduate students, so the library is pretty busy now.

1pm – Lunch time. The Saïd Business School has amazing facilities, lots of different options for lunch, and the students are well cared for by all the staff here. I have a free coffee every day too! Yum!

The Cafe offers a wide variety of snacks, and we also have a restaurant that provides hot and cold meals.

2pm – This afternoon, I received a new copy of the Economist and two other journals. As part of my role, it is my responsibility to prepare and process the journals so that they are ‘shelf – ready’. This involves registering the journals, attaching a bar code and preparing security labels for them. I then process the older copies and store them upstairs.

The Economist, one of our weekly journals.

3pm – The Saïd Business School is going through some re-branding so I’m working my way through changing the signs around the library. This week I’m working on changing the labels on the journal holders upstairs. I’m also going through them and making sure they’re all in the correct order.

Part of the re-branding involves me checking the journal labels upstairs.

4.30pm – Throughout the day I make sure all the books are correctly re-shelved and the library is looking tidy and suitable for our users.

5pm – Home time (already!). The days here zoom by for me. I feel like I blink and it’s the end of the day!

I love working here at the Sainsbury Library. It’s really modern with lots of green spaces available for both staff and students. When the weather permits, I like to sit outside for lunch and my breaks.

One of the courtyards around the Business School

I’m learning a lot about search techniques and understanding all the different databases that we have so that I can help the students the best way I can. The days are incredibly varied and I am encouraged and helped by my colleagues everyday. Everyone here has so much knowledge that they’re willing to pass on – I’m well looked after! I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of the year has in store for me!

One of the art installations around the School

Leanne Grainger, Christ Church Library

 

Hi! I’m Leanne, Christ Church Library‘s new Graduate Trainee. I have a background in Mathematics and Physics, and have moved to Oxford from Bristol where I had been a Postgraduate Researcher in Complexity Sciences. Over the past few years I had been finding that Academic research was not for me and started searching for careers I might enjoy. After doing numerous career quizzes, I found Academic Librarian and Public Librarian popping up as my top results. I have always loved books and reading, and I spent much of my childhood at my public library with my nose in a book or taking out as many books as I could! But that’s not really enough on it’s own to embark on such a career change – so I did some reading. From careers sites, job descriptions, to this very blog(!), I found myself really excited about making information accessible, maintaining the current and growing amount of information in the world and about how to approach the new challenge in the Library and Information Sector, of digital information.

The next step was to try it out and I began working as a Library Assistant at a Public Library;  Bristol Central Library. Here I fell in love with library work. I enjoyed the day-to-day tasks, I found assisting library users really rewarding and my colleagues were incredibly supportive and lovely. From there I wanted to continue to expand my experience and continue my journey to becoming an Information Professional. I am really excited and grateful to find myself working at Christ Church Library, and to be a part of the Bodleian Library Trainee Scheme which I know will do just that.

The Upper Library

Christ Church Library houses incredible Special Collections of rare books and manuscripts in its Upper Library. These collections are often consulted by Researchers from outside Oxford as well as within. The space itself is beautiful and still remains breathtaking to me. I have been awestruck to have come across first editions of Darwin’s Origin of Species, Newton’s Principia and Alice in Wonderland signed by Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson) himself, Queen Elizabeth I’s personal velvet covered Bible, a tiny 11th century manuscript Book of Psalms designed to be worn on a belt, and my absolute favourite – a pop-up human anatomy book from 1660! I’ll have the opportunity to work on a project involving the Special Collections over the coming year and I am interested to see what I’ll uncover!

View from my staff desk in the East Library

My time so far at the library has been fantastic and I felt a part of the team right away. It has included a big summer book move where we moved every single book in the modern collection (a very good way to get to know the books!), processing interesting new and donated books which are constantly arriving, and now that the students are back it’s gotten even busier and I have been making up welcome packs and showing them the library ropes. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the year, and I’ll be sure to add updates here as new and exciting things continue to happen at the library!

Sally Hamer, Wolfson College Library

Hello everyone. I’m Sally, and I am spending my Traineeship at Wolfson College. I am originally from Germany, but I moved to England five years ago to study History at the University of Essex. It was there that I initially thought I would aim to become an archivist. Over my time at Uni that goal became somewhat buried under the cumulative stress of studying and forging a path for myself, and I completely forgot this was something I had originally wanted to do. After my undergrad, I moved to Oxford and decided to pursue postgraduate study, settling on a Postgraduate Diploma in Anthropology from Oxford Brookes University. After the stressful last year I had had during my undergrad, my year at Brookes reawakened my passion for academic learning and the preservation of knowledge. This is when I realised that I wanted to work in Librarianship, and surround myself with the environments and people who had brought me so much joy while engaging with them.

I then undertook an internship at Magdalen College Library in order to find out whether Library work was really for me, and found that I loved everything about it. My supervisors there were incredibly kind and generous with their time and knowledge, and it is through their guidance that I arrived at Wolfson as part of the Bodleian Library Trainee Scheme.

The beautiful Wolfson grounds.
From the College website: https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/graduate/colleges/wolfson-college

My team at Wolfson is very small, comprising only of me and the Librarian, and as such I essentially fulfill the role of Assistant Librarian. This suits me really well, as it means that I am entrusted with a fair amount of work and responsibility, while still being encouraged to engage as much as possible with any and all training opportunities that cross my path. In my first month here I have already attended talks on Open Access, assisted the Bodleian’s Education Librarian with teaching, and joined a Resource Workshop at the Social Sciences Library, alongside the official training sessions provided by the Bodleian. This is allowing me to gain a broad insight into Information and Library Sciences, and to understand what topics I am more interested in than others.

Our Jessup Reading Room.

Aside from my day-to-day tasks, I am largely responsible for project-managing the processing and storage of several large bequests made to the College, comprising several thousand books. It is my job to make sure these items are sent to external cataloging, then processed and stored at Wolfson. I understand that completing this project will take me the better part of my year here, as more books arrive from the external cataloging on a fortnightly basis for me to get on with as speedily as I can.
I’ll let you into a secret : this is my favourite job here at Wolfson! I find the processing of books very satisfying, and I get to have a look at dozens of fascinating volumes every day, so I could not be happier.

The boxes and shelves in my office holding items from bequests to the College waiting to be processed and shelved.

Wolfson is a Graduate College situated slightly outside the city centre, and as such benefits hugely from quiet roads and beautiful surroundings. Working at a Graduate College is wonderful, as everyone you engage with on a daily level is deeply committed and passionate about their research, making for highly interesting and varied conversation and engagement. Wolfson is committed to its values of community and egalitarianism, and I have definitely felt very welcome here. So far, I am really enjoying my time at Wolfson and at training with the other Trainees – I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year will bring!

Katie Day, Taylor Institution Library


Me in the Enquiries Room

Hi everyone! I’m Katie, and I’m the new Graduate Library Trainee based at the Taylorian this year. I’ve only recently finished my Bachelor’s at the University of Chicago, where I’d been living for five years. I had some experience with the library work at UChicago, but confined to the Google Books Project rather than direct reader interactions, so my experience of work in the day-to-day ebb and flow of a library was pretty limited.

The Taylor Institution Library, or the Taylorian, as it’s also known, is on St. Giles, at kitty-corner with the Ashmolean, and the Sackler Library the next road over. It was established in 1845, when architect Sir Robert Taylor left a bequest for a centre for the study of modern European languages, which the university then placed in the east wing of the building built to house both the Taylor and the Randolph Galleries (which later became the Ashmolean); the library was officially opened in 1849.


Exterior of the Taylor Library in the early years

In 1938 there was an extension made along St. Giles’ in order to accommodate the increasing collections that had resulted from the official establishment in 1903 of the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages, which have been centred around the Taylorian ever since. The latest growth of the library has been in the past five years, with its’ enveloping of the Slavonic and East European collections (previously housed in Wellington Square).

The Main Reading Room from the balcony

Here, amongst over 70,000 books, we now have both the Western and Eastern European languages collections, alongside the Slavonic collections and the collections for Linguistics, Film Studies, and Women’s Studies, all spread between over a dozen different cataloguing systems that have all grown on themselves. My previous library was all Library of Congress (LC), so learning them all has been rather a trial by fire! I’ve yet to get irreparably tangled, but I won’t get cocky just yet.

At the Taylorian, my tasks have been pretty split between the Circulation Desk on the ground floor (come say hello!) and the Enquiries Desk on the first, next to the Main Reading Room. Amongst many other tasks, so far I’ve processed the BSF (Book Storage Facility) deliveries from Swindon, processed incoming periodicals, prepped new DVDs for shelving, designed flyers for the new library tours, and (to my great excitement) gathered materials for an upcoming exhibition in the Voltaire Room on the White Rose group. All this alongside the day-to-day of the library, getting to know my co-workers and fellow trainees, and the group trainee training sessions out at Osney, where Bodleian departments like Staff Development, IT, etcetera, are based. There’s never been one day the same as the next yet, and now term has begun, that looks as though it will only continue. So far I’ve been having a wonderful time; here’s looking forward to a great rest of the year.

Emmy Ingle, Lady Margaret Hall Library

Me in the very intriguing Briggs Room, where the rare books live.

Hello, I’m Emmy and I’m the current graduate trainee at Lady Margaret Hall Library, one of the college libraries. For my first post, I thought I’d give an introduction to how our library and its unique personality fit into the 100+ Oxford libraries. I’ll also tell you a bit about my own interests and experiences within libraries and information, which are a little different from an academic library.

‘Filled with volumes of every kind, handsomely bound without, and full of useful learning within…’

 

…is how an early student described the original LMH library. It’s large for a college library, and there is a historical reason for this. LMH was founded in 1878 to allow women to study at the university; previously, colleges only admitted men. Early LMH students were heavily discouraged from visiting the Bodleian Library (where they might encounter boys!) and consequently they relied on a comprehensively stocked college library. One of the things I like about the college is how they continue their history of access and inclusivity, for example through the Foundation Year programme.

1879: the college’s first nine students. [Source: LMH]
This slightly larger collection includes  a rare books room (having lived surrounded by the history of the Pendle Witches for the last few years, I’m excited to meet the witchcraft books). However, we’re still smaller than the faculty libraries, and being part of a small team means I get to do a bit of everything – from the expected (turning the photocopier off and on again) to the more surprising (competing on the library’s Giant Jenga team and definitely not cheating).

LMH Library from across the wildflower meadow.

So how did I end up here? Saturday afternoons spent helping out at my local Sue Ryder shop were my introduction to systematising written materials: sipping tea in the stock room, I’d sort bin bags of dusty-smelling books into alphabetised piles. Later, I became interested in the information side of things. Between university lectures I volunteered with the student charity Sexpression:UK, who facilitate workshops in schools around PSHE topics. This made me reflect on where the young people I was working with sourced knowledge and information, and how they were (or weren’t) being encouraged to evaluate it.

Having developed this interest in information in health contexts, I looked for some work experience with Library and Knowledge Services at my local NHS trust. Besides trying out shelving, the label machine, and other more traditional library activities, a clinical setting presents more unusual opportunities. I found myself testing wet-wipes with nurses, learning my way around a forest plot, and listing as many synonyms as I could find for ‘hip operation’. Healthcare knowledge and information is an area I’m hoping to become involved in following the traineeship, so I’ll probably talk a bit more about what this entails in another post.

Freddy doing a bit of shelving.

Having looked at the past and the future, I’ll leave you with what’s currently going on in the library at this time of year. Students are about to resume their studies. This means there are inductions to prepare (which may involve jelly beans and our resident skeleton, Freddy) and the latest textbooks to process. Meanwhile, the library pages in my notebook are already filling up with events, meetings and scribbled ideas. I’m looking forward to sharing them on here as they happen.