Gabrielle Matthews, the Codrington Library, All Souls College

codrington library

Hello! I’m Gabrielle, the graduate trainee at the Codrington Library at All Souls College this year. I’m from the Seattle area, Washington State, USA. For the past few years I’ve been researching and writing about early modern English literature, focussing on depictions of swordswomen. Recently I’ve been working on an MLitt (Master’s by research) in the English Faculty here in Oxford — and working a few hours per week at the University College library. Before that I was on the English MA course at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, and, what seems like ages ago, I did my BA in English at Smith College in Massachusetts. Unfortunately I’m commuting from Coventry this year, which is about an hour each way, so I can’t be as sociable as I’d like – but I’m looking forward to getting to know my fellow trainees as much as possible in the coming months!

I am absolutely delighted to be working at the Codrington Library, which I’ve found has impressive scope – from amazing illuminated medieval manuscripts to the latest law journals. I’m sure to be constantly learning new things this year, as the library staff wears many hats: from helping the various Fellows of All Souls locate research materials, welcoming readers from around the university (undergraduate and graduate), keeping the collections up to date, handling a steady stream of archive and research queries, and much more – all with three employees total!

We’ve been discussing when would be a good time to offer a tour – I hope everyone will be able to come by to see this beautiful and historic library!

(Photo courtesy of simononly via Creative Commons)

Diana Hackett, Oxford Union Library

Hello, I’m Diana and I’m the trainee at the Oxford Union Society Library. I did a BA and MA in English Literature at the University of Sheffield, graduating in 2007, and have since been working in theatre PR. The graduate trainee scheme is a bit of a change of career direction, but offered me the chance to fulfil an ambition I thought had long since passed me by!

The Oxford Union Library is for members of the Union Society and our holdings are determined by the wishes of our members. We have Library Committee meetings every week during term time to discuss what will be added to the collection, which consists largely of academic materials, but with a strong leisure reading section too, including an extensive collection of travel guides, and an ever-growing stock of DVDs.

The building itself is pretty special, featuring the famed Pre-Raphaelite murals on the gallery walls of the Old Library. Anyone can come and visit the murals for a small fee, and we have a steady stream of visitors coming in every day to see them. My predecessor has created a fabulous audio guide for them too, which you can hire or download to give you a little more of the story behind these wonderful paintings. I’ll be using it to ensure I know all the answers to any visitor questions…Oxford Union Library - Gallery and Murals

I’m really looking forward to this year. Though I was initially worried about being too old and no longer having a properly functioning brain, the training so far has been really interesting and I’m beginning to get the hang of things (slowly…). It is wonderful to be working in such a unique environment, and in a library with such a varied collection, whilst also having the opportunity to meet and chat with the other trainees, and learn from their experiences too.

Emma Stanford, BDLSS

One of our Gutenberg Bible images, CC BY-NC-SA Bodleian Libraries.

Hello! I’m Emma, and I’m the trainee in Bodleian Digital Library Systems and Services. I’m from Washington State in the U.S., and I did my B.A. in literature at Middlebury College. During my degree I worked in our interlibrary loan department and studied for a year at Oxford, and after graduating I spent a year working in electronic reserves and copyright processing for a library in California.

My position is new this year, so it’s a bit undefined, but basically I’m working with the digitization department at BDLSS. We’re doing a partnership with the Vatican Library to digitize millions of objects starting this year, and we’ll be working on making these easily accessible to the public. A lot of what I’ll be doing once we get started is processing the images and assigning metadata (page numbers, content labels, etc.), but so far I’ve been working a bit on the project website and reading a LOT about metadata and digitization standards. Today I learned how to retrieve images from the archive. The images we’re using are very high quality, so they take up a lot of space, and they’re actually stored on tapes that get physically fetched by a robot every time we need to copy something from the archive. This happens much more quickly than I would have expected–it only takes a few minutes.

The people I’m working with are a lot more tech-savvy than I am, so I’m looking forward to learning more about the software and languages we’ll be using. I’m also excited to be dealing with such beautiful images, and to be involved in the effort to make them more accessible.

Joanne Hilliar, St John’s College Library

Hello, I’m Joanne and I’m the trainee in St John’s College Library. I graduated from Southampton University with a BA in English in July, and started my traineeship in August, so I’ve had a fairly quick transition from education to work. Arriving in Oxford a month before training began was a little daunting, but I soon settled into the library routine. One of my first tasks was to help with the annual stock take, meaning that I learnt the layout of the library much quicker than I had expected!

As well as scanning books, I spent a large part of my first month receiving training in some of the general activities involved in the day-to-day running of the library, such as working on the issue desk and processing new books. The Librarian has also given me some more specialised tasks such as copyediting the library’s manuscript catalogue (so it can ultimately be digitally accessible), and redesigning the library information guide and signage, so I’m really enjoying the variety of the work.

The library is a fascinating space historically – one of the artefacts on display is a chest which once belonged to Sir Thomas White, the founder of St John’s, and I’m looking forward to being able to share some of this history with the public at Oxford Open Doors this weekend. There is also a wide range of Special Collections, which I have a particular interest in after doing some voluntary work in an archive last year, and I’m hoping to have many opportunities to work with these manuscripts and early printed books throughout the year.

Emily Delahaye, Sainsbury Library (Saïd Business School)

Said Business School Amphitheatre
Said Business School Amphitheatre

Hi there! I’m the graduate trainee at the Sainsbury Library. A bit on my background – in July I graduated from the London School of Economics with a BA in History. I had no experience of working in a library prior to starting this job, which I was quite worried about! However, I worked in a department store for two and a half years so I have good experience of customer-service and managing stock. I have also done two work experience spells in archives (Westminster City Council and the National Theatre’s) and it will be very interesting to compare these with working in a library.

So far I feel I have settled in well – my colleagues are all very nice (and patient!) and the Sainsbury Library is a very lovely environment to work in. It’s very modern in terms of it’s design (especially compared to other libraries in Oxford!). As well as having a huge range of books, the library also subscribes to many various electronic databases. These are very popular with the students because they provide up-to-date information on markets, companies and industries. As a history student I never got the chance to work with these resources at LSE so I’m very keen to find out more about them here!

It was great meeting all the other trainees at the first session last week – we all come from such different academic backgrounds so it should make for an interesting group! Looking forward to sessions to come, as well as all the tours of the different libraries that we have been encouraged to set up.

Emma Harrold, University Archives


Hi, I’m the new Archives Assistant in the Oxford University Archives. I’m not technically a library trainee but just here for a year and also hoping to tag along to some of the training!

Before I came to Oxford I did my BA in History at the University of Chester, and my MA at Manchester University as well as volunteering at Chethams Library and working as a Libraries and Archives Trainee at Stockport Local Heritage Library. I’m hoping to do the postgraduate course to qualify as an Archivist after my year here.

Luckily for me Sian, last years Archives Assistant, was here for my first week and so I was able to shadow her and learn the basics. I am mainly based in the tower of the Bodleian Library, where we have been responding to email enquiries, and then taking material to Duke Humfrey’s Library (where the Archives material is viewed) as well as spending some time down in the basement of the Examination Schools where some of the Archives are kept.

So far I have began to understand that there are two things plentiful in this job: 1. Information to be learnt (every preconception I had of Oxford University administration has quickly gone out of the window ) and 2. Stairs (working in both the basement of the Examination Schools and the tower of the Bodleian involves alot of climbing of stairs, especially the spiral staircase up to the office. I am hoping I will get used to this!)

Hannah Riley, Bodleian Library

My new parking space.
My new parking space.

Hi, I’m Hannah and I’m just 7 days into my role as the new Graduate Trainee at the Bodleian Library. I’m in good company as one of over 20 wannabe librarians embarking on traineeships across the university this year.

The road to the Bod began with ‘Bounce and Rhyme’ and ‘Silver Surfers’: I’ve been interested in a career in libraries since getting a part-time job at Nuneaton’s public library during my A Levels where most of our patrons were under 6 or over 60. While I was studying for my BA in French and German at Somerville College, here in Oxford, I also helped out in the library and archives over the long vacations. Somerville was a wonderful library to get work experience in; it’s one of Oxford’s largest college libraries as it was built in the days when women weren’t allowed to use the Bodleian! Luckily those dark days are over and I’m really looking forward to spending a year at the Bodleian. I can’t wait to get to grips with the inner workings of this amazing place.

Thus far I have been based on the reserve desk in the Upper Reading Room. Bodleian books aren’t for lending, and much of the huge collection is now stored off-site at the Book Storage Facility (or BSF; one of many acronyms to learn!) We unpack three deliveries a day of books from the BSF in Swindon for readers to consult here, as well as helping readers to find what they need on our open shelves. The Old Bodleian is currently undergoing maintenence works to improve the flooring (no more squeaky lino!) and lighting, so we duck under the red tape (with the permission of the workers) to fetch various volumes. We wouldn’t want any unsuspecting readers tripping into one of the gaps in the flooring in their pursuit of the Collected Works of Coleridge. There are also always new readers who might need a hand with SOLO and I’m anticipating that these enquiries will become ever more common as term time draws near. During my year here I’ll be based at several different desks and service points in the Bodleian, including the Main Enquiry Desk and heading down into the Gladstone Link, so I’m excited about the variety of work that I will get to do.

Welcome to the New Graduate Trainees 2013-14!

We start anDSC_0045other academic year with a new intake of trainees.  Our new trainees attended a Welcome session on the 4th September and it was also a good opportunity for them to meet each other.  It was great to meet them all and to introduce them to Oxford and its libraries.  We also looked at the trainee scheme overall and expectations for the year.  This photo was taken during the break on what was a very warm afternoon.  I think icecreams and lollies would have been a more approriate refreshment during the break, rather than the tea and biscuits on offer!  Despite the heat, we spent some time looking at learning styles preferences to encourage them to make the best of the many learning opportunities they will encounter this year.   The trainees will be introducing themselves on the blog and posting regularly about their experiences and progress over the coming year.  I hope they all have a great year with us!