Day in the life of a History Faculty Library trainee


I’m out the door and on my bike. I’m lucky enough to have a genuinely enjoyable ten-minute cycle to work in the mornings, which is a great way to start the day.


I arrive at the Rad Cam. After putting my things away, I start the opening routine for the Lower Camera – this involves opening windows, turning on computers and PCAS machines, shelving, and making sure work spaces are tidy for readers. This morning I find a sports bra on one of the radiators, which I put in lost property!

View from above of two stacks of blue plastic boxes. The top box on each stack is open to reveal piles of books inside.
Lapsed books in their boxes ready to head back to the CSF


Using Alma, the library management system software, I create today’s lapse list: a spreadsheet with details of self-collect books which are due to be returned to the CSF. By the time doors open to readers at 9am, I’m starting to collect these lapsed books onto a trolley. Once I’ve finished, I return them all on Alma and then box them up to be taken back to the CSF this afternoon on the delivery van.


There weren’t too many books on the lapse list today, so I have time for a background task. I find a few books whose shelf mark

labels are beginning to fade, and print and attach new labels.


Break time – a cup of tea and a couple of biscuits in the reader common room, while listening to a podcast.

Two images of the same stack of books. In the first, the shelf mark labels are faded. In the second, there are new, clear labels.
Relabelling books – before and after!


I’m on fetching duty now. This means I’m collecting books from around the Rad Cam and Old Bod which have been requested for scanning by readers. Today this takes me into the Duke Humphrey’s Library, the very oldest part of the library, which is always exciting! Then, I identify the sections that need scanning and put in bookmarks ready for my colleague who will be scanning them this afternoon.


I decide to do some shelving. Maybe not the most exciting part of working in a library, but always satisfying!


Today I have the early (12pm) lunch slot. It’s lovely weather so I head along to the Botanic Gardens (free entry is a great perk of the job) to eat my packed lunch. I take a book and enjoy sitting and reading in the sunshine.


I’m back at the Rad Cam, and have an hour slot on the reception desk. It’s an extremely quiet shift – I issue books to one reader, give a couple of tourists directions to the Old Bod, and send a reader who has forgotten her card to Admissions.

Partially completed data input form from an Excel sheet. There are fields for language of resource, ISBN, title, subtitle, statement of responsibility, edition statement and more.
Inputting metadata to the spreadsheet


I get on with some project work. My project covers a collection of uncatalogued materials at the History of Science and Medicine Library – the aim is to identify items that are unique across the Bodleian and record their metadata so that they can be added to the library catalogue and ingested. When I was there this week, I took photos of some of the items, so this afternoon I use these photos to finish entering the details of these items into a spreadsheet created by the Resource Description department.


Break time – after sitting to work on a computer it’s time to stretch my legs, so I put on a podcast and go for a short walk.


An email has come in from ARACU (Accessible Resources Unit) requesting a book for them to scan for a student. I fetch the book, issue it on Alma, and box it up to send to ARACU on the delivery van. Then I get on with some more shelving, starting with the Upper Camera and working my way down to the Lower Gladstone Link.


It’s my final desk shift of the day – this time I’m on the circulation desk in the Rad Cam. I help a couple of readers connect to the internet, and take a student down to the Gladstone Link to locate a book in the tricky Nicholson sequence. I issue and return books, provide directions to the toilets, and answer questions about loan periods and shelf marks. It’s always nice to be able to help readers out – definitely a rewarding part of the job!


It’s the end of my working day. I’m off to the gym (another perk of the job is discounted membership at Iffley Road Sports Centre) and then home!



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