Dom Hewett, English Faculty Library

Hi! I’m Dom, and I’m the Graduate Trainee based at the English Faculty Library. I did my undergraduate degree in English here at Oxford, and then studied for a Masters at Bristol, focusing mainly on British literature from the 1920s and 30s. I am in the slightly unusual position of having used the library I work in as a student, though when I arrived for my interview the front door was no longer where it used to be, so things do change!

The EFL is located just outside the centre of town, based in the St Cross building, which we share with the English Faculty, Law Faculty and Bodleian Law Library. The building is a Grade II* listed example of 1960s brutalist architecture, so a little bit different in style from the Radcliffe Camera or Taylorian Institute, though similarly confusing to navigate.

[Image taken from the EFL’s website]
We have significant teaching and research collections for English Literature and Language, in addition to the imaginatively-named Rare Book Room (which is fun to poke around), and materials for the postgraduate degrees in Film Aesthetics and Women’s Studies. We are also a reading room for the wider Bodleian Libraries, which means that our patrons can request books to be delivered here from the Book Storage Facility in Swindon. The EFL is a busy library with a wide variety of things going on, which makes for an interesting place to learn about librarianship!

So, what might a typical day look like?

8.45-10am: arrive at the EFL; turn on the printers upstairs and check that they have enough paper and toner; make up the cash float for the till; process expired hold items and prepare them to be sent back to storage.

10am-11.30am: process the new delivery and take them out to the issue desk; perform a head count of readers; make a cup of coffee; shelve any journals which have been used and update the spreadsheet.

11.30-1pm: update twitter; check the enquiries inbox; go on the issue desk for an hour.

1-2pm: lunch break (the famous ‘Missing Bean’ coffee shop in our building is reopening today, which we’re all very excited about).

2-3.30pm: process the pile of new journals and books; look through our records to see if any journals have failed to arrive on time; update our New Books Display; escort a couple of readers to our Old Norse room.

3.30-5pm: fetch something for a reader from the Rare Book Room; work on a display for the library; go on the issue desk for another hour; help close up and shoo lingering readers; home.

Apart from vastly understating how many biscuits are consumed in a working day, this is a fairly representative picture of what I do. So far I have been here for a month, which has gone extremely quickly. It has been reasonably quiet as most of our students have been away from Oxford, giving us time to make progress on the ongoing reclassification project (which I will do a post about in the future, get hyped). Fingers crossed it doesn’t get too hectic when they all return their vacation loans at once! Luckily my colleagues are on hand to help out (also when I get confused about our concurrent classification systems). Plus they’re a lot of fun to work with!


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