My year as a Graduate Trainee at the Bodleian Social Science Library: Trainee Projects!

I first published this post on the old Graduate Trainee Blog (sorry about that!), so I am re-publishing it here in its proper home.

Being a trainee at the Bodleian Social Science Library has been a really interesting and rewarding experience. I’ve learnt a lot and have been involved with some really enjoyable projects, two of which I would like to talk to you about now.

Twitter at the SSL

Like most people before they start a new job I wanted to find out as much as possible about the place I would be spending the next year before I actually started. Luckily the SSL has a very good website with lots of information on it, but as a semi-frequent ‘tweeter’ I noticed the lack of SSL presence on the social media website, Twitter. In a sense, though, this was a good thing, as it meant that when I started my trainee year I knew exactly what my first project would be!

After agreeing that I would go ahead and create a Twitter account for the Library with the Reader Services Librarian, I consulted with one of my colleagues, the Senior Library Assistant (Research Support), who had already been thinking about how Twitter might be set up for the SSL. She directed me towards several books on the subject and suggested a few useful people to follow. Thankfully I was quite used to how Twitter works and it didn’t take me too long before I was ready to get started.

After looking at lots of different Twitter profiles and how other libraries had set themselves up on the website, we decided to go for a simple approach and chose SSL colours (grey and purple) for the profile’s background. The profile has since been updated to the new style which does not show the colours quite as they were originally, but the famous SSL purple can still be seen here and there!

SSL Twitter profile
The SSL’s Twitter profile

After some research and deliberation, I took the advice I found in some of the books I had read about Twitter; I created a macrocosm of 10 tweets that would act as a good example of what the SSL’s Twitter feed would be like. These 10 tweets were comprised of factual information and slightly more light-hearted and interesting things to prevent the feed from becoming too boring.  These more light-hearted posts would always be related to the Social Sciences, Libraries, or Higher Education, to keep it relevant to our readers. It was only after this had been done that we started to think about who we would follow and how we would interact with others.

We decided that, as one of the Bodleian Libraries, it would be appropriate to follow the other libraries who were on Twitter. We also decided to follow the University Colleges and departments that seemed relevant to us, and then a few external Tweeters like the LSE Impact Blog (@LSEImpactBlog) and the British Library (@britishlibrary). This all helps to keep us up to date with things that might affect us, and also provides us with new material to retweet for our followers.

Recently it has also been my job to write a comprehensive set of instructions in a Staff Manual entry for using Twitter at the SSL. As it turns out, writing instructions can be quite a length process. It has been very useful though, as by going through everything in detail I have been able to spot some ways that current processes can be improved, leading to a more effective service for our readers.

So far Twitter seems to be working well. It helps to ensure all of the information we need our readers to know is getting out where they can see it, and it provides a good method for readers to get in contact with us if they have any concerns. Of course, this can work both ways too…

Existential Crisis
I must admit I felt a little bad about this one…

SSL <3 Your Books Project

In addition to dealing with the Library’s social media output, trainees at the Social Science Library are responsible for assessing and repairing damaged books under the guidance of the Acquisitions Senior Library Assistant. As part of trying to improve the general care of our collection we decided to launch the ‘SSL <3 Your Books Project’ (also known as the ‘SSL Love Your Books Project’). This project hoped to tackle collection care at the level of readers, by encouraging them to take steps to look after the books that they borrowed from us.

While many of us worked on different aspects of the project, I was responsible for creating a small selection of bookmarks that would be handed out to readers during the week that we promoted the project. After taking various factors into consideration (like what we would like the bookmarks to look like, what message we were trying to get across, and whether we could afford to print them using a commercial maker) we decided to use a simple and colourful design on sturdy white paper-card. We decided to advertise the project on one side of each bookmark, and on the reverse each would advertise a different part of the Technical Services team at the SSL.

Here is a picture of the finished product, along with the project’s logo:-

Everybody loves bookmarks, right?
Everybody loves bookmarks, right?

In addition to this I was also responsible for writing and publishing the Blog post that would go live on the SSL’s blog, and drafting the information that would go on the SSL’s website (even where the information would be displayed and how a user might navigate towards it!). Though this took some time, I hope you’ll agree that they explain everything you might want to know about the project. These pages can all be found at and

I feel like I’ve done rather a lot during my trainee year, and I very much hope that next year’s trainees all get to experience as much as I have. This will be the last post from me as I leave next week to take up a permanent role at one of the Colleges… Wish me luck!

Luke Jackson-Ross – Graduate Trainee – Bodleian Social Science Library

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