My year as the Graduate Trainee at the Sackler Library

I’ve really enjoyed my year at the Sackler Library. I’ve met lots of lovely people, been given opportunities to carry out exciting project work and had some really interesting experiences as a trainee. Although I’m sad the year is coming to a close, I’m excited for what the future holds!

As the trainee at the Sackler Library I’ve learnt a lot about both reader services and technical services. Splitting my time between helping readers on the issue desk, and processing and accessioning books has given me real insight into how all the different elements of library work fit together and the importance of each.

Alongside all my regular responsibilities, I’ve also (somehow!) found time to carry out project work. I’ve been really lucky to do two different projects this year which have been challenging at times and, ultimately, very rewarding.

The first project I started this year was creating a Classics LibGuide, which can be found here. This was a hugely rewarding and interesting experience.

I started by researching other LibGuides to get a feel for the different types of content, style and organization available. Once I had an idea of how a LibGuide might look, I researched Classics resources available on the web. It turns out there are a lot! It was a real eye opener to see the variety of open access resources out there for Classicists; I found everything from a Roman Route Planner to the slightly sillier daily weather forecast in Latin! After I had chosen the resources, I wanted to include, I created the layout for the LibGuide. I tried to organize the material as clearly as possible to help users navigate the website successfully. Once the layout had been finalized it was a case of uploading links and descriptions and making sure they all worked.

I’m really pleased with the end product, and I hope it will be a useful tool for Classicists!

The second project I embarked upon was to redesign the Sackler floor plans. The old floor plans went out of date during some extensive book moves this year, and the only way to edit them was through Microsoft Paint (a bit of a headache really). And so, in my naivety I bravely decided to start from scratch…

This was not without its problems. I used Inkscape, an open-source vector graphic program, to create the images. Although the software was great, I learned very quickly that circles are tricky shapes to deal with! Aligning the stairwells and shelves running around the walls of the circular building was a real challenge. After a few false starts I had a blueprint for each of the five floors. I then had to decide on the best way to present the information. I found the creative process of deciding how to display the images and text really interesting and enjoyable. How could I best help readers find what they were looking for within a complicated set of different shelfmark and call number systems?

Once the images were finished, and after a final battle with the printers, I put up print versions around the library, made a handout to keep at the issue desk and organized for the maps to be put on the Sackler Library Website.

I’m really glad I finished this project as it’s been really fun doing something creative that’ll hopefully have a positive effect on the library. I’ve learnt a new skill in Inkscape and a lot about project management and problem solving. I hope the maps will be of use to readers, new and old, as they find their way around the Sackler.

Lower Ground Floor Plan
Lower Ground Floor Plan

Overall, I’ve had a lot of fun at the Sackler this year and I can’t wait to begin the next chapter of my career studying for an MS in Library Science and Information Studies at Simmons College, Boston. Here we come, America!

[NB the Sackler Library has now been renamed to the Art, Archaeology and Ancient World Library]

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