Hi! I’m Nia and I’m the new Graduate Trainee at the Bodleian Old Library. The Old Library contains two reading rooms, as well as the Duke Humfrey’s Library- of Harry Potter fame. It features as the restricted section of Hogwarts Library, but it is certainly not restricted to students wanting to study or read in there. The staff study in DH has also been home to me whilst completing my mandatory training- the most aesthetically pleasing place any online work training has taken place, I’m sure!
A few months ago, I was studying at the University of Manchester for my undergraduate degree in English Literature. Manchester is home to some amazing libraries and archives, and it is during my time as an undergrad that I discovered my love for this area of work. I volunteered at the Portico Library, located in Manchester city centre, which has a great collection of 19th century ‘polite literature’. I also spent some time archiving for the Pankhurst Centre, which is a women’s centre, heritage site and museum all–in–one.
Working at the Old Library, however, is quite different to anything I’ve experienced before. You really feel the significance of hundreds of years of history, with the eyes of 202 great scholars and thinkers following you as you wander the Upper Reading Room. This collection of portraits is called the painted frieze. It’s exciting to play a part in such an awe-inspiring facility.
So far, my favourite part of my job has been that I get to chat to so many different people every day. The Old Library has such a variety of readers and visitors. When I’m working on the Main Enquiry Desk, I answer emails from people who are in the neighbouring building, to scholars on the other side of the world! I’ve also learned how to process new books going on to displays or the open shelves, which includes tattle-taping and stamping items. There is a desk dedicated to this, which sort of feels like an arts and crafts corner. It’s safe to say I am thoroughly enjoying getting to grips with all the different facets of working at the library.
As a student who spent their first year of university locked down in halls, my library was a sanctioned place I could go to feel less isolated. Although we’ve emerged out of the pandemic, I believe that the importance of this has not waned, and so I’m really keen to get involved with using the library as a place to promote student wellbeing. Aside from this, the training sessions that introduce us to different careers in librarianship, such as our recent talk on cataloguing, will be incredibly useful in helping me decide on how to move forward in this field. It also helps that there is a great cohort of trainees this year and that we’ve enjoyed many trips to the pub already!
If you see me in the Old Library or in the Radcliffe Camera (I can often be found in the Lower Gladstone Link, staring quizzically at the Nicholson sequence) please don’t hesitate to say hello and ask me any questions you may have!