Sarah Platt, Taylor Institution Library

Hello! I’m Sarah and I am one of the trainees at the Taylor Institution Library, alongside Yannis, who has already posted a wonderful introduction to the Taylor.

I suppose I’ll start with a little bit about myself… I  arrived in Oxford almost exactly four years ago to begin the MSt in Greek and Roman History, and then started the DPhil in 2011 – young, full of hope, and in blissful denial…. (“Well the thesis is only, like, eight times what I’ve just written for the Masters…. and I’ve got 3 to 4 years to finish it! No problem!!”) Anyway, 3 years later I have learned several things: 1) a year goes by very quickly, 2) overly optimistic attitudes to fragmentary and obscure ancient Greek inscriptions get you nowhere – they do not, after all, hold all the unknown secrets of Athenian civilisation, and 3) if you listen to ‘Last Christmas…’ just that little bit too loud on your headphones in the Sackler – you will get funny looks. I could also talk about how the experience has been rewarding and made me grow as a person, but I’m sure no-one wants to read all that so I’ll leave it there. All that really matters is that since story time at my local library at the age of 4,  it has been very difficult for anyone to extract me from a library. Not content with my weekdays studying in the Bodleian Libraries, I also decided to apply for weekend work at the Bodleian and SSL, where I found both interesting tasks and lovely people in abundance. Now here I am at the Taylor, embarking on my trainee year! When I’m not working or writing my thesis, I knit, draw, write other things, and meticulously organise my bookshelves. (I’m kidding about that last one… but only slightly.)

One of the Taylor's many staircases
One of the Taylor’s many staircases (Taylor Library website)

I was particularly happy when I found out I would be located at the Taylor. I had never set foot in the building until my interview, when I first discovered the library’s beautiful architecture, fascinating collections, and a tendency for books to be located in the oddest little nooks and crannies. The Taylor is the Bodleian library for Medieval and Modern Languages, as well as Film Studies and Women’s Studies. As Yannis has already said, the Taylor has an incredibly beautiful reading room, which I am very lucky to spend rather a lot of time in as I work at the Enquiry Desk in the Research Collection. The workload has been really varied and interesting so far… Alongside the day-to-day tasks of collecting the delivery, shelving, and dealing with reader queries, I have tagged and labelled new books, dealt with material for inter-library loans, and searched through volumes from Sir Robert Taylor’s own architecture collection for a particular drawing of an English stately home (it wasn’t there – but the Rare Books Room was a lovely place to spend half an hour). Learning to recognise the variety of classifications here at the Taylor is like learning to speak another language (appropriately), and the stairs, well … the Taylor reminds me a little of M.C. Escher’s ‘Relativity’, with stairs going in all imaginable directions. The day I make it up from my locker in the basement to the break room in the attic without nearly collapsing on my knees as I stumble through the door – I will know what it feels like to conquer Everest.

All in all, I have really enjoyed my first few weeks at the Taylor, and I am very excited for all the opportunities the next year will bring!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.