Farewell from the 2018-19 Trainees

As the 2018-19 trainee scheme draws to a close, we have listed our immediate plans for the future in this blog post. Hopefully this will be useful to anyone thinking of applying to the scheme, or for the next cohort of trainees to have some sense of where they might be heading in a year’s time. All the best to the new trainees starting in September, and good luck to any future applicants to the scheme.

 

Alex Plane, New College

I’m going to be doing the full-time Library and Information Studies MA at UCL, with a focus on manuscripts, palaeography and historical bibliography. I’ll also be working part-time at New College Library as Special Collections Curatorial Assistant.

 

Amy Douglas, St Hugh’s College

I’ve loved my trainee year at St Hugh’s – the work has been diverse and interesting, my colleagues (and the cats) are lovely, and the training sessions have been really useful. I’ll be staying on at St Hugh’s for another 2 years as a Library Assistant, while doing the long-distance Library and Information Services Management MA course at the University of Sheffield. After that, who knows? Might stay in Oxford, or might try and find a Librarian position back home in Scotland. I’ve enjoyed working in an academic library with a modern working collection, so I’ll probably look for roles in similar libraries (but won’t limit myself). The trainee scheme has taught me a lot, and has been an excellent gateway into the profession. Made some friends too – I’m sure we’ll help one another through the masters.

 

Flapjack the cat in a tree

Admiral Flapjack, one of the St Hugh’s College cats.

 

Ben Gable, Sackler Library

I’ll be staying on at the Sackler in a newly-created post.

 

Beth Morgan, Bodleian Reader Services

After a fantastic year in Oxford, I have decided to move to Sheffield to study an MA in Librarianship full-time. I hope to get a part-time job in an academic library alongside this.

 

Elizabeth Piper, Oxford Union Library

I’ll be at the Oxford Union Library as a graduate trainee for another year.

 

Emma Gregory, Sainsbury Library

I really enjoyed my time at the Sainsbury Library. My colleagues were all so welcoming and made me feel part of the team instantly. They were always happy to answer my questions and help me whenever I was stuck. The trainee scheme was a great way to meet other people as well. It was particularly helpful when moving to a new city as it’s great to have other people in the same boat to talk to. I finished my traineeship at the Sainsbury Library at the end of May and moved to St Hilda’s College where I am now the Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach Officer there. A bit of a change from libraries, but I’m really enjoying my new job and having new challenges.

I learnt a great a deal throughout the year, learnt new skills, and met some lovely people. One main tip, if you do apply, don’t be daunted by subject specialist libraries! The Sainsbury Library is a business library, and I’ve never studied Business or Economics and I really enjoyed my time there. If you’re interested in libraries, books, the University of Oxford, definitely apply for the graduate scheme! You never know where you’ll end up!

 

Emmy Ingle, Lady Margaret Hall

I’m planning to stay at LMH Library. I’m excited to keep working on our accessibility and start thinking about new exhibitions.

 

Hannah Thompsett, All Souls College

Next year I will be studying for the Sheffield University MA Library and Information Services Management, part time via distance learning. I will also be working mornings as a Library Assistant at University College, Oxford (commonly referred to as Univ), just over the road from where I am currently based, so I’m not moving far.

 

Harry Bark, St John’s College

I’m going to be taking up a position with a mental health charity in August.

 

Jenna Meek, Bodleian Law Library

After a brilliant year at the Bodleian Law Library, I will miss all my colleagues and fellow trainees in Oxford lots when I return back home to Glasgow to study for a MSc in Information and Library Studies at the University of Strathclyde. I am hoping to be able to get a part-time job in libraries while studying full-time for my masters, and I am very excited but also slightly apprehensive about what the future will bring – wish me luck!

 

Jennifer Garner, Bodleian Reader Services

I’m now working as a library assistant at a faculty library in Oxford, and studying the Sheffield library masters course via distance learning.

 

Katie Day, Taylor Institution

I finished the Taylor traineeship early, at the end of June, in order to start my new, permanent part-time position as Library Assistant across the Taylor, Sackler, and Oriental Institute Libraries, which I have been working in for a month already! Come September, I will be adding studying at UCL, as I take my MA (part-time) in Library and Information Studies. I’ve had a wonderful time as a trainee, and I’m so excited about where I’m going next!

 

Lauren Ward, Bodleian Social Science Library

I will be working as a Senior Library Assistant at St. Anne’s College Library, while completing my LIS MA part-time at UCL come September. Having been completely new to libraries when I started as a trainee, I would have never had the skills or confidence to go into my new role or further study without the traineeship, and am very grateful for the year I’ve had!

 

Leanne Grainger, Christ Church

I have really enjoyed my graduate trainee year at Christ Church Library and the experience really confirmed for me that I really do want to work in Library and Information Services. As such I applied for an MA in Library and Information Services Management at the University of Sheffield, which I will be starting this September. This will be through distance learning and I will be studying part-time over two years. I am also really fortunate to have the opportunity to continue working full-time at Christ Church Library as a Library Assistant for the next year. Both working full-time and studying part-time will be a challenge, but I am really glad I can be working in a library alongside my studies as I think it will keep me motivated and hopefully what I learn in one will help me in the other!

 

Rebecca Leeman, University Archives

I’m going to work on a project in Croatia, ‘Mapping and documentation of industrial heritage’, in Ivanic-Grad. It’s organised by Culture Hub Croatia, in partnership with Friends of Heritage and European Heritage Volunteers. They organise short placements around Europe for young heritage professionals. I suppose it’s a kind of chance to use archival skills in a setting where they are trying to develop a public profile of their heritage.

 

Rebecca presents at the trainee showcase

Rebecca delivering her presentation at the trainee showcase in July 2019.

 

Ross Jones, Bodleian History Faculty Library

I have really enjoyed the Bodleian Graduate Library Traineeship; everyone has been incredibly supportive and receptive, and I will miss my fellow trainees who are leaving Oxford to pursue opportunities elsewhere – I wish them luck!

During the traineeship, my nisus has been toward achieving a place on a library-related Masters programme, so I was pleased to learn earlier this year that I have been accepted to study Library and Information Services Management at Sheffield University. The course is a distance-learning programme taught on a part time basis, which means I can continue to live and work in Oxford. Having recently secured a permanent position here as a Library Assistant, I am a little apprehensive over the prospect of balancing professional and academic commitments, but after speaking to some of my colleagues, I realise I am not alone in this respect!

 

Sally Hamer, Wolfson College

I am going on to UCL to do my MA in Library and Information Studies full-time, for which I will be commuting from Oxford while continuing to look for library jobs.

 

Michaelmas Reflections from the Law Bod

As I post this, there is a mere few hours left of Michaelmas term and it boggles the brain as to where the time has gone! Reading back on my first post from over two months ago has got me reflecting on how much I’ve learned since then and how comfortable I now feel in a building that has been slowly revealing its character to me. These dark, gloomy mornings must be making me emotional!

As I am based in the Information Resources team, my tasks this term have been mainly book processing, serials processing for the New Journal Display and reclassifying part of our collection. This is broken up with a several 2-hour shifts a week on the Enquiry Desk which have been great for interacting with our regular readers and learning about their area of research, as well as aiding newer readers in navigating our, often confusing, collection. I have only just gotten to grips with the layout of our ground-floor rolling stacks, and not embarrassed to admit I had to consult a map a few days ago while shelving after becoming baffled as to where the usual home was of an old, secondary collection Criminology text.

A rare sunny and quiet morning in the Law Bod. View into the main Reading Room from the Gallery.

My IR (Information Resources) work is varied and allows me the privilege of handling almost every book that comes through the library – be it through Legal Deposit, purchase or donation. Some days I’ll find myself 5 minutes into reading a book that I had intended only to skim through while stamping and tattling. Who knew law could be so interesting to an English Literature and Art History graduate?!

One of the more difficult, but very informative, tasks have been the reclassification of our Roman Law collection. My language experience has certainly come in useful as the texts are predominantly in German and Italian, but it is often hard to decipher the nuanced meanings between certain words when you are deciding on specific shelfmarks, as many words can be similar in language but mean very different things in a legal context. One language which would have been useful to be familiar with is Latin, but I decided against studying it on the belief that it would not help me while being a tourist… However, now that I am learning tonnes about Roman Law and its apparent influence on our own Common Law legal system, I can impress anyone while travelling with the Latin terms for various contracts and criminal activities, because I hear people love to talk about Stipulatio and Damnum Iniuria Datum on their holidays, yes?

‘Furtum’ is the Latin legal term for ‘theft’ in Roman Law …but of course you already knew that.

Speaking of summer holidays… the stormy, winter weather has brought the library alive with the howling of the wind circulating around the building and the thunder of the rain on the slanted roof windows. The noise is almost biblical when the rain is pouring and it still excites and awes me when it is in full force. I am really getting familiar with where the best seats are, which of our four floors is the least chilly and the quietest areas of the library, which is useful when suggesting places for readers to park up with their books for the next 8 hours. I have also aided a student in using our microfilm reader, which was a nice departure into the past from a standard query of how to search for legislation on an online database.

Best seat in the house. This nook can be found on our Gallery level, tucked between carrels with a lovely view.

Finally, our training sessions this term have been so interesting and varied, and extremely useful for day to day library work. Seeing the other trainees almost every week has been so great for catching up and reminds me that I’m not alone in being thrown into so many new experiences. I am so looking forward to heading back up north to Scotland for Christmas and Hogmanay, but I am also welcoming Hilary Term in the New Year and wondering what new challenges and opportunities it will bring. We still have a few weeks left until the Law Bod closes for Christmas, but Merry Christmas when it comes and lang may yer lum reek!

Elizabeth Piper, Oxford Union Society Library

Good morrow! I’m Elizabeth and I’m the trainee at the Oxford Union Society Library.

It’s an older photo sir, but it checks out…

The Union is cunningly hidden off Cornmarket Street with another entrance on St. Michael’s Street and acts rather like a private club for its’ members- people come here to work away from colleges or distractions from roommates and the like, although the Union bar is in the room next door so distractions are never that far away! The library houses about 46,000 books which makes it one of Oxford’s smaller libraries, but it makes up for that with some incredible murals and a painted ceiling from the pre-Raphaelites showing scenes from Tennyson’s Morte d’Arthur. Unlike other libraries, it holds the largest collection of travel guides and fiction (outside of the Bodleian, naturally!), but unlike the Bod, all of these are borrowable.

Oxford Union Society Library
This is the Old Library which was the old Debating Chamber and now the Main Library

There are four of us who work here and we have the luxury to have an actual office just off the library, so we’re allowed tea at our desks! This is a luxury I never had when working in Christ Church, where I worked for a few years in the Main Library, and also producing an item-level catalogue for one of the special collections called The Portal Papers which is a collection from the Chief of the Air Staff of the Royal Air Force from World War Two. These are the papers that really sparked my interest in libraries. I had previously served in the RAF and seeing how records that were classified as Top Secret had been protected and kept hidden away, just waiting for a time when they were able to be used and read again is absolutely fascinating to me. Some of the papers had not been looked at since Portal looked at them and finding that information for the first time just hiding in plain sight in a grey or blue archival box looking completely innocuous on a shelf is, I think, quite exciting. And that is just one collection- knowing that libraries are full of collections just like this just waiting to be found made me apply for the Masters programme in Library and Information Studies at Aberystwyth which I am currently doing via distance learning at the moment.

Sir Lancelot mural
Nice detail of the murals

My days in the library are generally spent learning super in-depth how to catalogue, although there are other duties as well. I am the minutes secretary for the Library Committee which decides which books should be kept and which to be withdrawn- there is a “one-in: one-out” policy when it comes to acquisitions here. The members are in charge of our policies, budgets and acquisitions as a general rule, and members can range from a first-year undergraduate to a senior life-member who has been a part of the Union for the last seventy years. It is a style of management I haven’t come across before in Oxford libraries. The other bonus to working here is getting to go to the debates or to hear the speaker events- only recently, I got to see Jon Stewart and Dave Chappelle while they were at the Union which was incredibly exciting.

All in all, this is a great place to work! 🙂

Marjolein Platjee, Weston Library

Hello everyone! I’m Marjolein and I am the new digital archivist trainee at the Weston Library. The Weston Library, or originally the New Bodleian Library, was built in the 1930’s in order to house all the books and collections that no longer fit in the Old Bodleian. However, by 2010 the Bodleian’s holding’s had outgrown this building as well. The decision was made to move the majority of the material to Swindon and to completely renovate the New Bodleian. The library reopened under the name Weston Library in 2015, and is now home to the special collections. It has two large reading rooms where readers can consult the material in these collections.

The Weston Library

So now you know where I work, but I bet you are wondering what it is I actually do. Well, I have a job that offers quite a bit of variety, which makes it exciting. On Monday mornings you can find me in one of the two reading rooms of the Weston Library to answer questions that readers have, give out archival materials and books etc.

I am also being taught how to catalogue both digital, paper and hybrid collections. This involves making a boxlist (where you list what is in each box of a collection brought into the archive), creating a cataloguing proposal, arranging the material in a way that is logical for readers who wish to consult it in the future, cataloguing it and publishing it online. So far I have really enjoyed making boxlists, as you never quite know what material you come across… The most exotic items I have encountered are undoubtedly temporary tattoos and multi-coloured, gold inscribed corkscrews. That’s right, archiving doesn’t just involve books and piles of loose paper.

Me getting materials out of the stacks whilst wearing the protective and “ever so stylish” Bodleian bobcap.

Speaking of publishing catalogues online, I am currently helping my colleagues to reformat the XML (i.e. code) behind the online catalogues of the special collections. We are doing this to transfer them to a new, better system, which will help readers navigate the online collections more easily.

Next to this, I also spend quite a bit of time digitizing media such as CD’s, cassette tapes etc. using forensic software so that the information is preserved for posterity.

Apart from all of the above, I also work on the Bodleian web archive, where we archive entire websites so anyone can still consult them after their owners have taken them offline. We are currently writing a Libguide to accompany our collection, to help readers navigate the collection and to refer them to other web archives that might be of interest to them.

I am really enjoying my time here and definitely am not getting bored with all the exciting and interesting tasks I have to do. I cannot wait to see what else there is to learn!

Sally Hamer, Wolfson College Library

Hello everyone. I’m Sally, and I am spending my Traineeship at Wolfson College. I am originally from Germany, but I moved to England five years ago to study History at the University of Essex. It was there that I initially thought I would aim to become an archivist. Over my time at Uni that goal became somewhat buried under the cumulative stress of studying and forging a path for myself, and I completely forgot this was something I had originally wanted to do. After my undergrad, I moved to Oxford and decided to pursue postgraduate study, settling on a Postgraduate Diploma in Anthropology from Oxford Brookes University. After the stressful last year I had had during my undergrad, my year at Brookes reawakened my passion for academic learning and the preservation of knowledge. This is when I realised that I wanted to work in Librarianship, and surround myself with the environments and people who had brought me so much joy while engaging with them.

I then undertook an internship at Magdalen College Library in order to find out whether Library work was really for me, and found that I loved everything about it. My supervisors there were incredibly kind and generous with their time and knowledge, and it is through their guidance that I arrived at Wolfson as part of the Bodleian Library Trainee Scheme.

The beautiful Wolfson grounds.
From the College website: https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/graduate/colleges/wolfson-college

My team at Wolfson is very small, comprising only of me and the Librarian, and as such I essentially fulfill the role of Assistant Librarian. This suits me really well, as it means that I am entrusted with a fair amount of work and responsibility, while still being encouraged to engage as much as possible with any and all training opportunities that cross my path. In my first month here I have already attended talks on Open Access, assisted the Bodleian’s Education Librarian with teaching, and joined a Resource Workshop at the Social Sciences Library, alongside the official training sessions provided by the Bodleian. This is allowing me to gain a broad insight into Information and Library Sciences, and to understand what topics I am more interested in than others.

Our Jessup Reading Room.

Aside from my day-to-day tasks, I am largely responsible for project-managing the processing and storage of several large bequests made to the College, comprising several thousand books. It is my job to make sure these items are sent to external cataloging, then processed and stored at Wolfson. I understand that completing this project will take me the better part of my year here, as more books arrive from the external cataloging on a fortnightly basis for me to get on with as speedily as I can.
I’ll let you into a secret : this is my favourite job here at Wolfson! I find the processing of books very satisfying, and I get to have a look at dozens of fascinating volumes every day, so I could not be happier.

The boxes and shelves in my office holding items from bequests to the College waiting to be processed and shelved.

Wolfson is a Graduate College situated slightly outside the city centre, and as such benefits hugely from quiet roads and beautiful surroundings. Working at a Graduate College is wonderful, as everyone you engage with on a daily level is deeply committed and passionate about their research, making for highly interesting and varied conversation and engagement. Wolfson is committed to its values of community and egalitarianism, and I have definitely felt very welcome here. So far, I am really enjoying my time at Wolfson and at training with the other Trainees – I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year will bring!