Library Trainee Day in the Life (Emily Delahaye, Sainsbury Library)

Hi everyone! Last year the trainees blogged about a typical day in the life in their respective libraries so I thought I would do the same – this is what my day as a trainee generally looks like!

8.30 am – Arrive at the library and settle in. Once a week I open up the library – this involves picking up copies of the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal to put in the library, emptying the book return box, sweeping the library for lost property and books left on desks, and checking that all the lights are switched on and that there is paper in the printers.

8.45 am – The whole team helps to shelve books that were put into the book return box overnight. If its term time, then we can have quite a few shelves of books to sort through, but everyone working together makes this quite a speedy process!

9.00 am – 10.15 am – Every day I spend four hours on the enquiry desk, either in the morning or after lunch. If I’m on the desk in the morning, I first sort through all the emails in the library inbox, forwarding them on to the relevant people or responding to them myself. When the post arrives there might be new issues of journals or new books for me to process and label, which is a task I quite enjoy.

10.15 am – Normally on my morning break I will go down and get a coffee in the excellent cafe we have in the Said Business School.

10.30 am – 1.00 pm – After my break I will continue to work on the enquiry desk. During term time I will be mainly dealing with student enquiries. Typical enquiries I receive include: how to find a book in the library, how to get access to one of the electronic databases we subscribe to, how to use the printing system and how to order books from the Bodleian Storage Facility (BSF). Around this time in the morning, the books students have previously ordered from the BSF will arrive, so I will check these in and lock them away securely.

1.00 pm – 2.00 pm – Lunch break!

2.00 pm – 5.00 pm – In the afternoon, if I’m not on the enquiry desk I will be at my own desk in the library office. During these hours I work on various projects, such as helping with the reclassification of parts of the library to the library of congress system. Otherwise, I might be uploading files to the library’s student project database, where current students can read their predecessors’ dissertations which helps with writing their own. Recently we had a book sale in the library, so I spent some time making a list of everything we were selling, so we could keep track, and also taking pictures of the books so we could advertise them to students.

I’m over half way through my traineeship now and I’m still really enjoying working at the Sainsbury Library – my colleagues are very encouraging and have often let me be part of the work they do, which has given me a detailed insight into the world of librarianship!

Hannah Riley, Bodleian Library

My new parking space.
My new parking space.

Hi, I’m Hannah and I’m just 7 days into my role as the new Graduate Trainee at the Bodleian Library. I’m in good company as one of over 20 wannabe librarians embarking on traineeships across the university this year.

The road to the Bod began with ‘Bounce and Rhyme’ and ‘Silver Surfers’: I’ve been interested in a career in libraries since getting a part-time job at Nuneaton’s public library during my A Levels where most of our patrons were under 6 or over 60. While I was studying for my BA in French and German at Somerville College, here in Oxford, I also helped out in the library and archives over the long vacations. Somerville was a wonderful library to get work experience in; it’s one of Oxford’s largest college libraries as it was built in the days when women weren’t allowed to use the Bodleian! Luckily those dark days are over and I’m really looking forward to spending a year at the Bodleian. I can’t wait to get to grips with the inner workings of this amazing place.

Thus far I have been based on the reserve desk in the Upper Reading Room. Bodleian books aren’t for lending, and much of the huge collection is now stored off-site at the Book Storage Facility (or BSF; one of many acronyms to learn!) We unpack three deliveries a day of books from the BSF in Swindon for readers to consult here, as well as helping readers to find what they need on our open shelves. The Old Bodleian is currently undergoing maintenence works to improve the flooring (no more squeaky lino!) and lighting, so we duck under the red tape (with the permission of the workers) to fetch various volumes. We wouldn’t want any unsuspecting readers tripping into one of the gaps in the flooring in their pursuit of the Collected Works of Coleridge. There are also always new readers who might need a hand with SOLO and I’m anticipating that these enquiries will become ever more common as term time draws near. During my year here I’ll be based at several different desks and service points in the Bodleian, including the Main Enquiry Desk and heading down into the Gladstone Link, so I’m excited about the variety of work that I will get to do.

The Great Bodleian Tour 2012

Tower of the Five Orders

On Tuesday 11th September the graduate trainees of 2012/13 were invited for a tour of the Bodleian, followed by a wine reception. We were met by Vanessa Corrick and Kate Petherbridge in the Old Quad, where we tried not to look too much like tourists and, ironically for a group of wannabe librarians, were shushed by the diligent Quad patrols…­

We worked our way up myriad staircases until we reached the impressive Special Collections room where the Bodleian’s rare books are housed, then creaked and squeaked our way through the reading rooms (the silence really augments any footfalls, and a gaggle of graduate trainees trooping through raised a few heads from books!)

The History Faculty’s new home

In the Radcliffe Camera, we were confronted by empty shelves in the upper level. A major shift of the History Faculty’s entire stock meant that we were present at one of the few times that a room in the Bodleian would be seen in such a bookless state; the shelves are awaiting the History department’s books, currently being reclassified. It is hard to believe that the entire space will be filled before 0thweek, but staff are optimistic that everything will be ready in time for the students’ arrival. It was a good example of the dedication and hard work of librarians behind-the-scenes to ensure that they are ready to provide their customers with a timely service.

After the tour it was time for wine and nibbles and mingling with library staff from all around Oxford, who were only too happy to explain their routes into the profession and to provide the trainees with sage advice. Mike Heaney, Executive Secretary at the Bodleian, welcomed us all and assured us that we were at the start of a great year ahead: something that everyone was happy to raise a glass to!

Some of the trainees in the Old Schools Quad, joined by the Earl of Pembroke!

Kat Steiner, Bodleian Law Library

Hi! As the title suggests, I’m Kat, and I’m the new Information Resources trainee at the Bodleian Law Library. There are two trainees at Law: myself, and Frankie, the Academic Services trainee. Law is one of the biggest libraries in Oxford, along with the Bodleian itself, and the Radcliffe Science Library, so there are a lot of job descriptions and names to learn, as well as four floors to navigate! Broadly speaking, to me at least, Information Resources deals with books (and journals, law reports, legislation, dissertations, etc.), and Academic Services deals with people (and interlibrary loans, document delivery, legal research courses, etc.) There’s a lot going on in both departments!

A bit of background to me: I’ve just finished a degree at The Queen’s College, Oxford, in mathematics and philosophy. I really enjoyed living in Oxford, especially living out in the town with friends, rather than in college itself, and for the last two and a half years, I also worked some evenings and weekends at the Philosophy Faculty Library, (which has now moved and merged with Theology to be the Philosophy and Theology Faculties Library), issuing books, shelving, and helping readers. I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to try it out full time, and so here I am! I’m hoping to find out a bit more about Library School before I decide if I’m definitely going to do it, and when and where, but if I enjoy this year then I certainly hope to go on to it in the near future.

Law couldn’t be more different from Philosophy: it has almost ten times as many items (over 450,000), and about six times as many full-time staff (probably about 20, but I haven’t counted). So everyone has much more specific jobs, and I’ll be working as part of a better defined team. It also doesn’t lend books out to people, so nothing really leaves the library, but the most in-demand books are kept at the reserve desk, and checked out to readers using the same system as lending, only within the library. There are also a lot more rotas for things, as everyone takes their turn on the enquiries and reserve desks, as well as chipping in with shelving, checking study carrels for books, receiving deliveries of books from other places, and so on. At the moment I’m mostly having meetings with everyone to find out more about what they do, and learning about how everything fits together. There are hardly any readers in, but I’m expecting it to get really busy as soon as term starts!

I’m very much looking forward to getting stuck in with all the projects in Information Resources – there are absolutely loads going on. I’m going to be responsible for changing the New Journals display every week, and setting up a display of new publications by Oxford Law Faculty every term. Then there will be helping with library tours for new students, loads of cataloguing to learn as I help deal with the legal deposit books arriving every week, and the reclassification of some of the textbooks in the library to the Moys system…the list is practically endless! At the moment, though, I’m mostly shelving, getting lost, and doing lots of talking to people about their jobs, because I haven’t been trained in how to do any of these things yet! It’s only Day Two, after all. I’ve discovered, though, that shelving is a really great way to learn the layout of the library, so I’m taking all the chances I can get to do it – not difficult as all three of our champion shelvers are on holiday this week!

All the trainees were invited to a tour of the Central Bodleian this afternoon, followed by drinks in the Divinity Schools which I thought was pretty amazing. Although I’ve studied in Oxford, I never really used the Bodleian itself (I only went to the Lower Reading Room once, in the first week of my second term, to find a book for my first ever philosophy essay. I suspect now that my tutor set the book especially so that we had to visit the Bod at some point in our degrees!). The tour took us round the Radcliffe Camera, the Gladstone Link, the Duke Humfrey’s Library and the Lower and Upper reading rooms. I think my favourite places were the Duke Humfrey’s Library, followed closely by the Gladstone Link! Bizarre combination, but they both struck me as really fun places to work, although they’re poles apart. It really brought home to me what a great opportunity the programme is for all of us, since Oxford is an amazing, unique place to study, and working for the Bodleian or the college libraries allows us lots of exciting opportunities to experience completely different libraries. I’m also very much hoping to get in a trip to the Book Storage Facility in Swindon, with all its futuristic automation.

That’s all from me for now, but I’m sure I’ll be writing again in a while, when other people have introduced themselves, and I’ve got started on some of those projects!