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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!