Tag Archives: BSF Swindon

Michelmas Term Round-Up

Hello! Now that Michaelmas term is coming to an end, Bethan and I thought we would do a round-up post about some the things we have been up to so far.

  • PGCE workshop

In September we had the opportunity to participate in an information literacy training session for new PGCE students with the Education Librarians. This included helping the students utilise the online library catalogue and make the most of the libraries to aid their studies. We also showed them tips and tricks on sourcing academic journals, articles, and books.

Beth says – This session highlighted the importance for new students to learn key skills about using the library catalogue and finding e-resources to aid them in their studies. We got the opportunity to participate in the group work parts of the session to offer suggestions and help when needed, as well as the individual exercises. Although I was supposed to be helping with the teaching, I ended up learning a lot myself!

Emma says – Teaching the PGCE students really helped to confirm what I knew about the library system and it was a great opportunity to put some of the training into practice in a different setting.  We worked with other members of staff from the Education library and two Swiss interns so we had a lot of support! The PGCE students were really friendly and it was a good session to be a part of.

  • Training sessions: which have we enjoyed so far?

During this term we’ve had the opportunity to have practical and theoretical training at Osney. Training sessions have been varied this term, including an interactive session on customer care, an introduction to cataloguing using the Oxford library system, as well as a presentation on applying for courses in library and information studies. Here’s what we each enjoyed the most:

Beth says – In November we got the opportunity to visit the BSF, a warehouse where over 11 million of the Bodleian’s collections are held. There was an informative presentation about the challenges and logistics of the facility, as well as how it is developing. This includes issues of storage space as the collections grow, and improving sustainability to reduce its environmental impact.  We were also given a tour of the facility, which highlighted how efficient the process is to ensure that the books are delivered to the libraries on time, twice a day. Indeed, apparently it takes experienced staff members less than 45 seconds to pick a single book – which is very impressive considering the size and scale of the warehouse.

Emma says – The visit to the Weston Library and having an introduction to the Special Collections in October was a real eye-opener. After an £80m refurbishment the Weston Library, originally called the New Bodleian Library, opened in March 2015 after work began in 2011. The library now has a lot more space including areas for research, public galleries, and a cafe. It was a pleasure to be shown around the conservation department, to see the archivists at work, and to see behind the scenes at the library. As the Weston is so different from the Business library, it was a worthwhile opportunity to see the different roles within librarianship. It was great to see how the conservationists take care of the old books, maps and the libraries themselves.

The Book Storage Facility, aka the BSF, in Swindon

  • Internet Librarian International (ILI) conference, London

In October we were fortunate enough to go to the ILI conference in London due to the sponsored places offered by FLIP and NLPN. There were six of us in total that went from the Bodleian libraries and we all took away a lot from the experience. There were lots of different talks and presentations, from AI to tips for searching relevant information.

Beth says – A session I particularly enjoyed was about how libraries can utilise digital technology to increase reader accessibility. For example, a case study discussed the DAISY Consortium, which is an organisation which aims to improve the reader experience for people who are blind or print disabled by making digital talking books an industry standard across libraries worldwide. Indeed, the clear theme across the conference was about how libraries can develop in the digital age, as well as the challenges this brings. Myself and a few of the other trainees who attended contributed to a blog post for NLPN about the conference here: https://nlpn.wordpress.com/2018/11/01/internet-librarian-international-info-today-sponsored-places/

Emma says – During the conference we were invited to a session by Liz McGettigan about how to be an information professional in the 21st century. This was an informative session about how to advance our careers, what skills we would need to move forward, and how best to develop them. This was a great opportunity to see what paths were before us and give us an idea of what we could do in the future. Working in a library we are able to learn many new and transferable skills, some of which we’re not always able to recognise, so this was a great session to bring out in us what we’ve learnt so far and what sort of roles we would like in the future.

Ben Gable, Katie Day, Bethan Morgan, Jennifer Garner, and Emma Gregory at the ILI conference in October 2018.

Outside of the training programme the trainees meet up fairly often after work. For example, some of us went round the Oxford Open Doors event in September together, visiting Baliol College, Blackwells, the Examination School, and the New Theatre. We’ve frequented a game board café, where we played a variety of card and board games. Luckily, we didn’t fall out too much! Two trainees, Elspeth and Lauren, started a book club. So far, we have read Annhiliation by Jeff Vandermeer, Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker, and we’re currently reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. We had the weather on our side on Bonfire Night when we went to watch the fireworks at South Park. Recently we had our Christmas dinner which nearly all of us attended. It was a great night with great food and company.

Next term looks to be quite busy. We’re looking forward to a new set of training sessions, which includes a visit to Oxford Brookes library and a visit to the digital archives. We can’t wait to see what the next year will bring!

Merry Christmas and a happy 2019 from all the trainees!

By Bethan Morgan and Emma Gregory

Book Storage Facility (BSF) Tour, 9 November

On Wednesday 9 November, the 2016-2017 Graduate Library Trainees (GLT) were  bussed to South Marston on the outskirts of Swindon and treated to a tour of the Bodleian Libraries’ £26-million strategic storage solution, the Book Storage Facility (BSF).

The BSF opened in 2010 to accommodate the Bodleian Libraries’ rapidly accumulating collection (expanding at a rate of approximately 170,000 volumes per annum). It has subsequently ingested over 8 million books, maps, manuscripts, music scores, microfilms, microfiches, newspapers, periodicals and other low-usage material from disparate storage locations in and around Oxford (including salt mines in Cheshire). It has the capacity to store 12-13 million items and potential for further expansion.

The Closed-Stack Delivery Service: The BSF retrieves and delivers requested material twice-daily to pre-selected Bodleian reading rooms. Requests are often honoured within 24 hours. On 6 October 2015, the BSF celebrated its one millionth book request (Aristophanes by James Robson to the Sackler).

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A kickstool is just not going to cut it! The trainees are dwarfed by their surroundings. The  BSF comprises 31 aisles of shelving (11.4 metres high by 71 metres long)  designed to maximise storage density. It also has “planchests” (out of shot). These are tray-based shelves designed to store 1.2 million maps. Photo: Chantal van den Berg

 

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The Room of (almost) Infinite Wisdom. The BSF’s wonderfully multifarious collection of books (from “the Art of Eating in” to the “Handbook of Phonological Development” to Alexa Chung’s memoirs) sit in special acid free, bar-coded cardboard crates with nylon grab handles and a design life of 50 years. Photo: Chantal van den Berg

Jessica Woodward (Taylor Institution Library) describes the BSF tour:

Hardly a day had gone by at the Taylorian when I hadn’t encountered the work of the BSF. Readers would come to my desk wanting to borrow or return books containing neat little white slips, my fellow trainee Will would tantalisingly allude to his activities with crates upstairs, and other colleagues would be glimpsed sifting through items for the leviathan facility to “ingest”.  You can imagine, then, that I was really intrigued to see the BSF, and our training session certainly didn’t disappoint.  

It began with several Powerpoint presentations on different aspects of the facility’s work: storage, logistics, packaging and book moving.  We learnt a lot about choosing the right conditions for books to live in and minimising the potential for wear and tear during transportation.  We were even given tea and biscuits to have while we listened, which was greatly appreciated!


We were then taken for a tour of the storage and processing areas.  Our group was fortunate to have extra time for this as our coach had arrived early.  We watched books being boxed up for delivery to our libraries, to the rhythmic accompaniment of ‘Ghostbusters’ (!). We observed a PhD student using high-tech equipment to research paper conservation, then a giant futuristic door slid open to reveal the incredible 10m-high shelving towers.  Many of us were eager to take photos to remind ourselves of the impressive scale of these.  As we wandered around, dodging the forklift trucks that were zippily picking up and depositing material, we learnt that all kinds of collections can be found in warehouse’s depths, from books to maps, paintings to toys!


Sadly it was soon time for us to take the coach home, but I came away with a lasting sense of how complex an organisation the Bodleian is and how hard its staff work to ensure readers have access to the greatest possible variety of educational materials.  I am very grateful to everyone involved in running the training session for providing such a fascinating insight into this awe-inspiring library outpost.

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Again…the BSF is vast. Its shelves span 153 miles/230km (or the approximate distance between Oxford and Sheffield).  It is also temperature and humidity controlled to create an optimal environment for its book stock. We are informed that the warehouse is fixed at 18 degrees Celsius +/- 1 degree.  Photo: Chantal van den Berg

 

 

End of Year 2015 – Emma Quinlan

Officially, our first academic term as trainees has come to an end! Well done all! We’ve had many highs – who can forget the ‘getting stuck in a lift at the trainee reception’ episode or more recently the epic selfie with the Bodley’s Librarian, Richard Ovenden at the Bodleian Xmas Party. We have had many training sessions on a variety of subjects from Supporting Disabled Readers to How to Become a Qualified Librarian (a very informative and useful session, I might add). I think one of the highlights of the first academic term was to visit the Book Storage Facility (or BSF for short) in Swindon. A place so large it is staggering in its entirety (FYI it has 153 miles of shelving and can hold up to 8.4 million books) and very reminiscent of that famous scene in Harry Potter where Ginny Weasley causes the bottled prophecies to come crashing down in the Department of Mysteries….

BSF Swindon

BSF Swindon (Thank you, last trainee cohort for providing the pic!)

Well that’s what it looked like to me! Anyway, this first term has been an eye opener to the big world of Librarianship and I for one, cannot wait to get stuck into the training next term. First we just have to get through the festive period and all the joys that entails!

Merry Christmas everyone and have a wonderful New Year!

Duncan Jones, Bodleian Library

I am writing this at the start of my second week here at the Bodleian.  My trainee post comes under the umbrella of the Reader Services department and at the moment has seen me based in the Staffed Reserve area of the Upper Reading Room.  We receive several deliveries of stack books from the BSF (Book Storage Facility) in Swindon each day, which are processed and then taken to nominated collection points around the site.  A Self-Collect service was introduced earlier in the year but many readers still order to the Staffed Reserve and any books older than 1900 have to be picked up from here as well.  It’s all change at the moment with the Weston Library (previously called the New Bodleian) opening to readers later this month and the rehousing of the library’s special collections in that space.

View to the URR from the quad.

View to the URR from the quad.  Whenever I look out, someone is pointing a camera at me or themselves!

I found my way onto Oxford’s Trainee scheme after graduating with an English degree in 2010 and moving through various customer facing roles including a year in a public library.  Working with the public was a good preparation for dealing with the broad range of enquiries you face somewhere like the Bodleian.  Later in the year, I will have a chance to be part of the Main Enquiry Desk team and deal with correspondence from around the world but there’s a lot to learn before I get there…

Book Storage Facility

Visit to the Book Storage Facility, Swindon - three trainees outside the front door in high-visibility jacketsOver several weeks in December, library staff in Oxford were invited to take a tour of the Bodleian’s new Book Storage Facility, near Swindon.  Quite a few of the trainees took this opportunity, including me, Cate and Lauren (pictured in our dazzling jackets).

The BSF opened for ‘ingestion’ (sounds gruesome, means filling up with books from the Bodleian and the Cheshire salt mines) on 7th November, and by the time I visited on 17th December it had taken in almost 900,000 books, leaving a mere 5,100,000 to go.

My tour group was shown the four enormous chambers full of towering shelves that will eventually be packed with boxes of books.  Although we didn’t see a forklift truck rising 30 feet to place books on the highest shelves as some groups did, we were able to get a sense of the height as we were taken to the top of the map tower, a stack of rooms containing thousands of drawers ready to store the Bodleian’s map collection.

I was interested to hear about the process that takes place when a book is removed or shelved: a member of staff drives a forklift down an aisle, raises it to the right height, reaches into a shelf, removes one of six shoe-box-sized boxes, and scans four different barcodes to pinpoint the book and its location.  This seems to be far less automated than some had envisioned.  My landlord, a professor, asked me if the books were fetched by robots from sealed chambers with low oxygen levels, and sadly I had to disappoint him.

We also learned that the BSF intends to run a scan-on-demand service and provide a desk for library staff to work at after ingestion has finished, which would extend its function beyond just storing books.  I am glad to have had the chance to visit it at this early stage, as it could be set to become iconic.  We might one day find it spawns imitations in Britain as other major libraries run out of space.