Tag Archives: graduate library trainee

Alan McKechnie, Sainsbury Library

Hello everyone! I’m Alan and I’m the new Graduate Library Trainee at the Sainsbury Library within the Saïd Business School.

Sainsbury Library, Saïd Business School

Sainsbury Library, Saïd Business School

So, a little bit more about me and how I ended up on this traineeship. I’m from Yorkshire (East that is, naturally the best) and studied at the University of Hull gaining both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Historical Research, focusing on maritime history, in particularly nineteenth century US piracy and privateering- after all, who doesn’t love swashbuckling adventurers! I deemed piracy too dangerous of a profession to pursue myself, so instead opted to work within the maritime academic sphere Hull had to offer, becoming a volunteer at Blaydes House Maritime Historical Studies Centre (which I highly recommend any visitors to Hull go check out!). I found myself in the attic of this eighteenth century house sorting and cataloguing a large donation consisting of technical drawings of ships, early sea-charts, as well as miscellaneous research materials – some of which even appropriately still smelt of the sea (a.k.a. fish)! It was my love of working with these materials that lead to me applying to get a place on the traineeship, and six months later here I am, working in one of the world’s leading academic libraries.

Blaydes House, Hull (Hull History Centre)

Blaydes House, Hull (Hull History Centre)

So far it’s been a fairly busy start in the library. We’re currently renovating the old stack room into a quiet study area. This has meant moving large quantities of books from the stacks to another floor; it’s been a bit arduous, but should hopefully be complete by October ready for the new students’ use. My other day-to-day duties include: processing new book and journal acquisitions, reclassifying old literature, and creating the welcome packs for new members of staff. I was also tasked with redesigning and updating a large collection of database guides for the new students who have just started, as well as general housekeeping to make sure the library is in ship-shape for the start of term. I’ve also started working on the enquiry desk on my own. Luckily for me I’ve mainly been dealing with returning students who have been patient and lovely as I’ve try to help them; fortunately, help has never been far away. In terms of visitors, though, it’s been relatively quiet, but I’m foreseeing that this peace won’t last long!

So that’s about it for my time here so far, all I have to do now is enjoy the rest of my year, explore Oxford, and I’ll keep you all posted!

A Day in the Life (Emma Jones, Jesus College Library)

9am       I compose myself after my attempt at a power walk while checking the emails and arranging book hold requests. Then it’s time to scan in and reshelve the returned books. I put anything inappropriate left on the desks overnight (empty bottles, odd socks etc) in lost property, which as term goes on begins to resemble a contraband amnesty box.

10am     After a quick check of the environmental conditions in the historic Fellows’ Library, I collect the post. There are often book deliveries which need processing, classifying and adding to the catalogue. If a book request comes in from a student and there’s enough time, I dash out to Blackwell’s bookshop or find it online.

11am     It’s term time, so I sit in one of the reading rooms to answer queries. I’m also there to keep a tab on noise levels and behaviour, but it’s exam time so there’s a self-policed moratorium on chatter, tomfoolery, and breathing too loudly.

12pm     As part of an ongoing project, I’m looking through some of the old, low-use books we’ve earmarked for weeding. I check SOLO to ensure that there’s still an accessible copy of each book in Oxford and then withdraw the College’s copies. Getting rid of books used to terrify me, but now I secretly enjoy it. More shelf space for new books and fewer irrelevant books for students to browse through is a win-win situation.

1pm       Lunch! As Joanne at St John’smentioned, free lunches are one of the perks of working in a college library. They even have Yazoo milkshake here. As always, it’s something delicious.

2pm       Now it’s time to deal with some book donations. We’ve just finished with some German texts kindly left by a graduate, so today I’m going through a list of works which have been offered to the College’s specialist Celtic Library. As someone with only a smattering of Welsh and no knowledge of other Celtic languages, checking spellings and revising search terms to find these obscure texts can be slow work. But how many other people can say they’ve been looking for a book about medieval Cornish drama today?

4pm       Some guests are due to visit the Fellows’ Library next week, so I’ve been asked to find some rare books to display which match their interests (agriculture, apparently). I search SOLO and look through a shelflist of uncatalogued items, before going to inspect the condition of the books and look for engaging images of land surveying and silkworms.

5pm       Hometime.