Rhiannon Perrin – Bodleian Law Library

Hi my name is Rhiannon (Rhiannon P as we have two Rhiannon’s on this year’s trainee scheme – although luckily not in the same library!) and I will be spending the year working in the Bodleian Law Library. The Bodleian Law Library is based in the St. Cross building on Manor Road, the English Faculty Library is also in this building and next door to us is the Social Science Library, with the old Bodleian Library less than a ten minute walk away.  So far in the past two weeks I have spent my time meeting and talking to all the different staff within the Law Library and learning about their areas of expertise. This year there are two trainees at the Law Library, Laura who is based in Information Resources, and myself in Academic Services. Being based in AS means that alongside my usual tasks like shelving and staffing the enquiry desk I am also involved in scanning resources to go online both on our internal page LawBod4Students and for ORLO reading lists.

Gladstone’s Library


Before coming to Oxford I was working in a small residential library in North Wales called Gladstone’s Library. In many ways this was great preparation for coming to the Bodleian as every day I spent time on the enquiry desk, helping readers, cataloguing and circulating books and journals, as well as working on specific projects being undertaken at Gladstone’s Library. However, Gladstone’s Library only had 150,000 volumes whereas the Bodleian Law Library has over 550,000 so far more material for me to familiarise myself with over the next year! Before that I had just completed my LLM in International Law at the University of Sussex where I got to visit The Hague and see incredible places like the Peace Palace which is home to numerous bodies of International Law including the International Court of Justice, but most importantly (to me anyway) the Peace Palace Library, an amazing building that holds over a million volumes on International Law. Finally, before that I was doing my BA in History where I spent part of my second year working in an archive, and I enjoyed it so much I then spent the whole of my third year working in the university library.

A few of us trainees outside Christ Church College


I am really looking forward to spending a year in Oxford, so far it seems like a fantastic city with lots of things to do and places to visit. I am excited for term to begin and to start seeing the Law Library in full flow, with postgraduate inductions beginning in less than two weeks and undergraduates the week after that. It has been really nice meeting my fellow trainees, we’ve already had a few training sessions together and the drinks reception in the Divinity School was a great way to be welcomed to the Bodleian.

A Day in the Life (Joanne Hilliar, St John’s College Library)

9am: Arrive and settle in
This involves checking and responding to emails, both from readers and external researchers, and confirming what’s in the diary for the day. We have a team of graduate invigilators who cover the early morning, evening and weekend shifts in the library, so if they’ve noted any issues or enquiries we’ll follow these up.

9.30am: Shelving
I am responsible for shelving the Arts and Humanities books in the upstairs Laudian Library. While I’m doing this I also ensure that the reading room is tidy for today’s readers.

10.15am: Book Processing
Part of my role is to process new books and journals acquired by the library. For books, this involves giving each item a barcode and shelfmark, before labelling, stamping and covering it. We have our own in-house classification system, and it’s interesting working out where each book should be placed in order to ensure easy accessibility for readers.

11am: Coffee Break

11.15am: Other Projects
I supervise a manuscript reader in the Old Library and use the time to catch up on other general tasks, such as updating the Library Facebook page and creating posters and captions for our new books display, which we change on a termly basis.

12pm: Issue Desk
I cover the issue desk while other members of staff are at lunch, issuing and returning books and dealing with reader enquiries.

1pm: Lunch
I get a free lunch every day, which is a definite advantage of working in one of the Colleges!

2pm: Cataloguing of Spike Milligan Papers
The College has a collection of papers originally belonging to Spike Milligan, which includes original manuscripts and drawings for many of his literary works. I’m cataloguing these to archival standards (this process is somewhat different to library cataloguing so has taken a bit of getting used to!) by describing each individual item in detail and uploading this information to the Archives Hub website. I also add tags and access points (using mainly Library of Congress subject headings) to aid any readers who might be interested in consulting this material.

3.30pm: Law Library
The Law Library is a separate 24 hour study space on the other side of the college, so once a day I head over there to shelve new acquisitions of books and journals and have a general tidy up.

4pm: Tea Break

4.15pm: Exhibition Preparation
For my trainee project I’m working on an exhibition, using the Library’s Special Collections to explore war throughout history. We put on two exhibitions a year in order to give College members a chance to view some of the rare books and manuscripts they wouldn’t generally have access to. My main tasks are to research the items I plan to display and write captions for them, and to design a poster and a handlist to accompany the exhibition. (Note: I wrote this post a while back but forgot to upload it until today, so the exhibition is now up and running!)

5pm: Home

Madeleine Lawson, Law Library

A belated and festive hello from the Bodleian Law Library!

Image courtesy of the Bodleian Libraries
Image courtesy of the Bodleian Libraries

I’m Maddy, one of two trainees here at the Law Bod. (My partner in crime – or rather in fighting it, considering our working environment – is Ben, who I am sure will also introduce himself soon.) I graduated from the University of Warwick in 2010 with a first class degree in History of Art, followed that with a Postgraduate Diploma in the same subject at Edinburgh University, and then went on to spend two years working in a variety of cultural institutions including the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh and Oxford’s own Ashmolean Museum of Art & Archaeology.

With the world of galleries and museums being an extremely competitive field, around this time last year I started to consider whether there might be any other careers I could be interested in pursuing and began a daily ritual of scouring online job listings for inspiration. For quite a while there was nothing that grabbed my attention, but then one afternoon in December – just as I was beginning to resign myself to the idea that working in a museum was the only thing I could ever see myself doing and that my life was therefore destined to become one long string of unpaid internships – I came across the advertisement for the Bodleian Libraries Graduate Traineeship Scheme. Remembering how much I had enjoyed the processes of studying and learning during my time at university, and combining that with my love of the printed word, I decided that it was an opportunity that would definitely be worth exploring.

When I first found out I had been selected for the Law Library, my excitement was mixed with slight trepidation as – apart from stories I had been told by my Grandfather of his adventures as a policeman in South Wales in the fifties – my legal knowledge was basic, to say the least. Term began in a flurry of jargon and loose-leaf filing, as Ben & I muddled along trying our best to hide the fact that we didn’t even know what ‘jurisprudence’ was, let alone where in the library you might find books on the subject. (Oh, and what on earth is tattle-tape?!)

Now, three and a half months into the traineeship, I might not be able to give you the exact definition of jurisprudence but I definitely feel much more confident in my understanding of legal and library terminology. Our colleagues here at the Law Bod have been so helpful and encouraging, and I’m pretty sure I now know where most things are! While Ben is based in the Academic Services department and deals mainly with readers, I work in Technical Services and spend more time with the books. Alongside regular desk duties, I have settled into my routine of receiving the Law Library’s share of the Bodleian’s legal deposit items, processing them (which involves using the mysterious tattle-tape), sending them for cataloguing, labelling them, and passing them all on to Ben for shelving. (I’m sure he’ll tell you himself how much he loves it when I come and clutter up his shelves…) I help Lindsay, our Acquisitions Librarian, with recording orders and invoices, and I’m also responsible for the weekly display of new journals as well as a termly ‘Oxford Authors’ display. More recently, I have taken on the task of creating a list of a collection of constitutions held by the library and coming up with a new shelving arrangement in order to make them more accessible for readers. In the new year, I will also be starting to help with the ‘Bodleian Law Library Institutional Memory Project’ – an initiative aimed at celebrating the library’s 50th anniversary.

All in all, I’m thoroughly enjoying library life and am very much looking forward to learning more about it throughout the rest of the year. For now, however, I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a great start to 2014!