One of the exciting projects we can get involved in as trainees is preparing for and promoting library exhibitions, whether open to the public or exclusively to university staff and students. For LGBT+ History Month, New College Library will be putting on an exhibition on Queer Love & Literature in our collections on 25th February. We have a display case in the main library for small, longer-term exhibitions of about ten items, accessible to college members only. However, this is not suitable for large exhibitions like this one. We therefore book a room in college with enough space for long tables, which also allows us to open our exhibitions to the public. The downside is the room is not secure enough to leave any of our rare books and manuscripts overnight, therefore our large exhibitions are open for one day and one day only! This involves a lot of preparation to make sure we can set up and take down the exhibition as quickly and securely as possible on the day.
However, without people coming to see our wonderful collections, all our preparation would be in vain. For this exhibition, we’ve used some successful promotion tactics from our previous exhibitions as well as some new ones to usher as many people as possible through our doors on the day. First of all is the fun bit, designing a poster for the exhibition on Canva, with a uniform logo we’re using on all of our social media channels. We then sent the design off to a print company to have it printed in A2, A3, and A4. We “launched” the news of our upcoming exhibition on the 19th January on our social media, and sent an email out to the OLIS, Oxford Libraries Information System, mail list. I also changed our Twitter and Facebook profile headers to advertisements for the exhibition. Thanks to my fellow trainees, I sent out some posters to go up in other libraries and increase awareness of the exhibition throughout the university. I also go on a wander around college putting up posters in common areas such as the café/bar and the JCR. I’m also trialling some QR codes, linked to the event page on our website, displayed around the library. The LGBTQ+ Officers for the college’s JCR and MCR do a great job of organising their own events throughout the year such as queer drinks and LGBTQ+ formals, so we let them know about our exhibition so they can spread the word around college.
As our exhibition is for LGBT+ History Month, a campaign founded by Schools OUT to increase the visibility of queer people’s histories and experiences, we added our event to their public calendar. However, we’ve found social media is the most effective method to reach a wider audience outside just New College and the University. On our Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, we’ve been further teasing our exhibition by posting some of the items we’ll be displaying on the day with our exhibition banner underneath to make sure our followers don’t get sick of the same poster over and over again. I have scheduled a sneaky motion graphic to go out in the week before the exhibition, just to add a little spice. We also asked the Lodge to let us put a poster in an A-frame outside the college entrance on Holywell Street on the day to draw in any walk-ins and notify visitors where the exhibition actually is, as New College can be a bit of a maze. We’re quite lucky that our collections speak for themselves, including a 15th-century manuscript copy of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, early printed books relating to King James VI and I, Oscar Wilde’s Ravenna inscribed by the author, and a first-edition copy of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. There might be a few surprise additions on the day as we continue compiling the labels, but we’re hoping to show at least 30 items of queer literature.
We’re quite a small library and our exhibitions only last one day, so we don’t have the same resources and following to generate as much hype as some larger libraries’ incredible exhibitions, such as those at the British or Bodleian libraries, but we try our best! We’re also looking into putting on online exhibitions, so that our collections can be viewed digitally for longer, as it’s a shame they’re only on display for 6 hours at a time. This is the first of our exhibitions that we’ve put in this much work to promote, particularly on social media, so only time will tell if it works.
After forgetting to eat breakfast I start the brisk (and very cold) walk into college. It’s only a 15 minute walk, but I still manage to slip twice on the morning ice on Magdalen Bridge. The New College chapel and old Oxford city wall never fail to look beautiful in the morning. I get distracted and take some photos before heading into the library.
9:00 – 9:30
The start of the day at New College Library usually involves checking my calendar for scheduled events or visitors. I also check to see if anyone has requested items through our hold request system the night before and fetch the books for them ready to collect from the Click-and-Collect trolley in the hall. As it’s the start of the term, the list gets longer and longer every day – I enlist a couple of Sainsbury’s bags to aid me in my quest. I answer any email enquiries the Deputy Librarian didn’t get to first and check to see if anyone has booked our group study room.
We usually have one or two readers per week come to view our special collections. Requests are varied, from Peter Lombard’s 11th-century commentary on the Psalms to our 16th-century Isaac Newton Papers. It’s always exciting when a reader comes to view something that doesn’t often leave its shelf. Last term, a reader came to view an Italian 16th-century women’s beauty manual, which was nice to see go on a little holiday to the Special Collections reading room. If we have a reader booked in, I spend the morning invigilating, essentially making sure people are handling the books with care and not ripping out any pages as souvenirs. Today someone has booked to see our (possibly) 11th-century Harklean Syriac New Testament, which I fetched from the Bell Tower yesterday. It’s a beautiful volume. If anyone reads Syriac and wants to let me know what it says that would be wonderful.
9.30 – 12.30
I show our reader into our Special Collections reading room, make sure they have pencils and paper or a laptop (no pens allowed), and set the manuscript up on a cushion with snake beads. Invigilating today means I have time to work on longer-term projects, such as writing labels for any upcoming exhibitions, working on an article for the library’s e-journal, writing a script for one of our Curator’s Choice videos, helping run our trainee twitter account, or writing a blog post like this one. Next month we’ll be putting on an exhibition on Queer Love and Literature in our collections for LGBTQ+ History Month, so there’s a lot of preparation to be getting on with. We cannot under any circumstances leave a reader alone with a manuscript, so another member of the teams subs in throughout the morning so I can have tea breaks. Topics of tea-break conversation today: the finer points of the art of the pub quiz, the new Queer Britain Museum that’s opened in King’s Cross, and what if J.R.R. Tolkien stood for Jolkien Rolkien Rolkien Tolkien?
12:45 – 13:45
Lunch time! As I’m sure my fellow college trainees have already mentioned, one of the perks of working at a college library is the free hot lunch. While the medieval dining hall at New College is very impressive, we usually eat in the less-intimidating south undercroft. Today’s menu is mushroom & tarragon soup, followed by parsnips, wild mushrooms and smoked tofu with soubise sauce, and an apple frangipane. After eating I take a walk around the cloisters and gardens. Don’t ask what the mound is for, I genuinely have no idea. I then spend the rest of my lunch break in the New College café with my book club read: Bimini Bon Boulash’s autobiography.
13.45 – 15.30
After lunch I get on with everyday tasks such as processing any new acquisitions that come in. We received a couple of boxes of books over lunch from Blackwell’s that I begin unpacking. I immediately process any books requested by students or academics and notify the reader that their book has arrived. I then start to process the rest of the books. This involves attaching them to a bibliographic record on Aleph, choosing an in-house shelfmark for them and stamping them before adding a spine label, RFID tag, and New College bookplate. I then cover the book with a plastic cover – essentially a cutting and sticking job – and put it on the shelving trolley. Most of our new rare and antiquarian acquisitions don’t have an Aleph record, so I apologetically add them to the Assistant Librarian’s pile for cataloguing. I also update our new book display, temporarily rebranded as a ‘Goodbye 2022!’ display, featuring some of the most interesting reads from last year.
This week students are back from their vacation and the library is really quite busy. Our work in term time is therefore a lot more student-focused, and we invest our time in welfare initiatives as well as everyday tasks like ordering and processing new books for our students. On Monday, for example, we put together a display from our Welfare and Wellbeing collection and gave out tea and chocolates for Brew Monday (Blue Monday with a happier twist).
Unlike some of the other college or Bodleian libraries, we don’t actually have a reader enquiries desk, but rather an open-door policy for our office in the main entrance. There are only 4 of us in the office, trying our best to look as unintimidating as possible, so readers can poke their heads around the door if they need anything. One of the best parts of the job is being greeted with gratitude and relief when returning triumphant with a crucial book needed for an essay (usually due on Monday). As most degrees here require weekly essays, we try our utmost to buy and process books for students as fast as humanly possible if its not already in our collection.
15.30 – 16.00
If there are a lot of new books arriving, processing can take up a lot of my day, but today I have a little time to head back over to the Bell Tower to take a look at the final volume of a late-thirteenth-century Bible particularly rich in strange marginalia, such as fish with human heads. I also take a quick look at our 1512 copy of the Malleus Maleficarum, Hammer of Witches. I plan on talking about the book in one of our Curator’s Choice videos, writing an article on it, then perhaps even centring a small exhibition around it . . . Stay tuned. With so many funky manuscripts to look at, I pore through a couple more looking for marginalia and strangely drawn animals to post on our social media.
16.00 – 17.00
In the last hour of the day, I get on with creating content for our social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter). We try to stay quite active on social media, both to showcase our special collections and keep our readers up to date with our new acquisitions, reader services, and any upcoming exhibitions. Our particular focus at the moment is promoting our LGBTQ+ History Month Exhibition, so do come along on 25th February to make my work worthwhile!
After getting distracted making a Twitter Header on Canva, I say my goodbyes and head over to the Rad Cam to get on with some non-library work before making my way to the pub.
Here at New College Library, we put on a number of different book displays each term, ranging from new acquisitions that catch our eye, to showcasing certain awareness campaigns. This week it’s Trans Awareness Week, in which the trans community and its allies highlight the issues faced by trans, non-binary and gender-diverse people, and celebrate those raising awareness. This annual week of observance will culminate in Transgender Day of Remembrance on Sunday, to honour the memory of those whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence. In light of this week-long campaign for trans issues, I pulled together a display of books from our ‘Q’ shelfmark, set up a few years ago by a former trainee, comprised of LGBTQ+ histories, biographies, and fictional works. With so many interesting titles, I thought I’d take the opportunity to showcase a few of my favourite reads!
This memoir by writer and filmmaker, Juliet Jacques, explores the personal story of her transition, while also critiquing 1990s and 2000s trans theory, literature and film. Jacques narrates her journey of self-discovery, giving an in-depth account of her entry into the LGBTQ+ community and her struggles with her identity; ‘I felt trapped not by my body, but by a society that didn’t want me to modify it.’ From her earliest experimentation with her presentation, we learn how films, books, and music that focus on trans identities helped Jacques explore and come to terms with her own identity. In 2012, Jacques chronicled her sex reassignment surgery in the Guardian, hoping to educate others on the harsh reality of transitioning and the importance of trans rights. Jacques’ memoir combines the personal with the political, exploring controversial issues in trans politics and promising to redefine our understanding of contemporary trans lives.
In this dynamic LGBTQ+ history, Jen Manion uncovers the stories of ‘female husbands’, a term from the 18th and 19th centuries that referred to female-assigned individuals who lived as men and married women. Manion recounts the stories of these queer pioneers, who exposed themselves to media sensationalism and, at worst, violence or threat of punishment. Rejecting the notion that reclaiming transness in the past is ahistorical, Manion refuses to define the gender identity of these ‘female husbands’, among them Charles Hamilton, George Johnson, Frank Dubois, walking the line between recovery and historicization. It is precisely this complexity that makes this such a powerful read, forcing us to challenge modern binaries of gender and sexuality as we retrace the histories of our queer ancestors.
Through a number of very personal stories, this book retraces the journey of the trans community in Britain from the margins of society to the visible phenomenon we recognise today. In their own words, trans rights advocates tell the story of the fight for their rights in the face of overwhelming opposition, and it is impossible not to respect their determination. For those interested in the current ongoing discussions about trans rights, this book is an excellent resource, despite being a difficult read at times.
This surrealist novel tells the story of a young, unnamed, transgender woman who lives with other trans women on the Street of Miracles, where different kinds of sex work take place. In response to the murder of another trans woman, the others form a vigilante gang and start attacking men on the street. Kai Cheng Thom herself is a non-binary transgender woman, who, as a writer and poet, exaggerates people from her life as characters in her work. As a response to the trope of transgender memoirs educating cisgender individuals about trans lives, Thom instead wrote Fierce Femmes to be the book that would have best helped her as a transgender teenager.
Hi! I’m Caitlín, the Graduate Trainee at New College Library. The college itself was founded in 1379 by William of Wykeham, and still features a lot of the original medieval architecture, as well as a section of Oxford’s city wall. As a Medieval Studies graduate, one of my favourite things about working here at New College is getting to work so closely with the library’s collection of around 400 medieval manuscripts. Of all the Oxford colleges, more manuscripts remain from New’s medieval library than from that of any other Oxford or Cambridge college.
When I get free time, you can find me in the Bell Tower poring over manuscripts, trying to find the strangest marginalia to post on our social media. My favourite volume has to be the “New College Apocalypse”, an early fourteenth-century illuminated Anglo-Norman prose translation of the Apocalypse of St. John, which I had heard about through the grapevine in my undergraduate and postgraduate studies at UCL.
I hadn’t seriously thought about librarianship until I began researching medieval universities and their libraries, and in doing so developed an interest in the day-to-day running of the contemporary university libraries I spent so much time in as a student. As a medievalist, New College Library seemed like the perfect place to apply for the traineeship. Though my research has mainly concerned late medieval Italian women, there are plenty of incredible volumes to keep me occupied here in a range of different languages: French, Spanish, Greek, German, English, Italian, Latin, Syriac, Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Welsh, Anglo-Norman, Dutch — the list goes on!
My day-to-day work includes processing new acquisitions to the library, setting up exhibitions, helping run our social media accounts, invigilating readers who come to see our special collections, and updating our new books display. It’s also been lovely to attend training sessions, which have given me the confidence to face Aleph — our cataloguing system. It’s been great to meet the other trainees in person and hear about what everyone else is getting up to in their libraries. With new freshers pouring in this month, I’ve been giving induction tours and praying our self-service borrowing machines don’t break. I’ve also been helping write labels for a couple of new exhibitions we’ll be putting on at the end of the month and in November, so there’s a lot to keep me busy for now!
It’s also worth noting that trainees at college libraries get free lunch, and the bar here at New isn’t half bad either — I’ve heard Hugh Grant likes to stop by for a pint or two every now and then…
Special thanks to Josie from the Law Library for the transcription.
What is a college?
Heather (St Edmund Hall): A college is a community of students and staff who are all part of Oxford University, but within the university community they’re also part of their own separate college community. Most colleges have undergraduates and postgraduates, but some colleges are postgraduate only. Some colleges are very big with lots of students and staff, and some are much smaller.
Georgie (St. John’s): Students can get accommodation, catering, and teaching through their college, and as part of that, the college will have its own library.
Jemima (New): There may appear to be some discrepancy between older and newer colleges but they essentially all do the same job for their students. Even though some of them look bigger or older or have a particular reputation, they all serve the same purpose.
How does the library fit into the college?
Jemima: I think generally a college library will cater for most undergraduate academic needs, but from my experience (as a graduate student here) there was more of an expectation that a college library wouldn’t cater for more in-depth academic research. Whether that’s true or not, a college library is definitely more of a centre for undergraduates, perhaps because it’s seen as less overwhelming than a bigger Bodleian library.
Ben (Pembroke): Yes, the library is at it’s heart a hub for students. We have a few postdocs and fellows who use our library, but mostly it’s used by undergraduates and taught postgraduates who all study a wide array of disciplines, reflecting our growing library collection. We’re open 24/7 and the library is also open for all Pembroke staff. Also our library is a space for holding Pembroke’s archives and special collections which attracts visiting researchers and research students.
Heather: It’s definitely more of a direct service for the students, and I think it’s interesting that when people apply to Oxford or Cambridge, they don’t really think about the fact that they’ll have a college library, but it’s actually a really important aspect. It’s really there to cater to a student’s own needs, so at Teddy Hall, for instance, we buy a lot of student requested books, which something you can do through your college library, but is not something Bodleian libraries tend to do.
Lizzie (All Souls): All Souls Library is mainly there for the Fellows* (as there aren’t any undergraduate students at All Souls). The Fellows can request that we buy books, and also if a particular Fellow with a particular research interest is there for a number of years, we can develop a significant collection relating to that interest. But the library does serve a dual purpose because it is also open to external readers. Because the college doesn’t have its own students, if there is a book that is highly requested across the university, or quite expensive, the library will buy that book so that it’s potentially available to all students.
*Fellows are senior members of a college, whose responsibilities typically include teaching, research, administration, and participation in the college’s governance.
Georgie: Another thing to mention is study spaces. College libraries mean that the students who want to use the library can do that somewhere which, in a lot of cases, is near to their accommodation.
Heather: We have height-adjustable desks, and printing and photocopying facilities and they all get used a lot. We’re open 24 hours and you can see from the records that there are people in here throughout day and night.
Jemima: That’s actually a good point: I think a key difference between Bodleian libraries and college libraries is that Bodleian libraries aren’t open as late as college ones. At New, we’re not open 24 hours, but we are open until 2:00 in the morning. I would say that a college library is accessible at most times of day whereas the Bodleian is less so.
Lizzie: At All Souls, all the books are confined so readers can’t borrow them. That means the library is used more as a study space, since it’s very quiet and there are fewer people taking books off shelves, as all the books are locked up (though you can request me to get them for you). The library also serves as a venue for the college for events such as Encaenia, or drink receptions. Sometimes you can be participating in college stuff more than library stuff.
Can you describe your Library in three words?
Heather: Church, friendly, busy.
Ben: Unintimidating, 1970s, welcoming.
Lizzie: Unique, architectural, research.
How many staff members are there in your Library?
Jemima: We have four of us in the main office, basically full-time, then there’s the Archivist, the Curatorial Assistant (who was a trainee last year, and is now part-time), and a Shelving Assistant in the mornings in term time. I think it’s a relatively big team for a college library.
Ben: In the library team, it’s just me and the Librarian, so I often wear multiple hats and juggle jobs such as invigilating researchers, cataloguing, shelving, dissertation-binding, reading list creation, purchasing acquisitions, rare books enquiries, and lots more. Working in a small team is great! There is always something to do, and you gain a well-rounded, and sometimes unexpected experience.
Lizzie: We have a Librarian-in-Charge & Conservator, Senior Assistant Librarian, Assistant Librarian for Digital Resources, and a Graduate Trainee (me!), as well as this, we have the following staff who are part-time: Assistant Librarian for Rare Books, a Clerk to the Archives, and the Serials Librarian (who does cataloguing).
Heather: So, at Teddy Hall, it’s me as the Graduate Trainee, James the Librarian, and Emma who is the Assistant Librarian, and our Archivist, Rob, who is in two days a week. He’s also the Archivist at Oriel and I know that it’s quite common for archivists to be shared across colleges. We also have a Library Fellow on the Library Committee.
Jemima: Yes, I think our Fellow Librarian is involved in important decision-making but I barely see him from day to day. I don’t have very much contact with him at all. It sounds like a similar setup.
Lizzie: I see my Fellow Librarian every day. They do the top-level college stuff and there’s a lot of committees so they sit on those as well.
What’s distinctive about the collection in your Library?
Ben (Pembroke): As much as it is a collection reflecting Pembroke’s history as an institution (Pembroke was founded in 1624), we do have some more rogue objects, often things connected with alumni or past staff, such as Tolkien’s letters (we have an amazing letter where Tolkien writes to a friend that he is starting a book called The Hobbit which he hopes will be a success), Samuel Johnson’s desk, Samuel Johnson’s teapot, a fountain pen used by Lyndon B. Johnson, oh and a WWII Japanese sword!
Jemima (New): We have a very good manuscripts and early printed books special collection – I think that comes with the age and wealth of the college. In fact, about 30-40% of my time is spent invigilating readers who come to use our Special Collections for research.
Heather (St Edmund Hall): Something distinctive about our lending collection is that we have lots of student requests and new acquisitions – we’re working hard to try to diversify what we have. At the moment, I am starting to decolonise our history collection.
What kind of interactions do you have with Library readers?
Heather: Readers ask pretty much anything and everything – I spend about half my time on the issue desk. Our library is in a 12th-century church, so we also have people coming to see the building.
Ben: Fairly, a lot! Questions can be anything from “how do I find this book?” all the way to, “Would it be possible to see ‘x’ manuscript?”. During COVID peaks, when students are self-isolating, I deliver books around college to them. My workspace isn’t usually at an issue desk, but at the start of the year I gave lots of induction talks, so now the readers know who I am. This means they are confident to pop into my office, or stop me around college to ask me questions.
Jemima: We don’t have a specific issue desk (everyone is based in the office), so I don’t interact with readers as much as you two do. But that doesn’t mean they don’t come to the office with questions, mostly if they’re having problems with the self-issue machines or they want to borrow a book but don’t have their Bod (library) card.
How does working in a college compare with your expectations?
Jemima: I hadn’t anticipated how much social media, exhibitions and ‘internal outreach’ work I’d get to do. It’s really nice that so much of my role is about sharing the collection with people in college.
Ben: At Pembroke, the Library and Archives work together a lot of the time, which makes the job all the more fun. I can be climbing ladders in order to hang pictures in the hall one minute, then in the next I can be in the depths of the stacks, then helping out with object talks for students or working with furniture and pictures conservators the next, all the way to reader services enquires. However, I think that’s the product of my library team being so small.
Jemima: Yeah, I think it’s worth saying that I think college library jobs are really varied in terms of what you do and the influence you’re able to have.
Do you get involved with other parts of the College?
Heather: Actually, that’s another thing I was surprised by: you’re part of the College team as well as the Library team. I’ve worked with the Communications team to set up a Library Instagram, and worked with the Housekeeping department on the sustainability project.
Jemima: Although as Graduate Trainee I don’t interact with other departments that often, as a Library and Archives department we collaborate with JCR and MCR committees (similar to a college-based Student Unions) to organise tours, and with the college Warden (i.e. Principal or President) on things like exhibitions.
That concludes our discussion about college library life! We managed to get through the whole thing without mentioning the free college lunches. Oh, no, wait…
The day-to-day life of a graduate library trainee can be really varied, especially in college libraries, and my role at New College Library is no exception. I’ve written about a typical day containing all my usual tasks, but, in reality, what my days look like depends so much on whether the students are on vacation, whether we have an exhibition approaching, or what point in the term we’re at. During vacations, I am freer to work on projects that might otherwise be more disruptive for readers, such as stock checking or re-spacing shelves, or might take me away from my desk in the library office to consult a manuscript in our Special Collections Reading Room, or help to film a video for our Curators’ Choice series.
Although New College Library doesn’t have an information desk, our library office is very open and right next to the library entrance hall so it’s easy for readers to come and ask questions. This is the room where I spend most of my time and the first place I go when I arrive in the morning…
09:00 My day starts with a brief look at my emails and email calendar to see if there’s anything happening that day that I should know about. The thing to look out for is whether we have any readers coming in to look at special collections, as this requires a bit of preparation. Then I log on to the college intranet to book my (free!) lunch.
09:15 Then it’s time to retrieve the Click and Collect requests from the library shelves. This was an initiative started in the pandemic when library use was more restricted, but it remains popular, so we’ve decided to keep it going. Every morning I pick up a selection of requested books, and leave them, labelled, on a trolley in the entrance hall for readers to collect.
10:00 After these initial morning tasks, I have more flexibility to structure my own day. At this point in the morning, I might take a trip to the bell tower in college, to pick up some manuscripts or early printed books. Readers come in to consult items from our special collections at least once or twice a week and one of my jobs is to collect items from the bell tower so that they can temporarily be stored in our Special Collections Reading Room. When this room is being used, there is always a member of library staff present to help with enquiries and keep an eye on the rare books. If I’m doing this, I can do stationary and laptop-based tasks as well, like checking reading lists against our collections, or writing blog posts like this one!
10:30 If there’s no one looking at special collections, I’ll spend the rest of my morning getting on with work in the library office. Being based here means I’m often needed to respond to readers’ questions, but, when I’m not doing that, I work on creating posts for our social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) plan for displays or exhibitions, or write some exhibition captions.
13:00 It’s lunch time! After I’ve eaten there’s often time to go into town to run a few errands, but, once the weather warms up, I’m looking forward to being able to enjoy the sunshine in the gardens at college.
14:00 Sometimes, generally in the afternoons, we host private viewings of the best parts of our special collections, either for societies or as part of a course module. These are really fun to set up as we get an in-depth look at so many great manuscripts all at once, and it’s a highlight of my job to then be able to share them with such enthusiastic readers.
If we have no out of the ordinary events happening in the afternoon, I can devote my attention to the post and unpacking all the new books, which have usually arrived by this time of day. The size of delivery can hugely vary: the most I’ve dealt with at once has been about 40 books, but normally it’s between five and ten books. The journey of a book from parcel to library shelf (also known as ‘processing’) is one in which I’ve invested many hours, but, in a nutshell, I unpack the books, write an accession card for them, catalogue them (if I can), stamp, tag, label, and cover them, and they’re ready to go!
16:30 Once I’ve finished book processing, there’s usually a bit of time to tidy up any unfinished tasks from the morning and clear any expired Click and Collect requests from the trolley, until it’s time to go home at 17:00.
With the holidays fast approaching, decorations have started to appear in the Libraries and a festive spirit is in the air. For some of our Graduate Library Trainees, it has been the perfect opportunity to reflect on the year so far, and talk about some of the highlights of their role.
Heather Barr, St Edmund Hall
We brought Christmas to St Edmund Hall’s Old Library this year with a display of books and archive materials with fun festive facts and college celebrations throughout the years. Our display includes beautiful wintery paintings, including one of Teddy Hall’s Front Quad in Snow (1966), given to Principal Kelly by the artist, Alexandra Troubetzkoy (see right). Our Old Library is home to the first scientific publication to interrogate the shape of snowflakes (see left): Johannes Kepler’s C. Maiest. mathematici strena seu De niue sexangula (1611) (SEH Shelfmark 4° G 18(6)).
Keplerconjectures that they must be formed as such to optimise their tessellation, like a honeycomb. Or, perhaps there is some quality in the water that causes them to freeze in their signature hexagonal shape? Most importantly, he identifies a link between the shape of snowflakes and other crystalline formations in rocks.
And, of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas without some cards! We showcased Christmas cards from the Archives, collected and saved by Principal Emden during the Second World War (see right). These cards were sent from all over the world,including from H.M.S. Satellite, a naval ship in the middle of the ocean. Some have rather topical designs, such as a bull charging Hitler, or the three wise men being guided by a shining Intelligence Corps crest! Today, these cards serve a positive reminder that even in the midst of worldwide suffering and disaster, small messages of hope and love can go a long way.
Izzie Salter, Sackler Library
As term draws to a close, the Sackler Library has become quieter and quieter. Between issuing books on the main desk, my colleague and I have donned it with decorations. Crafted out of library paraphernalia – who knew archival tying tape could be so versatile – I hope this has brought some cheer to our more loyal readers, staying here until closure. To those based locally to the Sackler, do walk past the Ashmolean one evening. It looks beautiful this time of year.
My first term as a trainee has been wonderfully varied. I have been so fortunate to work on some amazing projects at the library, as well as spending time learning alongside my fellow trainees. A few highlights of this term include presenting Japanese photography books (which I have researched regularly over the past 3 months) at the History of Art Show and Tell, working with the trainees to produce Black History reading recommendations, and learning about conservation and special collections at the Weston Library. I can’t wait to see what the new year brings, after a restful Christmas break.
Jemima Bennett, New College Library
New College Library Christmas started particularly early, even by Oxford standards, as by mid-November we had begun to put together a Christmas exhibition, and our Twitter advent calendar, choosing items and writing captions. I have also spent several very enjoyable afternoons wrapping books for our Surprise Christmas Loan scheme, as well as decorating our Christmas tree, and helping create an iconic book sculpture (pictured here). This term has been a blast – a wide-ranging and really relevant set of training sessions, an excellent trainee cohort, and being able to work with such beautiful manuscripts are definitely some highlights.
Lucy Davies, Social Science Library
At the SSL, we got into the Christmas mood by celebratingChristmas Jumper Day.Wearing our best festive jumpers (and masks!), we raised £142 for Save the Children. A highlight of this term has been the training sessions every week and gaining an insight into all the different jobs within the Bodleian Libraries. I especially loved the trip to the Conservation Studio at the Weston Library! I also really enjoy seeing the variety of books that arrive from the BSF every day and talking to readers about their research.
Georgie Moore, St John’s College Library
If you are following any Libraries, Museums, or Archives on Twitter, you’ll probably have noticed the annual December deluge of Christmassy content.
Outside of term time, I’m responsible for scheduling one Tweet a week, so I have been prowling our catalogue for festive material. Drafting a Tweet was part of the application process for this Trainee position, but even still I didn’t realise quite how much thought goes into maintaining a consistent tone and diversity of content.
Here are three of the tweet ideas that didn’t make the cut in December (and why not):
1. A Christmas Carol is a festive favourite for many, but Charles Dickens also contributed other seasonal stories to volumes like Mugby Junction: the extra Christmas number of All the year round (Vet.Engl.76). The small font and lack of illustrations aren’t very eye-catching for a Twitter photograph, but these advertisements provide a wintery window into Victorian buying habits: juvenile gift books, patented pickles and miniature billiards. (see left)
2. ‘The Exaltation of Christmas Pye’ – this might be cheating, but the only reason I haven’t shared this is because I didn’t find it! There are some highly quotable moments in this 17th-century mock-sermon (HB4/3.a.5.8(23)) such as when the author elevates the invention of
Christmas plum pies to the same level as ‘Guns and Printing’.
3. The Psalter (MS 82) includes some beautiful medieval illustrations. I’d wanted to caption this ‘When the waiter brings the final bill to the table after the work Christmas do’ but given the cancellation of so many Christmas parties this festive season, that felt like rubbing salt in the wound. (see left)
Josie Fairley Keast, Bodleian Law Library
Although I enjoy handling books as much as the next librarian, a surprising highlight for mehas been working with various forms of online resource provision.(This is perhaps less surprising to anyone who has had to listen to me talk about scanning recently).Fromtracking down resources for reading lists and LibGuides to navigating copyright restrictionsandexploring the UK Web Archive,I’ve really enjoyed my traineeship so far, and I’mlooking forward to getting more involved with certain areas in the new year.During a recentweekend shift, I was entrusted with decorating the LawBod Christmas tree – picturedis our resident angel,which I’m told was handmade by a previous trainee.
Sophie Lay, English Faculty Library
J. R. R. Tolkien and Nevill Coghill have donned now their gay apparel – the former in a classic Santa hat and the latter in a crown of golden holly tinsel – and the festive season has fully hit the English Faculty Library. As Graduate Trainee, it’s my job to decorate the library with the aforementioned festive headgear, as well as paper chains, miniature Christmas trees, and seasonal rubber ducks to join our regular desk companion, Bill Shakespeare.
The end of term has also left a little more time for reflection on the past few months. I’d be delighted to share with you just one of the parts of my job that I’ve enjoyed the most since starting here at Bodleian Libraries. Not to be incredibly corny, but interactions with readers really do add a delightful element to your average desk-shift. From friendly and familiar faces to unexpected compliments to charming lost-and-found items (including returning a child’s hand-written note which read ‘momy I luv yoo’), there is so much joy to be had in interacting with readers.
I’ll leave you off with a final festive treat. I’ve done some digging through the rare book room and have uncovered a little treasure. While it’s not the genuine article, we do have a delightful facsimile of Dicken’s original manuscript for A Christmas Carol, in his own handwriting and with his own edits – including his signature looping and cross-hatching. Just holding it makes me feel more festive!
Emily Main, History Faculty Library
The end of term was definitely noticeable in the library as students started heading home for their holidays. However, the arrival of Warner Brothers and the closure of the Upper Camera for filming has made for an interesting end before the Christmas closure. As well as being dazzled by extremely bright lights when sitting at reception and dodging crowds of fans, we’ve had to implement a book fetching service for books in the Upper Camera and trundle our BSF book crates on a circuitous route through the Old Bod and Gladstone Link! I have loved getting to know the trainees and the team here and enjoyed the variety of my role. A highlight of the role for me has been answering enquiries of readers that require me to dive into a search and investigate their question, for example, in helping them to locate primary resources.
Ben Elliott, Pembroke College Library
Christmas is here, and it is time to reflect. This term has flown by, but it’s been a good one. Pembroke’s library consists of the librarian, me and the archivist and because it is a small team it has meant my traineeship has been distinctly unique and varied. For instance, I have delivered a library induction to visiting fellows from Pembroke’s ‘The Changing Character of War Centre’ which involved talking to a room of senior military officers and a UN advisor… definitely not daunting at all! As well, I have met some truly fascinating and brilliantly eccentric individuals along the way, some even coming as far as from Utah.
It’s been particularly fun getting acquainted with Pembroke’s special collections, rare books and art collection and sharing them with students through object sessions and talks… especially when a talk discusses a naturalist’s book in our collection which attempts to convince readers that the platypus is, in fact, a real animal despite it looking odd!
Working with the college art has been brilliant. Inspecting the conditions of the college oil paintings with a freelance art conservator and the college archivist was a highlight. Staring at a painting of a 19th-century fellow whilst listening to ghost stories of said fellow is a moment I never expected in this job, but an enjoyable surprise, nonetheless.
Juliet Brown, Old Bodleian Library
As the year draws to a close, it is nice to see everyone getting excited about the holiday season. The decorations have gone up in the Bod, and it wouldn’t be Christmas without the Old School Quadrangle Christmas tree in pride of place.
As everyone gets ready to head home for the holidays, it is also a nice time to reflect on my first few months at the Old Bod, and the experiences that have shaped my role as the trainee in this incredible building. I have been very lucky to work within an incredibly supportive team, who put up with my constant questions and have made me feel at home in my new role. As the Old Bod trainee, I have been very fortunate in having an extremely varied working schedule. From duties in reader services (answering enquiries, issuing and returning books, leading tours, shelving, assisting with book deliveries, completing book scans), through to the more technical aspects of the role (helping with interlibrary loans, book processing, preparing books for repair, relabelling), my role has allowed me to complete an extremely diverse range of tasks. In addition, my manager has been keen for me to take on my own responsibilities, which have included designing new posters for the Lower Gladstone Link, creating instructional sheets for the evening team and rehoming a cupboard of abandoned books.
A highlight of the traineeship is the opportunity to take part in sessions designed to expand our knowledge about the various areas that make up librarianship. We have learnt about the technical skills needed for cataloguing, the complex world of Open Access, the importance of social media skills, and discovered the digital tools available to students and researchers at the University. In addition, the traineeship has allowed us to visit the Weston (for an insight into the role of the conservation team and special collections) and even spent an afternoon at the BSF.
I can’t wait to see what the New Year brings, both in terms of training and with my role, after a very restful break at home with my family, dog and lots of good food.
Prompted by Black History Month, we trainees have come together to share contributions from Black voices across our libraries and different disciplines. We invite you to look through our selection, consider them through the coming months, and continue celebrating Black history within your reading throughout the year.
Lizzie Dawson, All Souls College Library
Amo, Anton Wilhelm, & Abraham, W. E., Inaugural philosophical dissertation on The “[apatheia]” of the human mind, Accra: Department of Philosophy, University of Ghana. (Psych.18)
While researching All Souls Library’s collection, I found this translation presented by All Souls’ first African-born Prize Fellow, William Abraham (born 1934).
At first sight, this unbound dissertation is easy to overlook, tucked away on the shelves in the book stacks, but it too is an example of a first.
This document is a translation into English by Abraham of a dissertation by Anton Wilhelm Amo (c. 1700-c. 1750) – born in what is now Ghana, enslaved, and then gifted to the Duke of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel – he became the first African person to earn a PhD in philosophy at a European university.
On the 16th of April, 1734, at the University of Wittenberg, Amo defended his dissertation, De Humanae Mentis Apatheia (On the impassivity of the human mind), in which he investigates the logical inconsistencies in René Descartes’ (1596-1650) res cogitans (mind) and res extensa (body) distinction and interaction. One of the 18th century’s most notable Black philosophers, Amo went on to teach philosophy at the Universities of Halle and Jena. You can read the original version of the dissertation with an English translation here.
An influential champion for the cause of abolition, Amo ultimately became embattled by racism and opposition to his beliefs. In 1747, he sailed back to present-day Ghana, where he remained for the rest of his life.
Lorde, Audre, Sister Outsider, London: Penguin, 2019. (DE / POL / 261 / LOR)
Audre Lorde (1934-1992) self-defined as a “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet”. She was also a School Librarian in New York during the 1960s. As a feminist and activist for the rights of Black and LGBTQ people, Lorde directly challenged white feminists and Black male intellectuals who neglected the experiences of Black and lesbian women.
Although the term ‘intersectionality’ was not coined until the late 1980s, Lorde’s work repeatedly stressed the danger of neglecting differences between women. Sister Outsider (1984) features essays and speeches including her landmark “The Master’s Tools Will Not Dismantle the Master’s House.” In this essay, Lorde argues that although women have been taught to use these differences to separate themselves from other women, or else ignore them, it is only by acknowledging these differences that women’s oppression can be understood and overcome.
Lorde also comments that women are expected to educate men, and Black women are expected to educate white feminists. Reading and listening to the voices of Black women helps people of all races and genders understand how Black women’s experiences are impacted by race, gender, sexuality, class, and age, but relies upon the emotional labour of often marginalised writers. As Lorde writes, poetry is the most accessible and economical form of literature because it can be written ‘between shifts, in the hospital pantry, on the subway and on scraps of surplus paper’. Her perspective challenged me to reconsider poetry, a form I had often associated with elite white male writers, a legacy perhaps of the kind of poets still studied most widely in schools.
Sister Outsider is part of our Diversity & Equality Collection, which showcases writing by and about people in underrepresented and marginalized groups. This collaborative project began last year, with members from across the College making book recommendations. The Collection includes various disciplines, from History and Politics, to Classics, Music, Languages and more. My predecessor as Graduate Trainee was involved with the beginning of the Collection, helping reclassify items in the existing Library catalogue and acquire new material. Now, when I process our latest acquisitions, I am involved in helping the Collection grow.
Babalola, Bolu. Love in Colour: Mythical Tales From Around the World, Retold. London: Headline, 2021. (S33 BAB:Lov (A))
“It’s important to be able to see Black people and people of colour in love – and in these hopeful contexts that aren’t mired with darkness and strife […] reality is that we’re just living our lives and we’re falling in love as Black people”
(Bolu Babalola, ‘Interview: Bolu Babalola on Love, Diversity, Redefining Romance’ (2020)
Joining the Black History Month 2021 campaign ‘Proud to Be’, Teddy Hall Library worked closely with student BAME Officer Jeevi Bali (2019, Jurisprudence) to showcase Black authors this October. Bolu Babalola’s debut book Love in Colour was one of the books bought new for a display specifically celebrating Black British authors.
In Bolu’s own words, Love in Colour is a“step towards decolonizing tropes of love”. Through brand-new tales and retellings of love stories from history, folklore and mythology, Bolu explores love as at once intrinsically universal, and complexly personal. We move with Bolu and her characters across time, continents and genres; as she brings together West African folklore, her own bad date experiences, Greek mythology, and her parents’ romance. Perhaps most moving in the collection is Bolu’s attention questions of sight. Who is seen, who wants to be seen, who is allowed to see, are questions which circle all love stories, and they are questions which Bolu beautifully considers and handles throughout her collection. For Bolu, Love in Colour is at its core about romance. To potential readers, she says: “If you like romance, you’ll like this book; it’s as simple as that”.
Himid, Lubaina, Lisa Panting, and Malin Ståhl. Lubaina Himid: Workshop Manual. London: Koenig Books, 2018 (N6797.H5635 A4 LUB 2018)
‘Using her theatre background Himid construct ambiguous scenes, at times populated and other times not. We are not quite sure if what we are presented with is a safe place or a place of danger, if the protagonists are under threat or are in control of the situation. The vibrant colours and beautiful patterns, clothes and landscapes attract the viewer into situations that are not yet fixed. Himid’s protagonists are mostly black, and well dressed in clothes that point us to different moments and contexts; inviting us to consider our position and role in histories and what we subsequently do with them.’
(‘Introduction’, Lisa Panting and Malin Ståhl, p 52)
Lubaina Himid is a Zanzibarian-born British painter, based in Preston. She has spent the course of her career exploring untold stories and Black history through reams of colour and carefully-composed figures. Indeed, her singular work championing Black creativity, institutionally obscured throughout history, lead to Himid winning the Turner Prize 2017. She was the first Black female artist to win the prize, and continues to celebrate other Black artists through her work in curation and activism.
Lubaina Himid: Workshop Manual is a collection of Himid’s work and writings, encompassing over four decades of canvas painting, cut-out figures, and installation art. Although varied, her works tie together in a kaleidoscope of colour and vibrancy. Readers can see British crockery overpainted with maps, faces, and west African patterns; selected pages of The Guardian show how images and words connect in the press to harm perceptions of Black identity; painted planks of wood which celebrate the importance of one’s own past, which she reflected on when travelling in South Korea. Each are incredibly meaningful and evocative. Unfailingly, her works prompts viewers to consider hidden narratives of Black history within British culture and beyond. This is the crux of Himid’s work, creating an internal response within others and reminding them of the true world they live in.
The Manual includes ‘The Lost Election Posters’, a series of paintings mimicking typical political campaigns. Himid intends – and successfully, too – to evoke questions of who is represented across powerful institutions. In her own words, the later part of the series ‘are essentially portraits of potential power’ (see photographed). These comprise some of my personal favourites in the book, and I would recommend anyone in the Sackler taking time to appreciate it.
‘I make this work, and have always made it, for other black women. These conversations are and have always been important. I want to show that our lives are complex yet ordinary, filled with the same weight of what has been done to us but at the same time normal and boring too’ (‘A Conversation between Lubaina Himid, Lisa Panting and Malin Ståhl, Hollybush Gardens’, p 293-299)
You can read more about Lubaina Himid here: https://lubainahimid.uk/
Marechera, Dambudzo. The House of Hunger. Harlow: Heinemann,2009. (LIT/MAR)
‘My whole life has been an attempt to make myself the skeleton in my own cupboard. I have been an outsider in my own biography, in my country’s history, in the world’s terrifying possibilities.’
Novelist, short story writer, and poet, Dambudzo Marechera (1952-1987) was born in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. A student at New College, Oxford, from 1974, he was eventually sent down after a turbulent two years and repeated clashes with staff and students. Shortly afterwards, in 1978, his first book, The House of Hunger, was published, winning the 1979 Guardian Fiction Prize. Two more of Marechera’s books were published in his lifetime,Black Sunlight(1980), Mindblast(1984), with three others, including a collection of poetry, published posthumously.
The House of Hunger, a collection of short stories, consists of nine interlinked stories concerning Marechera’s childhood and youth in a Rhodesian slum, with the rest of the stories focusing on his time in Oxford. Marechera leaves his readers in no doubt of the sense of otherness and alienation which he felt while he was in Oxford: the story, ‘Black Skin What Mask’, begins with the statement ‘my skin sticks out a mile in all the crowds here’. His writing has been described as abrasive and he himself called his experience of writing in English, rather than his first language Shona, as a matter of ‘discarding grammar, throwing syntax out, subverting images from within, beating the drum and cymbals of rhythm, developing torture chambers of irony and sarcasm, gas ovens of limitless black resonance.’
‘“I got my things and left” is the coolest opening line in African fiction. Marechera is nothing like any African writer before him’ (Helon Habila)
All quotations taken from The House of Hunger (see reference).
Boakye, Jeffrey. Black, Listed: Black British Culture Explored. London: Dialogue Books, 2019. (HT1581.BOA 2019)
“Call me Black and you’ll remind me that, racially, I’m everything I’m not, which makes me everything I am. Call me Black and I won’t even flinch because I’m so used to calling myself Black that it’s become the invisible lens. A perspective that has hardened into an objective truth. Call me Black and I’ll welcome the definition, despite the fact that it denigrates just as much as it defines. Call me Black and I’ll flinch. Call me Black and I won’t even flinch.”
Black, Listed by Jeffrey Boakye is an exploration of Black British culture through the descriptors used by and for Black people in the UK. Boakye examines how words and labels can reinforce stereotypes or alternatively create a sense of community. He explores 21st Century Black British identity through an analysis of pop culture and autobiographical anecdotes. The book begins with Boakye recalling how he’s “been Black since about 1988”, the first time that he was made aware of the “otherness” of his skin colour by his classmates in primary school. The theme of Black identity in the UK being perceived as an otherness runs deep throughout the book, as Boakye explores how the Black British community has been represented, oppressed, celebrated and discriminated against.
Touching on everything from the Grime scene to global Black history and the experiences of the Windrush generation, Boakye provides an accessible and entertaining yet raw and insightful view of what it means to be Black in Britain today. I would recommend it to anyone looking to question what purpose labels serve, and in what ways they can be helpful and in what ways they isolate.
Marson, U. & Donnell, A., 2011. Selected poems, Leeds: Peepal Tree Press. (PR9265.9.M37 A6 MAR 2011)
Una Marson was born in 1905 in Saint Elizabeth, Jamaica. By the time she first left Jamaica, she had published two poetry collections, founded the feminist periodical Cosmopolitan, and wrote her first play and had it staged. She bought her first ticket to London in 1932, but moved back and forth between Jamaica and London multiple times throughout her life. Outside of poetry, her career was busy and varied, with highlights including:
Author and Director of the first Black production on the West End with her play At What Price.
Editor of and Contributor to The Keys, the journal of the League of Coloured Peoples (of which she was a prominent member)
Head of the West Indies Service for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
Founder of the BBC’s ‘Caribbean Voices’.
Speaker at the conference of the British Commonwealth League
Speaker at the conference of the International Alliance for Women’s Suffrage and Equal Citizenship
Secretary to Haile Selassie (Emperor of Ethiopia) during his exile to London
In the words of Alison Donnell, editor of this collection, Marson is not often enough noted as the “women poet whose works pioneered the articulation of gender and racial oppression, brought Jamaican vernacular voices alongside a Wordsworthian passion for nature, and ventured to give subjectivity to powerless and marginalised subjects.” (p.11) This collection pulls together a broad selection of her work (published and unpublished) to try to present a complete picture of Marson’s poetics – as contrasting as it is enlightening.
In total, Marson published four poetry collections. Her work as a poet is as varied as her life, with a wide range of influences from European forms and models of her earlier work to the use of blues forms and dialect in her later work. Thematically speaking, her poetry often focused on Black representation, gender politics, religion, immigration, nature, love, Jamaica, and war. Despite the heavy topics, she often dwells on beauty, hope, and the uplifting. See this extract, for example, from the deceptively titled ‘Black Burden’ (pp.146-147):
Black girl – what a burden –
But your shoulders
Black girl – what a burden –
But your courage is strong –
Black girl your burden
Will fall from your shoulders
Una Marson: Selected Poems is now available to loan from the English Faculty Library, newly acquired this month.
Marson, U. & Donnell, A., 2011. Selected poems, Leeds: Peepal Tree Press.
Snaith, A. (2014) “Una Marson: ‘Little Brown Girl’ in a ‘White, White City,’” in Modernist Voyages: Colonial Women Writers in London, 1890–1945. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 152–174. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139018852
Hello, I’m Jemima, the trainee at New College Library. After a month of working here, my favourite element so far has been my involvement with the special collections. As a Classics graduate, I’m constantly looking for ways to put my four years of studying dead languages into practice, not always easy beyond university. At New College, however, I have been able to use my Latin to help to choose an image of one of our manuscripts for a Christmas card. I read and translated the Latin texts to check whether their meanings were appropriate for Christmas, rather than one of the more challenging, or perhaps less festive, Bible passages.
I’ve had a fantastic time this morning, helping to make a video for our Curators’ Choice series, which will go out next term. This video focused on the Atlas of the countries of England and Wales, produced by Christopher Saxton in 1579 – the first atlas created of any country! I’ve always loved poring over old maps and I felt so lucky to be able spend time with this fascinating book.
My Classics degrees (from Exeter and Oxford) and my experience of working in a county museum were definitely key factors that directed me towards library work, especially in special collections. Most recently, I’ve been working in a reception/admin role at a GP surgery, an experience which was really valuable in showing me how much I enjoy working directly with people. I’m very much looking forward (albeit with some apprehension) to when the students return for term time and there can (hopefully) be more face-to-face contact.
Apart from work with special collections, my day-to-day work includes processing new acquisitions to the library, helping to run our social media accounts, dealing with readers’ requests for specific books, and updating our new books display. It’s also been lovely to be able to attend training sessions, and meet the other trainees, in person. I’m excited to learn more about librarianship and to see where the year takes me.
Hello, I’m Liz and I am the Graduate Trainee at New College library.
I did my BA in Film Studies at King’s College London, and for the last two years, I have worked in public libraries across Somerset.
Working in a college means I have a mixed bag of responsibilities. Like my fellow trainees, my job involves a lot of processing new items, shelving, respacing books, and assisting readers. As the College library is the first point of contact for our students I’ve found I have had to answer a broad spectrum of enquiries, and I’ve had to learn more about all of the Bodleian libraries so that I can point readers in the right direction for their subject-specific needs.
New College holds a large, beautiful collection of rare manuscripts and incunabula (early printed books) and we are very proud of the collection. A significant portion of my workload, therefore, involves traipsing across College and climbing the steps of our 14th Century Bell Tower to fetch requested materials and bring them back to the library. (The interior of the Bell Tower was redesigned as a temperature-controlled storage space in 1996, and is much less pretty on the inside.)
Last week I helped my supervisor put on an exhibition of our musically-themed volumes for a group of music teachers. I have been told to expect many more such exhibitions, and currently, we are working on a New College Women display to showcase the excellent work of our prominent female alumnae.
I’m really enjoying my post so far, as it’s a nice mix of office work and reader interaction. Plus taking part in exhibitions and photography has given me a creative outlet which I wasn’t expecting.