Hannah, Sainsbury Library

Hi, I’m Hannah, and I’m the Graduate Trainee at the Sainsbury Library, part of the Saïd Business School. With its distinctive green ziggurat tower, the Business School is an interesting contemporary addition to Oxford’s classic skyline. The library provides study space and resources to support the School’s various programmes, including the MBA, MSc in Finance & Economics, MSc in Law & Finance, BA in Economics & Management and Executive Education courses.

Autumn colours at Oxford Said Business School
Autumn colours at Oxford Said Business School

The start of my traineeship was relatively quiet, as the lower reading room was closed to readers whilst refurbishment took place. During the replacement of the carpets, venturing out of the office was like entering a maze, as furniture kept shifting to different positions and you never knew where it was safe to walk! As well as a new carpet, reading room now has a new layout, power cubes on all the group tables and some smart red dividers to screen off group work areas from individual study desks.

The portrait of Lord Sainsbury oversees the library refurbishment
The portrait of Lord Sainsbury oversees the library refurbishment

Since then, the library has reopened and welcomed in a new cohort of students. I have now started working on the helpdesk, which has become increasingly busy, but this means that I am learning a lot about how the library works and getting to put it into practice straight away. My Sainsbury Library colleagues have been incredibly supportive in answering all my questions and helping me to settle in! Alongside desk shifts, I’ve been involved in library induction events (also known as the iChallenge – read a report I co-wrote about this here), processing new books, assembling welcome packs for faculty members, creating new signage, carrying out book repairs and updating the online research repository. All this alongside a range of full- and half-day training sessions with the other trainees, I can’t believe how much has fitted into just eight weeks!

MBA students discover library resources through competing in the iChallenge

Before moving to Oxford to start the traineeship, I worked for several years as a teaching assistant in a busy primary school and nursery, following a combined honours degree in Social Sciences at Durham University. As a TA, I had the privilege of helping children take their very first steps on their journey as readers, learning the basic skills that, once acquired, we often take for granted, but which open the door to a vast wealth of information about the world. This also involved the daily administration and care of the reading scheme, which I got to know extremely well (some texts off by heart!), and selecting the right books to meet individuals’ needs. My final project before I left was a grand tidy-up and reclassification of the entire reading book collection – a daunting but somewhat satisfying assignment! I think it was these combined experiences of working with books and helping readers which led me to apply for the trainee scheme. Now I just have to get used to readers who are a little taller, books which are a little weightier, and shelfmarks that say HD59.2 OXF 2012 instead of Purple Ladybird or Blue Star…

One quality that four-year-old school beginners and university students seem to have in common (at least, on a good day…) is a readiness to learn new things through all the channels available to them. This year I will endeavour to imitate this myself, and absorb as much knowledge as I can as the year progresses. I’m excited to see where it will take me!

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!

Jamie Stokes, Sainsbury Library

So I’m halfway through week two here at the Sainsbury Library (based in the Saïd Business School) and so far so good. Currently I’m sat at the enquiry desk by myself for the first time, and with only one person using the library just now I think it’s safe to say it’s pretty quiet. So far (touch wood) there have been no enquiries, though I feel it’s only a matter of time…

Other duties of the Graduate Trainee at the Sainsbury Library (according to previous trainee Emily who left a very thorough handover including a list of places to eat and get drunk) include putting together welcome packs for new members of staff in the Business School, processing new books and journals, weeding old journals, sorting out overdue book records, mending books, reclassifying books, making shelfmark posters and sorting out a variety of emails. So far I’ve made three welcome packs and done a little book and journal processing, which was pretty fun. I think I’m looking forward to term starting but at the same time I’m pretty glad it’s a few weeks away yet.

New workplace — the Saïd Business School

I ended up exploring librarianship as a career somewhat unexpectedly after spending five years at Liverpool John Moores University doing an undergraduate and then postgraduate degree in Creative Writing. Plan A had always been to write for a living in whatever manner possible, which, after a brief stint as a freelance writer for a dodgy Hungarian internet start-up, led me to work which definitely did not involve writing, in a pub kitchen desperately trying to make ends meet and hating every second of it. Then I saw an advert for an internship at Gladstone’s Library, which was pretty much an excuse to escape from the kitchen and live in a humongous residential library for what turned out to be six of the best months of my life. This involved some awesome people, a really wide-ranging experience of typical (and non-typical) library work, free attendance at a load of fantastic lectures and events, an awful lot of gin, and two free two-course meals a day! After that experience applying for the post in Oxford seemed the obvious thing to do, so here I am.

Gladstone’s Library — one of the very best places on Earth

The only thing to do now is enjoy the rest of the year, get to know Oxford a bit, and prepare for the next step (whatever exactly that may be…)

Library Trainee Day in the Life (Emily Delahaye, Sainsbury Library)

Hi everyone! Last year the trainees blogged about a typical day in the life in their respective libraries so I thought I would do the same – this is what my day as a trainee generally looks like!

8.30 am – Arrive at the library and settle in. Once a week I open up the library – this involves picking up copies of the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal to put in the library, emptying the book return box, sweeping the library for lost property and books left on desks, and checking that all the lights are switched on and that there is paper in the printers.

8.45 am – The whole team helps to shelve books that were put into the book return box overnight. If its term time, then we can have quite a few shelves of books to sort through, but everyone working together makes this quite a speedy process!

9.00 am – 10.15 am – Every day I spend four hours on the enquiry desk, either in the morning or after lunch. If I’m on the desk in the morning, I first sort through all the emails in the library inbox, forwarding them on to the relevant people or responding to them myself. When the post arrives there might be new issues of journals or new books for me to process and label, which is a task I quite enjoy.

10.15 am – Normally on my morning break I will go down and get a coffee in the excellent cafe we have in the Said Business School.

10.30 am – 1.00 pm – After my break I will continue to work on the enquiry desk. During term time I will be mainly dealing with student enquiries. Typical enquiries I receive include: how to find a book in the library, how to get access to one of the electronic databases we subscribe to, how to use the printing system and how to order books from the Bodleian Storage Facility (BSF). Around this time in the morning, the books students have previously ordered from the BSF will arrive, so I will check these in and lock them away securely.

1.00 pm – 2.00 pm – Lunch break!

2.00 pm – 5.00 pm – In the afternoon, if I’m not on the enquiry desk I will be at my own desk in the library office. During these hours I work on various projects, such as helping with the reclassification of parts of the library to the library of congress system. Otherwise, I might be uploading files to the library’s student project database, where current students can read their predecessors’ dissertations which helps with writing their own. Recently we had a book sale in the library, so I spent some time making a list of everything we were selling, so we could keep track, and also taking pictures of the books so we could advertise them to students.

I’m over half way through my traineeship now and I’m still really enjoying working at the Sainsbury Library – my colleagues are very encouraging and have often let me be part of the work they do, which has given me a detailed insight into the world of librarianship!

Am update from the Sainsbury Library

It’s now almost the end of Week One of Hilary Term – it’s been quite nice seeing the return of the students to the library after it was so quiet over Christmas, although I am now constantly answering questions on the enquiry desk!

At the moment I am working on updating signs and labels in the library so that they have the right logos and information, which is a useful way to remind myself of all the library procedures.

I am in the process of applying to library school at the moment. Last term we had a session on the variety of different LIS courses out there which was very useful. There are lots of different ways to study the courses – full-time, part-time and long distance – and the courses focus on different elements of librarianship, so lots of research was needed!

The training last year was great as it introduced me and the other trainees to how a huge library system like Oxford works – we have more training sessions coming up this term (as well as field trips!) so I’m looking forward to those.

Emily Delahaye, Sainsbury Library (Saïd Business School)

Said Business School Amphitheatre
Said Business School Amphitheatre

Hi there! I’m the graduate trainee at the Sainsbury Library. A bit on my background – in July I graduated from the London School of Economics with a BA in History. I had no experience of working in a library prior to starting this job, which I was quite worried about! However, I worked in a department store for two and a half years so I have good experience of customer-service and managing stock. I have also done two work experience spells in archives (Westminster City Council and the National Theatre’s) and it will be very interesting to compare these with working in a library.

So far I feel I have settled in well – my colleagues are all very nice (and patient!) and the Sainsbury Library is a very lovely environment to work in. It’s very modern in terms of it’s design (especially compared to other libraries in Oxford!). As well as having a huge range of books, the library also subscribes to many various electronic databases. These are very popular with the students because they provide up-to-date information on markets, companies and industries. As a history student I never got the chance to work with these resources at LSE so I’m very keen to find out more about them here!

It was great meeting all the other trainees at the first session last week – we all come from such different academic backgrounds so it should make for an interesting group! Looking forward to sessions to come, as well as all the tours of the different libraries that we have been encouraged to set up.

Library Trainee Day in the Life – Day 3

Welcome to the third installment of trainee life! Wednesdays are training days in Oxford, so most afternoons during term time we get a talk, practical session or visit relating to different areas of librarianship. This week we had a really interesting talk about Archives and Manuscripts, detailing the sorts of work involved and examples of the Bodleian collection, including political papers which made the Politics student in me very excited.  However as this is not a typical day for me I have included a random afternoon from last week to give a better reflection of what I do most days.

Read more Library Trainee Day in the Life – Day 3

Rosie Higman, Sainsbury Library


Hi everyone! I’m Rosie and I’m the new trainee at the Sainsbury Library in the Said Business School. I’m a bit late posting on here but hopefully I can make up for lost time. I have to admit writing blog posts doesn’t come that easy to me, but here goes…  So far it has been an exciting challenge coping with Freshers’ week and the influx of new students as well as learning the ropes around the library.

Before coming to Oxford I was working in administration for Virgin Media Business for a couple of years after finishing a degree in Politics from the University of Sheffield. This was long enough for me to realise that office life wasn’t for me, and one of the things I’ve enjoyed about being a trainee is the opportunity to try out different things, and to get out from behind a desk. I have always loved reading and books, and I have a house full of them, so to be able to work in a library feels like being paid to do your hobby. So far the library has proved to be a far more interesting environment, and I have particular enjoyed supporting students to access information, and to increase their appreciation for the library! I have been keeping busy with plenty of shelving, book processing and receiving the journals as well as spending lots of time on the helpdesk getting to know our new students. I have also been producing new signs and displays to help students find their way around and advertise the library’s services and careers collection. As this is my first library job I am still on a steep learning curve but the small staff team here have been very friendly and I am looking forward to trying lots of different aspects of librarianship as well as getting to know all the other trainees.

I am particularly interested in information literacy, and really enjoyed watching the new student inductions, and I will talk more about this as the year goes on. At the Business library we also have lots of students who are doing a course as part of their continual professional development, and who have experience of the workplace. This changes the dynamic of the library, and I think this will also be an interested topic to write about throughout the year.

Rosie Lake, Sainsbury Library, Saїd Business School

Hey everyone!

I’m Rosie and I’m the trainee at the Sainsbury Library at the Saїd Business School.

I grew up in Coventry, and studied Music at Nottingham University, graduating in 2010. Whilst I was studying in Nottingham, I worked as a student librarian at the Music Library, which I really enjoyed. (The most memorable moment was when a barber shop quartet with nowhere to rehearse, chose the corner of the library in which to practice their set. Alas, I had to ask them to keep it down).

Following my graduation, I embarked on a PGCE, which only lasted 3 weeks before I dropped out. It was quite clear to me that I had made a mistake: choosing what I thought to be a safe career option, when it wasn’t really what I wanted to do. I started talking to graduate trainee librarians, people in special collections, anyone who worked in a library whose ear I could bend. When I was sure this was the career for me, I started applying to traineeships.

During this time, I was living in London, and began volunteering with the Special Collections Relocation project at UCL, where I met some brilliant people, but also confirmed my suspicions that I wasn’t really interested in old/rare books.

I then began working in a West-End theatre, where I had many strange experiences (to be told at another time. Maybe.) and gained invaluable customer service experience. I was thrilled when I was offered a place as a Bodleian Libraries trainee, and I’m particularly pleased it was at a busy library where I will get the opportunity to interact with many different sorts of people.

The Sainsbury Library has already proved to be a busy and diverse environment, where the small team have been welcoming and friendly. I’m looking forward to gaining experience in many different areas of Librarianship, and throwing myself into every opportunity which comes my way, as well as taking part in courses towards professional development with the other trainees.