Julia Dallaway – Wolfson College Library

Hello! I’m Julia and I’m this year’s Graduate Library Trainee at Wolfson College Library.

Looking out of Wolfson College onto the Harbour Lawn

I started this trainee programme in September thinking I was already very familiar with Oxford as both a city and a university, having just graduated from here this summer with a BA in English Language and Literature. Yet I soon discovered a stark contrast between the medieval cottages and hallowed traditions of Worcester College, where I previously studied, and the 1960’s architecture and ‘egalitarian ethos’ of Wolfson College, where I now work. The collegiate system of Oxford University allows each college to develop a unique atmosphere, so I had to adjust to Wolfson’s quirks as I settled in. Meanwhile, the Bodleian-run training sessions I attended in Osney introduced me to a beautiful corner of Oxford I’d never encountered as a student!

Before I started my role at Wolfson, Sally (my wonderful predecessor) told me that being a trainee in a college library—as opposed to one of the larger Bodleian or faculty libraries—has real advantages, which has proved true in my time here so far. I feel involved in almost every part of the running of the library. As part of a team of only two librarians, I am in charge of processing new book acquisitions (invoicing, classifying, cataloguing, and labelling them) and ensuring the Common Room is stocked with the latest periodicals, as well as daily library tasks including re-shelving books and answering reader queries.

Starting the trainee year was definitely a case of being thrown in at the deep end. In my first week, I was watching the Librarian give induction talks and tours to new students; by the end of my second week, I was giving these inductions myself! Giving talks to groups of sometimes 15 or 20 students pushed me outside of my comfort zone (especially when the projector didn’t work!), but I was pleasantly surprised to witness myself developing a public-speaking persona capable of this challenge. I loved getting to know the names and faces of new students and, as Wolfson is a graduate-only college, getting to hear about the weird academic niche that each student is researching.

New acquisitions from the Poetry Book Society, ready for National Poetry Day
One treasure from the Stallworthy collection: an entirely handwritten poetry book, entitled Manuscript

Being a librarian has already had its funny moments, such as when I bumped into a Wolfson student at a local Tesco’s, who recognised me as his college librarian and promptly asked me where the tinned tomatoes were! There have also been creative moments, including my #LibraryTakeover of Wolfson College’s Twitter account for National Poetry Day, which encouraged students to come to the Library and pick up one of the poetry books I’d scattered around for the occasion. And there have been surprising moments: I’m currently enjoying labelling new donations to the Library—including large collections from the philologist Anna Morpurgo Davies and the poet and former Wolfson Acting President Jon Stallworthy—because of the obscure treasures I come across.

My future plans are still uncertain, as I’d love to return to academia. But I know that, at the very least, this year is teaching me an abundance of practical skills that could help me to get a part-time library job to support myself during my future studies. I also think that learning how to assist readers in finding relevant resources will make me a better researcher.

The year so far has already immersed me in the theoretical and practical training necessary for good librarianship, and I’m excited to keep learning. If you’d told me two months ago that I’d be using Aleph to catalogue new acquisitions almost from scratch, I wouldn’t have known what you were talking about!

Madeleine Ahern – Taylor Institution Library

Hi everybody I’m Madeleine, one of two trainees based this year primarily at the Taylor Institution Library with shifts at the Sackler and Oriental Institute as well. I just graduated this spring with my BA Honours degree in History and Art History from Queen’s University in Canada, and after working in archives and museums previously I am now keen to pursue a career in academic librarianship.

A book from our special collections

 

Being a trainee at the Taylorian has been wonderful so far in part because of the extensive collections it encompasses. The Western and Eastern European languages, Linguistics, Film Studies, and Women’s Studies collections make for not only a fascinating range of library resources here but also some neat research going on at any minute. Most people gravitate towards our beautiful reading room adjacent to the main research collection stacks it seems!

 

The main reading room

 

I am primarily based at the issue desk so far, fielding reader inquiries, doing some book processing, shelving, and most recently preparing for inductions week. A favourite moment of my traineeship so far was when I got to work with Dalí, Matisse, and Picasso prints from the Strachan Artist Book collection all in one afternoon. I am really looking forward to all that is to come this year, in part because of an exciting new Navigation and Wayfinding Project that I am undertaking with my fellow trainee Chloe and a team of librarians across the Taylorian and Sackler to improve reader experience.

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.

Welcome to the 2019-20 Trainees!

Welcome to the 2019-20 trainees!

We welcomed our new 2019-20 trainees to Oxford last week and we have 20 trainees this year. Most of our trainees are based in the Bodleian Libraries, 5 in our colleges and we have 1 Digital Archives trainees. Pembroke College and the Bodleian’s Rare Books department have recruited a trainee this year and they are looking forward to being part of the scheme. The Law Library and Taylorian have both recruited an extra trainee this time as well. They attended the Trainee Welcome session last Wednesday and have a packed training programme this term to get them up to speed with the skills and knowledge they need for the start of Michaelmas Term. They are looking forward to their tour of the Bodleian and drinks in the Divinity School this week where Amy Warner-May, Associate Director of Scholarly Resources, will welcome them to the libraries.

Our trainees will be introducing themselves on the trainee blog over the next week or two, so do follow their progress throughout the year. We wish them a happy and successful year with us in Oxford!