Hilary Murray, Corpus Christi College Library

Hi, I’m Hilary and I’m the Graduate Trainee at Corpus Christi College.  As a relative late-comer to the Trainee scheme, I started at Corpus in early November right in the toothy centre of Michaelmas term.   I am taking the turning of the New Year to introduce my role at Corpus, as 2011 should be quite an exciting year for the college.

I graduated from the University of Aberdeen with a degree in English Literature in 2007 and have since had a series of jobs in administration, in Yorkshire where I grew up, and in Oxford where I moved in 2009.  Before coming to Corpus I had no full-time library experience but I enjoyed a stint of volunteering over the last summer vacation at the Bodleian Education Library in tandem with my previous full time job.  So, it was a real adventure starting at Corpus Library in the middle of term, but definitely an enjoyable and challenging one!

My daily routine centres around shelving, book processing and spending afternoons (in term-time) manning the issue desk as well as picking up any other miscellaneous tasks that come my way.  I really enjoy being part of the small team here (there are only three of us) as the Trainee is an integral member whose work impacts that of the Librarian and Assistant Librarian, and vice-versa.   Although chilly in winter, the library is a beautiful place to work and you really do get to know the readers.   During my time here in Oxford I intend to poke around as many of the other libraries as I can while I have a hallowed Bod card!

As I mentioned above, 2011 should be an exciting year for the college as it prepares to give a series of special lectures through Hilary Term on the King James Bible, which celebrates 400 years this year and some translation of which took place at Corpus.  The college will also work with the Bodleian on an upcoming exhibition and I am looking forward to hopefully being able to assist with preparations.  After this year at Corpus I hope to earn my librarian stripes at library school – I’ll soon be making my applications and knuckling down to some serious form-filling.

Sarah Smith, Sackler Library

Hello, I’m Sarah and I’m the trainee at the Sackler Library.

I have just graduated from Trinity College Dublin with a degree in French and Classical Civilisation. Before starting work as a graduate trainee I had no previous library experience (apart from spending hours studying in them of course!) so it has been really interesting learning  about what goes on behind the scenes.

The Sackler specialises in Archaeology, Art History and Classics. My time (when not being distracted by the many interesting Classics books!) has been divided between the main issue desk, the history of art help desk, processing new books and an array of other tasks as they crop up. This gives me the opportunity to experience many different aspects of the job and will hopefully give me an idea of what area I might like to specialise in.

The training sessions every Wednesday have been very helpful. They also provide a welcome opportunity to meet with the other trainees and find out about their different roles in the other libraries.

I look forward to learning many more new things this year and to finally knowing my way around the confusing circular layout of the Sackler Library!

[NB the Sackler Library has now been renamed to the Art, Archaeology and Ancient World Library]

Kirsty Braithwaite, Bodleian Law Library

Hi! I’m Kirsty, and along with Anna, I’m one of the trainees at the Bodleian Law Library. I work in information resources, which means that I help process books as they arrive in the library, and spend approximately 99.9% of my time covered with bits of tattle tape.  As someone with no background in law, the past six weeks have been a steep learning curve, but on the plus side I understand a lot of the questions that new library users often have, like “what do you mean by secondary collection?” and “where can I find [insert crazy abbreviation] on the shelf?” It’s been awesome to have the chance to learn about a new field, and to contribute to the work here.

I graduated in 2009 from Heriot- Watt with a degree in French and Spanish. As part of my degree, I studied as an exchange student in Mexico and Belgium. After graduating I spent a year working as an English language assistant in a small town in Québec, where I worked in adult education, as well as in a primary school. I have an as yet unrealised ambition to drive a bookmobile, and were I not working in a library my dream job would be to be a QI elf.

I’m having a hard time grasping the concept of blogging which doesn’t involve posting pictures of cats and over-analytical screeds about Firefly, so to kick-start the bloggy year here are a few of my favourite library-related things to read on the internet:

  • Meredith Farkas writes about libraries and technology, particularly the way librarians can use social media to engage users.
  • Jessamyn West works in public libraries in rural Vermont. She writes about the digital divide and is all-round awesome.
  • In the Library with the Lead Pipe is co-written by about half a dozen librarians. I found the post What Not to Do When Applying for Library Jobs particularly helpful.
  • Brian Herzog works as a reference librarian in a public library in Massachusetts. I particularly like his “reference question of the week” posts which show the variety of queries faced by a public librarian and the skill it takes to handle them.
  • Academic librarian is a blog reflecting on the role of — you guessed it! — libraries in academia. It’s interesting reading, although the author works in the US and so naturally writes about the American library and academic system.
  • Not a blog, but possibly of interest for current or potential trainees, is the LIS New Professionals Network, a forum for people in the UK who are just entering the library profession. If you’re on it too, say hi.

What am I missing? What are your favourite blogs in library land?

Sarah Stewart – ISBES (Radcliffe Science Library, Sherardian and Alexander Libraries)

Hello! My name is Sarah and I am the Bio- & Environmental Sciences graduate trainee. I work at ISBES (Information Services in Bio- & Environmental Sciences), and can be found at three libraries: The Radcliffe Science Library, the Sherardian Library of Plant Taxonomy (formerly the Plant Sciences Library) and the Alexander Library of Ornithology (formerly the Zoology Library).

I am relatively new to librarianship; my only previous experience having been spent briefly as a shelving assistant at St. Michael’s College Library at the University of Toronto, and as a member of the University of Toronto Hart House Library Committee, where I assisted in curating a collection of local poets and writers and organising literary events.

I graduated with a degree in Biology and History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Toronto, and completed a Masters of Science degree in Plant Biology, specialising in algal systematics at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, USA. I have also worked and volunteered at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, and at the Cryptogamic Herbarium at the Natural History Museum in London. These research experiences made me realise the importance of information management, and propelled me to seek librarianship as a career (that, in addition to the fact that I am also a compulsive bibliophile!).

I have started my traineeship at a time of great change for the science collections at Oxford (more on that in a later post) but look forward to participating and learning as much as I can.  Following my traineeship, I hope to complete a Masters in Library and Information Science and would like to become a subject librarian specialising in the biological sciences.

So far, I have been engaged in reader services (setting up PCAS accounts, helping readers find particular items in the libraries using SOLO and OLIS) and circulation, although I have also been helping with the moving and re-organisation of the Zoology Library and Plant Sciences Library. I’m looking forward to learning more about cataloguing, and hope to soon put my skills to the test!

Many thanks to the ISBES team for making me feel so welcome!

Sean Rippington, Archives and Library Graduate Trainee

Hi I’m Sean. I’m the graduate library and archives trainee for Magdalen College. I graduated from UCL in September 2009, and have spent the last year volunteering in several archives; these included  Senate House Library in London, UCL Special Collections, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the Royal College of Surgeons and the National Maritime Museum. And no I did not get paid for any of them.

In order to learn more about records side of ‘Archives and Records Management’, I volunteered at the IRMT, who were kind enough to offer me a part time job – the greatest compliment I can give them is that they made records management seem interesting. I also ended up with a part time job at Senate House Library – though not as an archivist, but on the circulation desk. Although I intend to go down the archives route, I did enjoy working the library, and still do as part of my current job.

At the moment I am spending two days per week in the college library, dealing with queries, circulation, managing the small but well used Law Library and invigilating users of the Old Library (amongst any other smaller tasks that need doing). I spend the other three days in the archives, where I mostly work in accessioning, cataloguing and processing requests from researchers. So far this has turned up previously classified allied propaganda from WWII, a post card to the President from Seamus Heaney (using a stamp with his own face on) and naked pictures of AJP Taylor – so perhaps not as boring as it sounds. I will also be spending some time in a conservation studio that several colleges use for preserving their rare books and archival material, where I am tasked with cleaning the College’s medieval deeds.

If anybody reading this is considering applying for a traineeship next year I would very much recommend it – the group training sessions and the opportunity to meet other people in the same situation as you is something you don’t really get from volunteer positions or part-time jobs, or even from similar traineeships at other institutions.

I am aware from personal experience that there is not always a great deal of support for aspiring archivists, so if anyone would like some help about volunteering or applying for traineeships, please feel free to email me and I will do my best to help.

Emma Hancox, futureArch project, Bodleian Library

Hi, I’m Emma and I’m the graduate trainee on the futureArch project. I studied History of Art at the University of Cambridge and graduated in 2007. Before starting at the Bodleian I worked at Saint Nicolas Place, a collection of Tudor buildings in Birmingham, where I sometimes got to dress up in period costume when helping out with community events.

The futureArch project is all about the management of born-digital materials in the Bodleian’s archival collections. This is vital for the future when you think about how many materials typically found in collections are now digitally produced. Just one example is email which has taken over from letter writing as the primary method of correspondence. As well as working on the digital side of things, I am also involved in more traditional archive work such as reading room duty and cataloguing paper collections.

I am really looking forward to contributing to the project and learning more about the Bodleian’s collections as well as finding out about the practicalities of digital preservation. After this year I hope to move on to do an MA in Archives and Records Management.

Anna Smith- Bodleian Law Library

Hi, my name is Anna and I am really enjoying being one of the two trainees in the Bodleian Law Library. After doing a degree in modern languages, I trained as a teacher of English as a foreign language in France and worked there for three years, mainly in secondary schools. Being new to library work and having no experience in law, it has been really interesting for me to see how things work from the inside and to find out how differently law libraries are organised to any that I have used before. I am looking forward to learning more over the rest of the year and am very pleased to have the opportunity to do so in Oxford, especially since there are so many different libraries that you can have a peek at.

Nicky Hilton – University Archives

Hi I’m Nicky and I work at the University Archives. Although not strictly a library trainee, there is a fair amount of cross-over in the two roles so I get to sneak on to some of the training sessions! I graduated in 2008 from the University of Manchester and before accepting this post I had a variety of jobs in teaching, retail and banking. I’ve volunteered in a number of archives over the last year but this is my first full time position in archiving.

My daily role varies. I answer email, letter and phone enquiries from professional researchers and members of the public, manage material from the archives that is taken to Duke Humfrey’s Library for readers to consult, as well as sorting new acquisitions and cataloguing.

In the future I plan to complete my postgraduate qualification in archives and records management and hopefully work in a museum/art gallery archive.

Lauren Poole – Bodleian Social Science Library

Hello, I am Lauren, the second trainee at the SSL. I graduated this summer from Bristol University where I studied Archaeology and Anthropology so this is my first full-time job. I am really enjoying it so far and I am even beginning to get used to the early starts! Everyone has been really friendly and encouraging and I am very grateful to be working with Ruth as we are often able to tackle new problems together.

I have had no previous experience of working in a library so everything is very exciting and new at the moment! As Ruth said, our daily tasks are very varied including issue desk and shelving duties, as well as being responsible for the main email account, looking for missing books and claimed returns, sending out invoices, repairing damaged books and many other tasks which crop up on a daily basis. It certainly seems there will be no time to get bored this year!

I have really enjoyed the training sessions we have had so far and I think it will be great to be part of a training scheme where there are so many trainees with which to share the experience. I am looking forward to learning as much as I can about the library profession this year and hopefully this will help me to decide what I would like to do in the future.

Rose Williams – English Faculty Library

Hi, I’m Rose, this year’s trainee for the English Faculty Library. I graduated this year from UCL with a degree in History, and this is my first full-time job. So far I’ve done a variety of tasks here at the EFL, including manning the issue desk, shelving, processing books, checking in periodicals. I have also created two displays for the EFL to show off some of our rare books, which gave me a chance to use my creative flair! A couple of weeks ago I was given the opportunity to visit the UK headquarters of Swets, Oxford University’s journals provider, and now have a better understanding of how journal subscriptions are managed by the Bodleain Libraries.

I hope to learn as much as I can this year and take advantage of all the benefits of working for Oxford University.