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!

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.

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.

Ruth Jenkins – Bodleian Social Science Library

Hi I’m Ruth, and I’m one of two trainees at the Bodleian Social Science Library. It’s been really enjoyable so far, though I’m a bit nervous about the start of term! We’re one of the busiest lending libraries, so 0th and 1st week should be quite an experience!

I’ve worked in a couple of libraries before, and really enjoyed it. I worked for two years as a Saturday assistant in a small public library, which was great all round experience of a lending library, as I got to work a lot on the issue desk and (mostly) solve many of the customers’ queries! I also worked part-time for a year in the Devon School Library Service through university. This was very different, as it wasn’t open to the public. Instead we had subscriptions from Devon schools, and each term we would send them boxes of books on a certain topic- Vikings, or Rivers, or just lovely picture books.

In the SSL I get to do a bit of everything, as I work on the front desk but also do a lot ‘behind the scenes’. It’s also nice as I recognise a lot of the books from my Sociology degree. Hopefully that will come in handy when helping lost Sociology freshers find items on their reading list! After this year I’m hoping to apply to library school, and it seems like this year will really help in deciding what sort of area of librarianship I’d like to go into.

Helen Fairfield, Codrington Library (All Souls College)

Hello, I’m Helen and I’m the graduate trainee at All Souls College.  Yes, I’m the one looking the wrong way in the group photo – there’s always one, and it’s usually me!  Since graduating from Bristol University in 2005 with a degree in English, I have worked for a year as a medical secretary, completed a PGCE at Oxford University and taught in a secondary comprehensive school for three years, so librarianship is a complete change of direction for me.  So far I’m really enjoying it and feel extremely lucky to have got a place on the graduate trainee scheme.

All Souls is a fascinating place to work;  it’s unique and it can be difficult to explain how it runs as it is very far from your “typical” library.  The college doesn’t have any students, so the library primarily caters for the Fellows of All Souls, although any student of Oxford University can apply to read here – this can come as a surpise to some people who think of All Souls as being terribly exclusive.  Actually the library actively encourages undergraduate readers and it is certainly an awe-inspiring place to study.  The library itself specialises in History and Law, although its collection covers a much broader range than this.  It is also the home to some real treasures, including 457 Wren drawings, which we get a lot of enquiries about.

We open today so I’m looking forward to seeing what term-time brings and to the rest of my year at All Souls.

Hi – I’m the Sainsbury Library Trainee at the Said Business School.  Having worked in my college library as a student in Durham, I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to take my experience to the next level in Oxford, and this year is a really good year to be around!  There are local reclassification and refurbishment projects, and a complete overhaul of the Bodleian Libraries to boot, so there is plenty to pick up on how and why things are done as they change.  The SBS team have made me feel very welcome, and it very much seems that I’ll have all the opportunities I could have wanted to get involved in different aspects of librarianship.

Currently in the process of applying to library school, I have a rather well-defined career goal to specialise towards: Guildford Cathedral Librarian!  Who knows where I’ll actually end up, but it would be very nice to get in amongst some weighty theological literature and make it work in a thriving Anglican community.  Whilst it still seems possible, dreams of an idyllic village life in Church Crookham with my future wife are abounding.

Just as a taster of exciting things to come, I have recently been offered a Saturday job in the Upper Camera… a post for the future methinks.