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.

Becci Hutchins, Bodleian Library


My name is Becci and I am this year’s Bodleian trainee. I graduated in 2008 with a degree in English at the University of Leicester. Since then I have worked various jobs, including being a hospital administrator, van driver, library assistant and sales assistant. Having enjoyed my previous library jobs and with a keen interest in working with books, I felt that librarianship was an appropriate career choice for me, so I am thoroughly enjoying being able to gain more experience in such a prestigious library.

In previous years the Bodleian has taken on three trainees who would rotate around reader services and more ‘behind the scenes’ aspects of the library, however, this year I am the only trainee and I will be based solely in Reader Services. I will spend my time between all the Bodleian reading rooms, which means that I can gain a broad view of the library as a whole and meet lots of very interesting people! I am looking forward to starting work in the Radcliffe Camera in 0th week, which I am expecting to be rather busy as the Camera is the Bodleian’s undergraduate reading room.

After my trainee year is finished I hope to be able to undertake a part time MA in Library and Information Studies while working in a library in order to supplement my learning.

Divinity School Drinks

An article for Outline about Divinity School drinks reception for you all to read!

The graduate trainees for the coming year met with other members of staff on 9 September in the Divinity School for a very enjoyable drinks reception. It gave many of the trainees a chance to introduce (and show off!) their respective library staff and vice versa. There was a lot of discussion of our first weeks, and for those still to start, as much advice as possible was being taken in. Mike Heaney, Executive Secretary of the Bodleian Libraries, welcomed us to our posts and spoke to those assembled about what an exciting time it is to be part of librarianship as a whole, but in particular to witness and take part in the projects happening in Oxford in the coming months.  As was pointed out in his speech the trainees are the fresh-faced ones who ask lots of questions! We look forward to meeting many of you during our year here and drawing on your experience, which we heard lots about on Thursday.

Cate, Oxford Union Society

I’m Cate and I’m now the graduate trainee in the Oxford Union Society Library. I graduated this summer from Bath after four years of French, German and European Studies and am excited about starting my career here in Oxford. So far I’m finding there is quite a steep learning curve but I am enjoying all the scanning, stamping and shelving – which, apart from the shelving, are all the kind of jobs I used to find exciting when I was about six, and still do! I’m really looking forward to the varied nature of the year to come and, like Clare, to term time when the library will hopefully be full of people. I may not being saying the same then though!

Do drop me a line if you’d like to know more about the Union or its library!

Clare Bristow, History Faculty Library

Hello!  I’m the graduate trainee in the History Faculty Library.  I have just finished a degree in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic at Cambridge University, so I get particularly excited when I get to shelve books on medieval history.  I have done a bit of work experience in public libraries, but this is the first time I have worked in an academic library (as in being employed, not as in studying!) so I’m looking forward to the start of term and meeting lots of readers.