Rebecca Wray, Social Science Library

Hello my name is Rebecca and I’m one of the new trainees at the Social Science Library (SSL). This is only my third week on the job as I joined the scheme a bit later than everyone else because sadly, another trainee had to leave the scheme. I’m from Bath originally and I graduated from Oxford Brookes University in Psychology in June. Before starting at the SSL I had been working in the Oxford Brookes libraries as a Communication Intern.

Bodleian Social Science Library

The Bodleian Social Science Library

You could say that choosing librarianship has a genetic factor in my case. My Mum is a Librarian and her parents met at library school in Birmingham.  But I didn’t seriously consider the career until the realisation at university that I had become the go-to person in my circle of friends for finding obscure journal articles and referencing questions. Through various jobs at university I’d always liked helping people so working in libraries seemed like a good choice (much to the delight/horror of my Mum!).

My first two weeks in the SSL have been quite intense, with lots of training to catch up on.  The SSL is a very busy library that offers a lot of services to readers so most of the training so far has been getting me set up to work on the issue desk. Thankfully as its the vacation period at the moment my first few stints have been fairly gentle!

Other than working on the Issue Desk myself and the other lovely SSL trainee Ceri deal with other Reader Services (front of house) type tasks like answering emails, dealing with books that have been returned to the wrong library, looking after the library’s social media accounts and hunting down missing books. After Christmas I’ll be trained on the Technical Services side of things, like repairing and processing books.

Last week we also had the added challenge of putting Christmas decorations up in and around the library.  The garland mysteriously got quite a lot of attention on Twitter!

The (slightly wonky) SSL Christmas garland

So far it’s been a little bit overwhelming as there are lots of new things to learn but I’m really enjoying it. I am looking forward to things getting more familiar though, so I don’t have to bombard Ceri with so many questions!

Sarah Platt, Taylor Institution Library

Hello! I’m Sarah and I am one of the trainees at the Taylor Institution Library, alongside Yannis, who has already posted a wonderful introduction to the Taylor.

I suppose I’ll start with a little bit about myself… I  arrived in Oxford almost exactly four years ago to begin the MSt in Greek and Roman History, and then started the DPhil in 2011 – young, full of hope, and in blissful denial…. (“Well the thesis is only, like, eight times what I’ve just written for the Masters…. and I’ve got 3 to 4 years to finish it! No problem!!”) Anyway, 3 years later I have learned several things: 1) a year goes by very quickly, 2) overly optimistic attitudes to fragmentary and obscure ancient Greek inscriptions get you nowhere – they do not, after all, hold all the unknown secrets of Athenian civilisation, and 3) if you listen to ‘Last Christmas…’ just that little bit too loud on your headphones in the Sackler – you will get funny looks. I could also talk about how the experience has been rewarding and made me grow as a person, but I’m sure no-one wants to read all that so I’ll leave it there. All that really matters is that since story time at my local library at the age of 4,  it has been very difficult for anyone to extract me from a library. Not content with my weekdays studying in the Bodleian Libraries, I also decided to apply for weekend work at the Bodleian and SSL, where I found both interesting tasks and lovely people in abundance. Now here I am at the Taylor, embarking on my trainee year! When I’m not working or writing my thesis, I knit, draw, write other things, and meticulously organise my bookshelves. (I’m kidding about that last one… but only slightly.)

One of the Taylor's many staircases
One of the Taylor’s many staircases (Taylor Library website)

I was particularly happy when I found out I would be located at the Taylor. I had never set foot in the building until my interview, when I first discovered the library’s beautiful architecture, fascinating collections, and a tendency for books to be located in the oddest little nooks and crannies. The Taylor is the Bodleian library for Medieval and Modern Languages, as well as Film Studies and Women’s Studies. As Yannis has already said, the Taylor has an incredibly beautiful reading room, which I am very lucky to spend rather a lot of time in as I work at the Enquiry Desk in the Research Collection. The workload has been really varied and interesting so far… Alongside the day-to-day tasks of collecting the delivery, shelving, and dealing with reader queries, I have tagged and labelled new books, dealt with material for inter-library loans, and searched through volumes from Sir Robert Taylor’s own architecture collection for a particular drawing of an English stately home (it wasn’t there – but the Rare Books Room was a lovely place to spend half an hour). Learning to recognise the variety of classifications here at the Taylor is like learning to speak another language (appropriately), and the stairs, well … the Taylor reminds me a little of M.C. Escher’s ‘Relativity’, with stairs going in all imaginable directions. The day I make it up from my locker in the basement to the break room in the attic without nearly collapsing on my knees as I stumble through the door – I will know what it feels like to conquer Everest.

All in all, I have really enjoyed my first few weeks at the Taylor, and I am very excited for all the opportunities the next year will bring!

Hannah Hickman, History Faculty Library

I’m Hannah, the new trainee at the History Faculty Library. The HFL is currently based at the Radcliffe Camera, which is a pretty incredible building to rock up to every morning — I’ve been told it doesn’t take long before you become blasé about Oxford’s architectural grandeur, but I’m definitely still in the honeymoon phase.

The ceiling of the Upper Camera — so pretty!

The RadCam’s a really interesting site, because the loanable HFL books are sandwiched in-between the reference-only Bodleian books, and with the Gladstone Link connecting the Camera to the Old Library, the books (and their accompanying readers) can wander pretty freely between the reading rooms. There’s at least four or five different classification systems in use, so reshelving has been quite an adventure. Apparently this is one of the busiest library sites — even out of term time, there’s a lot of coming and going. I expect that the first week of Michaelmas is going to be a wild ride!

I’m originally from Oxfordshire, so it’s lovely to be back in the area. I spent the last five years in Warwickshire, doing my BA in English at Warwick and then following it up with a part-time MA in Shakespeare and Renaissance history at the Shakespeare Institute. I started working in libraries during my MA, and was lucky enough to get experience working in a small reference-only postgrad library with an archive and a large lending library, as well as a few weeks in a special collections archives. I can’t believe it took me so long to realise how much I enjoy being on the other side of the counter!

So far, the last week and a half — nearly two weeks now — has been really fun. I’ve learned a lot, and so far I’m managing to remember everyone’s names…

Emma Lewsley, Nuffield College Library


My name’s Emma, and I’m the new trainee at Nuffield College Library. As we near the end of my second week here I think I’m just about learning my way around the library, and its ten floor tower. Nuffield College is a graduate college, so it feels at the minute as though the library users know a lot more about it than me! I’m relieved to have a few weeks to get to grips with everything before the new students arrive. It’s been an intense couple of weeks, with a lot of learning, but everyone is being lovely and helpful.

Nuffield tower blog photo 1
Nuffield College Library’s ten floor tower – hopefully I’ll soon get used to climbing all those stairs!

The library staff all take turns to complete the different library duties, from manning the circulation desk to shelving, and I completed my first stint on my own at the circulation desk this week (which I’m pleased to say I survived). As the trainee, I’ll be responsible for inter-library loans, and a lot of my time will be spent dealing with acquisitions, which involves the exciting job of using the label maker!

I graduated from the University of St Andrews this June with a degree in Medieval History. Whilst at university I was able to spend a month as an intern in the library, creating a database of university alumni. I really enjoyed being in that environment, and seeing how a library functions behind the scenes. My internship led me to apply for graduate trainee positions. I’m looking forward to learning more about librarianship , and am hoping that this year will help me decide what I want to do next.


Duncan Jones, Bodleian Library

I am writing this at the start of my second week here at the Bodleian.  My trainee post comes under the umbrella of the Reader Services department and at the moment has seen me based in the Staffed Reserve area of the Upper Reading Room.  We receive several deliveries of stack books from the BSF (Book Storage Facility) in Swindon each day, which are processed and then taken to nominated collection points around the site.  A Self-Collect service was introduced earlier in the year but many readers still order to the Staffed Reserve and any books older than 1900 have to be picked up from here as well.  It’s all change at the moment with the Weston Library (previously called the New Bodleian) opening to readers later this month and the rehousing of the library’s special collections in that space.

View to the URR from the quad.
View to the URR from the quad.  Whenever I look out, someone is pointing a camera at me or themselves!

I found my way onto Oxford’s Trainee scheme after graduating with an English degree in 2010 and moving through various customer facing roles including a year in a public library.  Working with the public was a good preparation for dealing with the broad range of enquiries you face somewhere like the Bodleian.  Later in the year, I will have a chance to be part of the Main Enquiry Desk team and deal with correspondence from around the world but there’s a lot to learn before I get there…

Welcome to the New Graduate Trainees 2014-15!

053Our new trainees have joined us this week and we have 18 in total this year.  A Welcome session was held for them on the 3rd September and it was also a good opportunity for them to meet each other.  It was great to meet them all and to introduce them to Oxford and its libraries.  We also looked at the trainee scheme overall and expectations for the year.  This photo was taken during the coffee break . The trainees will be introducing themselves on the blog and posting regularly about their experiences and progress over the coming year.  I hope they all have a great year with us!