Lorena Fierro, Taylor Institution Library

A photograph of the exterior of the Taylor Institute Library
The Taylor Institution Library

Hi, I’m Lorena, this year’s Taylor Institution Library trainee. The Taylor Institution is part of the Bodleian Libraries, and caters to students and researchers of modern European languages, linguistics, and film studies—plus hosts significant collections on gender, and bibliography, palaeography and book production.

Built in the 1860s and expanded in the 1930s, the Taylor Institution is an attractive neoclassical building in the centre of Oxford. It attracts not only Modern Languages scholars, but also people looking for a well-lit, comfortable place to work. Working at the Taylorian over the past few weeks has been a hugely interesting experience as I have got used to the building, its collections, and its readers.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of working at the Taylorian has been the variety of languages and literatures available within its walls. Our readers and our staff generally have some familiarity with one or more languages in addition to English, and it´s common to hear conversations in Russian, German, French, or Spanish. As a person interested in language and literature, it´s always interesting to see what readers are looking for or requesting.

Also rewarding has been the opportunity to both work on the day-to-day operations of

A photograph of the interior of the Voltaire Room
The Voltaire Room

the library, and get involved in some longer-term projects. Combining working at the desk and assisting readers with project work and more technical tasks makes for varied, entertaining days.


I have also had the opportunity to work in the Sackler Library (which focuses on Ancient History, Archaeology, Art, and Architecture), and the Nizami Ganjavi Library (which covers subjects related to Asia and the Middle East). I have also had the chance to visit other libraries—look out for a future post in the coming weeks on the visit some of us made to the St Edmund Hall library!—and collaborate with staff across the Bodleian Libraries.

As a trainee, I have received nothing but encouragement when it comes to getting involved, learning more, and making changes and improvements in the library. The past few weeks have given me the opportunity to see in practice different aspects of work in academic libraries, and have served to show me a range of possible career paths beyond the traineeship. I look forward to seeing what the rest of the year will bring.

Grace Exley, Jesus College Library

Hi, I’m Grace and I’m the trainee at Jesus College Library, which is solely for the use of Jesus college students and caters for a broad range of subjects. I’ve been here since the beginning of September, and I absolutely love it.

I’ve always got a buzz from connecting people with ideas and information and I adore polite, civilised conversation. Around my family responsibilities I’ve worked for many years as an artist and a teacher of art. I’ve found working in education to be very rewarding, but teaching involves too much talking for me, so I’m thrilled to have made an inroad into academic libraries.


The lower floor of this room is filled with bookshelves splitting the space into individual study carrels, and the upper gallery is lined with bookshelves.
Jesus College Library (© Jorge Royan, Creative Commons)


The Oxford University libraries network has a truly thriving and interesting community that I’m proud and excited to be a part of. There is so much going on here and so many avenues that your career can go down with libraries as a starting point – more than I had first imagined.

Over one hundred libraries make up this network and it is surprising how independent they can be from one another and how each one is run in a slightly different way – so no two traineeships will be the same! In my library there are only two members of staff – the librarian and myself – taking care of everything. This is fantastic for me, as not only do I get the benefit of one-on-one support, but I also get a very comprehensive overview of what it takes to run a library and there is plenty for me to do.

When I first started the library was very quiet and empty and I had a month to get to grips with how things work before the students arrived for Michaelmas term. Come freshers week I knew enough to help successfully run a couple of days of library inductions for the new students. This was a lot of fun and I felt really excited for them.

Six weeks in, I’ve learned a lot and I feel really supported. The librarian I work with day to day is super-lovely and so are the other trainees, whom I meet up with once or twice a week for a training session. We regularly meet up outside of work too.

My impression so far is that the training scheme is extremely well thought out, well delivered and full of opportunities. Can’t wait to see what the rest of the year brings!

Barbora Sojkova, All Souls Library

My name is Barbora and I am the trainee at the All Souls College Library. Although All Souls holds a certain aura of mystique, its Library is perhaps the most accessible college library in Oxford, providing its rich collections not only to the members of the college but also to Oxford students and external researchers. The library is strong in history and law in particular; furthermore, there is a wealth of manuscripts and early-printed materials.



I have been in Oxford for five years now, reading for MPhil in Classical Indian Religions at Wolfson before transferring to DPhil in Oriental Studies with specialisation in Vedic Sanskrit at Balliol College. Before coming to Oxford, I did an undergrad and MA in Religious Studies at the Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic, where I worked part-time as a Student Librarian in the library of the Department of Philosophy for four years. I loved every aspect of that job, so when I arrived in Oxford, I quickly found a part-time job as an invigilator in the Radcliffe Camera. It was there where I first heard about the Graduate Traineeship, and I was absolutely certain I would apply once I finish my DPhil.

Although I cannot say I am fully done with my DPhil yet – handing in my thesis only over a week ago and anxiously awaiting my viva – I am very lucky to be working in the grand eighteenth-century All Souls Library for about a month and half now. The main bulk of my job has been behind the library scenes so far, including tasks such as shelving, book processing, handling book requests, updating spreadsheets of all kinds, and creating more space in the bookstack. As we have just opened to readers after the long vacation, I will be incrementally taking on more tasks related to the reader services. So far, my favourite job has been processing the so-called “presentations”, i.e., books donated to the library by college members. This involves multiple steps from creating a custom bookplate commemorating the donation to assigning it a shelfmark.

Overall, I am very excited to see what the year at All Souls has in store for me!

Caitlín Kane, New College Library

Hi! I’m Caitlín, the Graduate Trainee at New College Library. The college itself was founded in 1379 by William of Wykeham, and still features a lot of the original medieval architecture, as well as a section of Oxford’s city wall. As a Medieval Studies graduate, one of my favourite things about working here at New College is getting to work so closely with the library’s collection of around 400 medieval manuscripts. Of all the Oxford colleges, more manuscripts remain from New’s medieval library than from that of any other Oxford or Cambridge college.

A square stone building and tower sit surrounded by trees and shrubs with a grey misty sky behind them.
New College Library and Bell Tower on a misty autumn morning

When I get free time, you can find me in the Bell Tower poring over manuscripts, trying to find the strangest marginalia to post on our social media. My favourite volume has to be the “New College Apocalypse”, an early fourteenth-century illuminated Anglo-Norman prose translation of the Apocalypse of St. John, which I had heard about through the grapevine in my undergraduate and postgraduate studies at UCL.

A manuscript illumination showing an angel trumpeting in the clouds whilst three figures with horse's bodies, wings and crowned human heads prance about below.
“New College Apocalypse” MS 65 f. 30r

I hadn’t seriously thought about librarianship until I began researching medieval universities and their libraries, and in doing so developed an interest in the day-to-day running of the contemporary university libraries I spent so much time in as a student. As a medievalist, New College Library seemed like the perfect place to apply for the traineeship. Though my research has mainly concerned late medieval Italian women, there are plenty of incredible volumes to keep me occupied here in a range of different languages: French, Spanish, Greek, German, English, Italian, Latin, Syriac, Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Welsh, Anglo-Norman, Dutch — the list goes on!

My day-to-day work includes processing new acquisitions to the library, setting up exhibitions, helping run our social media accounts, invigilating readers who come to see our special collections, and updating our new books display. It’s also been lovely to attend training sessions, which have given me the confidence to face Aleph — our cataloguing system. It’s been great to meet the other trainees in person and hear about what everyone else is getting up to in their libraries. With new freshers pouring in this month, I’ve been giving induction tours and praying our self-service borrowing machines don’t break. I’ve also been helping write labels for a couple of new exhibitions we’ll be putting on at the end of the month and in November, so there’s a lot to keep me busy for now!

It’s also worth noting that trainees at college libraries get free lunch, and the bar here at New isn’t half bad either — I’ve heard Hugh Grant likes to stop by for a pint or two every now and then…

A long corridor lined with books leads to glass doors. A desk sits directly ahead with a worn but colourful cushion on the wooden seat.
New College Library Upper Floor

Morgan Ashby-Crane, Social Science Library

Hi! I’m Morgan, the trainee at the Social Science Library!


A view of a square concrete building with large floor to ceiling glass windows. In front of the building is a picnic table shaded by a tree with bright orange leaves. To the left another tree with green leaves obscures part of the building and provides shelter for some bicycles.
The front entrance to the SSL


I’m a former bookseller and I’m a medievalist, interested in the transmission of the romance genre between Anglo-French sources and Old Norse-Icelandic. I’ve wanted to work in libraries for several years, and had applied to college traineeships, but not the Bodleian one, which has such an early application window!

In the last year I put more time into job applications for library work, and it was when I got a part time position at the SSL last October that I felt I had actually got somewhere. I began working at the Taylor Institution Library in January 2022, again with part time hours, and these bits of experience meant I was able to put forward a much stronger traineeship application. I don’t think that previous work in the library sector is by any means necessary for the traineeship, but it does undoubtedly demonstrate an interest in the field. I was able to talk much more clearly about what was happening within the library environment and where I wanted to go in the sector. Nonetheless, I’ve got lots to learn and benefit from in my trainee year, and something I’m really looking forward to is speaking to colleagues involved in the areas that interest me. I can find out if they’re right for me, and how to work towards them.

I’ve had a great first month (and a bit) at the SSL so far. The role of the trainee here is a blend of reader and technical services. We take a turn staffing the desk like everyone else and are the main staff responsible for managing the enquiries inbox, sorting room bookings et cetera. We also spend a considerable amount of time off desk, processing books, looking for missing ones, and assisting technical staff when their workload increases at key points in the university year.

The last three weeks have been a busy period of anticipating and meeting demand for readers later in the year, in terms of reviewing reading lists, scheduling and conducting training sessions, and most of all, leading tours of the library. I am scheduled for 15 across 0th week and am about halfway through at the time of writing – I think I’ve spoken more this week than I have since I stopped working in retail!

I’ve also really enjoyed producing a display for Black History Month, which I did with contributions from subject librarians. Sourcing texts from across the social sciences’ subjects was opportunity to consider how racism can be studied and interrogated differently in diverse disciplines. I’m particularly keen to read The Color of Law (Richard Rothstein), as well as Against Decolonisation (Olúfemi Táíwò), a legal deposit item that came through amongst lots of interesting recent publishing in the last month or so.


Three white shelves are split in half. On the left side are books on Black History, small posters with pink titles provide more information. On the right side some of the SSLs new books are displayed together.
The Black History Month and New Book Displays at the SSL


With all that said, I’m looking forward to getting past 0th week, and getting into the regular rhythm of term and resuming our Wednesday training sessions!

Miranda Scarlata, Weston Library

Hi, my name is Miranda and I am one of two digital archivist trainees at the Weston Library. The Weston holds the Bodleian libraries’ special collections and serves as both a working library and research center.

Before starting this job, I was completing an MSc in Evidence-Based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation at the University of Oxford and working as bar and box office staff at the O2 Academy in Oxford. Before that, I was working as a neuroscience research assistant at the National Institutes of Health in the US. Two potential career paths that seemingly have nothing to do with archiving. I never imagined myself in a career in archives and did not even know the position of digital archivist existed until I was exploring potential jobs for when I was done with my masters. However, when I realized that what I really enjoyed from both neuroscience and policy evaluation was the technological, code trouble-shooting, side of the work rather than the actual topics themselves, I began investigating other opportunities where I could use those skills. I serendipitously came across the digital archivist trainee job description in the midst of my search. According to the post, I would get to use my hard-earned tech skills, learn about an eclectic set of topics, collaborate with colleagues, and I did not have to have any prior archiving experience. It seemed like an incredibly cool job.


Four monitors sit on a desk, two are black but two show windows open to XML files. Behind them is a window with a blind which looks out onto Hertford College and Holywell Street.
The lovely view from our office on broad street and an example of an XML file from a converted word document catalogue.


Now that I have been at this position for a little over a month, I can say that it definitely is incredibly cool. The majority of my time is spent maintaining the Bodleian Web Archive (found here: https://archive-it.org/home/bodleian) and converting decentralized word documents that catalogue the University’s department’s records, into a centralized accessible online resource. I get to work on everything from capturing Radiohead’s website for our archive to XML manipulation and metadata input. I am also gaining my postgraduate qualification in Digital Information and Media Management at Aberystwyth University as part of this traineeship. While it can be hard to balance a distance-learning masters and a full-time job, this program is providing me with work experience and the qualification I need to continue in this field after the traineeship ends, which is pretty incredible. Overall, I am excited to learn more about the collection and management of digital resources over the next two years.

Alice Zamboni, Weston Library

My name is Alice and I am a graduate trainee digital archivist based in the Modern Archives and Manuscripts department at the Weston Library. My traineeship runs over two years and, at the time of writing, I am already six months into my job. Prior to the traineeship, I completed a PhD in art history. Whilst working on my thesis, I spent a considerable amount of time in rare materials reading rooms studying early modern Dutch books and works on paper, so that working in Special Collections provides continuity with my research background but also new learning opportunities.

Indeed, the focus of my traineeship is on born-digital archives, which offers me a great chance to expand my expertise beyond the 17th century and gain technical skills that are especially valuable in the field of digital preservation. For example, I am learning all about web archiving in order to be able to manage and curate the ever-growing collection of websites hosted on the Bodleian Libraries Web Archive. I also contribute to a catalogue retroconversion project, for which I use extensible mark-up language (XML) to transform analogue catalogues from the Oxford University Archives into machine-readable documents. My favourite part of the job thus far is cataloguing: I enjoy the process of describing archival materials and learning about how to make these descriptions accessible and discoverable in the online catalogue.

For now, my job takes place entirely behind the scenes, in an office on the third floor of the Weston which I share with Miranda, the other trainee archivist. This is a picture of my favourite part of the building. It is the reference collection on the first floor, with the bookshelves behind a glass wall in a gallery from which one can admire the inner structure of the whole building.


A view of the open-shelf reference collection in the Weston Library
A view of the open-shelf reference collection in the Weston Library


What I most enjoy about the Weston Library as a workplace is the way in which it brings together spaces and opportunities for research, public engagement and the display of special collections. In the future, I would like to be able to combine cataloguing activity with some collection-based teaching and research, and I hope the archives traineeship is a first step in that direction.

Charlie Ough, Bodleian Old Library

A view of St Aldates street on a misty grey morning with Christchurch College's Tom Tower appearing through the mist and a cyclist on the street ahead.
A misty walk to work past Christ Church College.

Hello, my name is Charlie Ough (pronounced “Oh”) and I started just a little more than a month ago now as the new Graduate Trainee at the Old Bodleian Library, the building composed of the fifteenth-century Divinity School and Duke Humfrey’s reading room together with the seventeenth-century Quad connected to the Radcliffe Camera via the Gladstone Link. Though I was a Master’s student at St Antony’s College up until I started the traineeship (handing in my dissertation less than 24 hours before my first day!), I have only just gotten to know my way around this central complex of Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries with the particular help of Alice at the Rad Cam. Previously, I could count with ease on just one hand the number of times I had visited during my year’s study!

I also did not have any experience of working in libraries or information management before I started. However, the time I have spent studying and researching in libraries and archives during my undergraduate degree at SOAS, University of London and Master’s in Modern Middle Eastern Studies here at Oxford really got me interested in finding out what goes on on the other side behind the now-ubiquitous plastic screens! After finishing my BA in History shortly after the first coronavirus wave in the summer of 2020, I spent over a year back in Devon working at the café of the Donkey Sanctuary just outside my home town of Sidmouth and then at a pub in Oxford alongside my studies. This experience of customer service with some of the most difficult punters out there (drunks, dogs, and donkeys) means I’ve very quickly come to enjoy helping readers at the Bodleian despite my lack of formal knowledge of the building itself and profession more widely.

The front entrance to the Bodleian Old Library which has beautiful ornate masonry and a statue of the Earl of Pembroke in front of it.
The “proscholium” or main entrance to the Old Bod.

One of my favourite duties so far has to be working at the Enquiry Desk on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings with Alan and Morwenna. This desk is always staffed during the Old Bodleian’s opening hours and serves, from its convenient location by the main entrance to the Lower Reading Room, as the first point of contact for all email and telephone enquiries sent to the Bodleian Libraries. While helping readers reset passwords and find books, I have the opportunity to track down obscure texts, find and present information about medieval representations of rats and photographs of 1930s’ Chad Valley board games, and iron-out irregularities in our catalogue all the while chatting with my colleagues about our weekends, Cary Grant’s suits and the latest bizarre and apocalyptic junk mail we’ve received!

Aside from that, the only other main activity I have been tasked with that Alice hasn’t already mentioned is investigating some of the oddities in the classification of the collected primary documents and local history material in the oldest part of the Old Bod, the Duke Humfrey’s Reading Room. Though it can be frustrating to try to understand why volumes 4, 6 and 19 of the List & Index Society Series (I assure you as exciting as the name suggests!) were sent to our offsite storage facility in Swindon when all the other volumes are on the Open Shelves, requesting items up from the closed stack and realising you have solved at least a piece of the puzzle can be rather rewarding! As rewarding as reading the editor’s apologist defence of the tradition of feudalism in the 2003 edition of Burke’s Landed Gentry is entertaining, unsurprising, and deeply worrying all at once!

In the months ahead, I’m looking forward to our Trainee trip to the storage facility in Swindon and to giving more tours for new undergraduate students which I have thoroughly enjoyed and also discovered as a brilliant way of forcing myself to memorise and retain a lot of the diffuse information and advice I have received over the past month. If anyone reading this comes on one of my tours, or simply sees me around the library, please do come up to ask any questions you have which I’ll be more than happy to answer or pass on to the veritably-omniscient Alan! You might also see me in the evenings or weekends working the occasional shift at Oxford’s oldest pub, the Bear Inn off the High Street, though do not perhaps expect me to be quite as polite!

A view of the Bodleian Old Library tower with a blue sky behind it and sun reflecting off the windows. The right-hand walls throw shade across the base of the tower.
The tower at the Bodleian Library

Rose Zhang, Oxford Union Society Library

Hello! I am Rose, the 22-23 graduate trainee at the Oxford Union Library. Today (3 Oct) is my first day of work and I am also writing my very first blog!

The Oxford Union is a debating society created by and for the Oxford students, and the library used to be the society’s debating chamber. As a lover of 19th-century literature, I find myself extremely lucky to be working every day in this Victorian building with Gothic looking rose windows and walls painted by the Pre-Raphaelites.

A photo showing the interior of the Oxford Union Society Library
The Union Library (Photo Credit: Barker Evans)


My love for libraries began when I was a kid in China. There was a period when I was obsessed with R. L. Stine’s book series Goosebumps. I was too young then to have my own money and yet too old to not feel embarrassed spending five hours in a bookstore without purchasing anything. Luckily, there was a tiny library in the neighbourhood with an entire shelf of Goosebumps. After I finished them, I went on to read Agatha Christie, the Bronte sisters, Hugo, Camus… Since the literary curriculum at school focused primarily on Chinese literature, it was through libraries that I had my first glimpse into world literature, which then led me to study literature at university. After completing my bachelor’s degree in English and Psychology, I came to Oxford for my master’s degree in Comparative Literature. Meanwhile, I worked part-time at several academic libraries. I particularly enjoyed my time as a shelving assistant at the English Faculty Library, where I had the opportunity to work on a variety of tasks—thanks to my kind and supportive colleagues there, who taught me so much about the art of librarianship!


A photo of a mural depicting Arthur's Wedding to Guinivere, painted by William and Briton Riviere
Arthur’s Wedding to Guinevere: Murals painted by William & Briton Riviere (Photo Credit: Cyril Band)


The trainee programme so far has been really eye-opening. As a student, I used SOLO every day for my research. It’s amazing for me to see from the library’s perspective how much work has been put into a sophisticated online database like SOLO, and how it is intricately connected to Aleph. Today, I also had the fun experience of looking into our library archive. We had an inquiry about a particular debate that took place in 1974. My colleague Laura and I went into the stack room in the basement to find copies of the term cards and minutes from half a century ago. I always find it fascinating to read handwritings of people who are before my time, to see their styles of writing, and to imagine them as unique individuals. To me, previous members of the Union are no longer just faces in a black and white photo. I look forward to this new academic year, and also the many years to come of working in libraries!

Léa Watson, Bodleian Law Library

Hello! My name is Léa, and I am one of the two trainees at the Bodleian Law Library this year. The Bodleian Law Library is a reference-only library located in the St. Cross Building in Oxford. As well as working at the Law Library, I also spend one day a week at the Sainsbury Library at the Saïd Business School (one of the first buildings you will see when coming out of the train station).

Seating area on the First Floor in the Bodleian Law Library
Seating area on the First Floor in the Bodleian Law Library

Before moving to Oxford I very recently graduated from UCL where I completed a BSc in Psychology with Education – a subject I very much enjoyed! During my studies I worked as a gallery assistant, research and nursery assistant, and I volunteered at a small LGBT+ library in London. It was these experiences (working in educational environments, with datafiles, books and limited-edition art prints, as well as supporting customers) that led me to apply for this traineeship. I was delighted to be offered the position, and to now be here in Oxford!

Bodleian Law Library's 'Just in Corner' for new books and journal displays
Bodleian Law Library’s ‘Just in Corner’ for new books and journal displays

While the other Bodleian Law Library trainee is based in Academic Services, I am based in Information Resources. Throughout the day I help re-shelve books, handle scan and delivery requests, and do some book moving to create more shelf-space. But, for the most part, much of my time has been spent in my office with books – receiving legal deposit items, stamping, tattling, labelling and red-dotting books, updating spreadsheets, and working on book displays. With students now beginning to arrive, I am also anticipating a great many questions at the Enquiry Desk, which means I must continue to brush up on my knowledge of legal citations and the Bodleian Law Library’s layout!

So far, it has been a really interesting and exciting few weeks in Oxford. Everyone has been incredibly kind and welcoming, and I have really enjoyed learning more about librarianship and what goes on behind the scenes in academic libraries. I am very much looking forward to making the most of my time here, working in two libraries, attending training sessions with fellow graduate trainees, getting involved in the MOYS reclassification project at the Bodleian Law Library, and exploring Oxford; its colleges, gardens, libraries and museums!