Trainee project showcase – The Oxford Traineeship: Past, Present and Future

On Wednesday the trainees had the opportunity to present our trainee projects to our supervisors and fellow trainees.

My project was called ‘The Oxford Traineeship: Past, Present and Future’. It was initially meant to be a history of the traineeship, but I encountered some problems finding information (not encouraging for a prospective librarian!) so it has turned into a report on the traineeship as it is now with some reflection on the past and the future.

I started out by finding an article called ‘Evolution: The Oxford Traineeship’ (SCONUL Focus Number 83 Summer/Autumn 2006) which showed how the traineeship worked 5 years ago. I then spent some time at Osney looking through files and finally sent out a questionnaire asking the other trainees what they do on a day-to-day basis.

The following is a section from my presentation which I found interesting:

“I haven’t been able to find out the exact date that the traineeship as we know it began – I am aware of trainees from as long as 20 years ago. However, in the 1880s, Bodley’s Librarian, Edward Williams Byron Nicholson began to employ boys as a cheap form of labour with the incentive that they could have the opportunity to gain an Oxford degree. He paid them “10 shillings a week until they qualified for matriculation in the University, when they were put up to the higher wage of £60 a year” – these employees were known as the Bodley Boys. In 1948, the first ‘Bodley Girl’ was employed and was able to gain a pass degree at St Anne’s while working in the Library. Although this scheme differs greatly to the current set-up – it was more of a chance for people to gain a degree, than to gain library experience, I feel that it can be seen as an early manifestation of the traineeship. It also shows that the Bodleian, specifically, has been dedicated to the education and training of eager individuals for hundreds of years.”

See more trainee presentations here.

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