Archive for September, 2012


Hello all! I`m Niall, the Graduate Trainee for St. Hilda`s College Library. I am a History graduate with a BA and MSc from University College Dublin and the University of Edinburgh respectively.

I have arrived in Oxford having recently worked in the University of Birmingham library and am delighted by the upgrade in architecture. Walking through the Bodleian on my way to work each morning is a wonderful bonus indeed.

I am looking forward to working this year as part of a small team in a busy library and getting to grips with the unique features of the Oxford collegiate system. This week past we had quite a number of alumni visiting as part of Gaudy weekend, some of whom regaled me with their memories of descending the back stairs from their lodgings in the dead of night to the permanently accessible library. These days only the Law students have 24 hour access in term time, student dedication is clearly on the wane in Oxford. Mercifully my first three weeks have been relatively quiet, although having spent a day and a half creating reader records for all incoming undergraduates and postgraduates I am preparing myself for the inevitable influx come 1st week.

So far I have mainly been processing new books (including the creation of spine labels with our old forgotten friend, the typewriter), accessioning journals, shelving, withdrawing items and undertaking stock moves to deal with a growing collection and the ever-present bane of libraries, lack of space. I have begun ordering books from suppliers on behalf of the subject tutors and will be responsible for this and handling student requests to purchase books during the year. As one of only three members of staff I am sure I will have a very busy year and gain a good understanding of the many different aspects of running a college library.

The library itself is a situated in the very pleasant college grounds on the banks of the Cherwell, complete with its own punts which I hope to master in the coming months. I am greatly looking forward to this year`s training with you all.

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My first weeks at Jesus College have been a fascinating introduction to the life of a college library. Each of the three different collections—the soon-to-be busy undergraduate Meyricke Library, the Celtic Library, and the pre-1800s Fellows’ Library—has come with its own procedures and priorities. Last week, the Oxford Conservation Consortium came to the Fellows’ library and explained their current project of conserving the fragile vellum bindings of many of the collection. I was particularly struck by the desire to maintain the aesthetic of the library—Jesus College’s rare printed books collection being housed in its original 1679 home—and the need for ongoing conservation. Simple measures like neutral coloured book tape (instead of black or even white) are slowly making the hand of the conservator less visible to the eye and thereby preserving the authenticity of the library itself. A display we prepared for the CILIP Rare Books Conference delegates gave me the opportunity to see and handle some of our treasures, a particular highlight being the 1620 Welsh Bible translated by Bishop William Morgan. I was both inspired and daunted in the face of such a document, especially as I will be beginning Welsh classes this year!

The day-to-day is not always so obviously rich in history and the dust from leather bindings. I’ve also been learning about what it means to run an efficient library for undergraduates, and that means little room for sentimentality over books that are out of date or unused. As we prepare for the return of undergraduates, I’m anticipating seeing how the dynamics of the library accelerate— thankfully sessions like today’s circulation training will enable me to keep up the pace!

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Hello, fellow trainees!

I’m working at St John’s College library, and can’t quite believe that I’m seven weeks in already!  My first two and a half weeks were pretty much entirely taken up with the stock-check; I think you all have the pleasure of this to look forward to next summer as we approach the end of our traineeships… The good thing about it was that I am now an expert in the location of every subject in the library!

However, any sense of my being well-acquainted with the library was doomed not to last, as the Oxford Open Doors weekend approached.  For the first time, the library was opening its doors to the public as part of the city-wide event, and they weren’t going to care in which area of the library one might find John Guy’s Tudor England.  I had to be prepared for a different kind of enquiry that was undoubtedly going to be thrown at me.  When was the library built?  How many books does it house?  Whose walking stick is that?  So I should be pretty well-practised for when it’s my turn to host a tour!

Just to introduce myself a bit more: in July 2011 I graduated from the University of York, where I studied English.  I am originally from Rutland, the smallest county in England, but have been living in Oxfordshire for a year.  Before beginning my traineeship, I spent a few months volunteering in two secondary school libraries (one independent, one state), Regent’s Park College and the fair-trade shop in the city centre.

I’m really looking forward to getting to know you all over the next year.  Enjoy!

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Hi everyone, I’m Jennifer and I’m one of the two trainees at the Social Science Library.  We are now into our third week here and most of what we’re doing has been behind the scenes as we’re not yet on the issue desk until we’ve had our circulation training (something that will change later this week).  We’re kept very busy with shelving, book processing, photocopying, answering emails, making room bookings, checking reading lists, trying to deal with the post and where it goes…along with all the training and learning.  I feel very lucky to be working in such a large, busy, and well organised library.  It doesn’t matter if I can’t remember anything I’m told, because there is an extensive staff manual!   I’m really enjoying everything so far, and everyone has made us feel very welcome.  I look forward to what the next year brings.

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Hi everyone! As you can probably guess from the picture (right), I’m Nuffield College’s 2012 Library Trainee. This is the start of my third week here, and I am slowly but surely getting to grips with my many and varied tasks! So far I’ve been doing shifts on the circulation desk; trying to remember which switches do what as I get the library ready for readers coming in each morning, and resisting the temptation to read each newspaper as I check it in. I’ve also been learning how to process new acquisitions – Nuffield gets a lot of journals and government publications – and have just begun the heady task of initiating orders (I’m being trusted with the credit card – argh!)

I’ve spent quite a bit of time going up and down in Nuffield’s old-fashioned cage lift, partly because I keep forgetting my key for the closed access shelves… I have also been acquainting myself with the label maker as I get books ready to go out on the shelves. Shelving is also playing a part in keeping me fit this year (who needs a gym membership?) as I run up and down the tower steps! Everyone here at Nuffield is very friendly and willing to help, even if I ask what seem to be completely random questions. Hopefully at some point everything will, as they promise me, become second nature, but for now I’m just enjoying the novelty of it all (and the free lunches).

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The Great Bodleian Tour 2012

Tower of the Five Orders

On Tuesday 11th September the graduate trainees of 2012/13 were invited for a tour of the Bodleian, followed by a wine reception. We were met by Vanessa Corrick and Kate Petherbridge in the Old Quad, where we tried not to look too much like tourists and, ironically for a group of wannabe librarians, were shushed by the diligent Quad patrols…­

We worked our way up myriad staircases until we reached the impressive Special Collections room where the Bodleian’s rare books are housed, then creaked and squeaked our way through the reading rooms (the silence really augments any footfalls, and a gaggle of graduate trainees trooping through raised a few heads from books!)

The History Faculty’s new home

In the Radcliffe Camera, we were confronted by empty shelves in the upper level. A major shift of the History Faculty’s entire stock meant that we were present at one of the few times that a room in the Bodleian would be seen in such a bookless state; the shelves are awaiting the History department’s books, currently being reclassified. It is hard to believe that the entire space will be filled before 0thweek, but staff are optimistic that everything will be ready in time for the students’ arrival. It was a good example of the dedication and hard work of librarians behind-the-scenes to ensure that they are ready to provide their customers with a timely service.

After the tour it was time for wine and nibbles and mingling with library staff from all around Oxford, who were only too happy to explain their routes into the profession and to provide the trainees with sage advice. Mike Heaney, Executive Secretary at the Bodleian, welcomed us all and assured us that we were at the start of a great year ahead: something that everyone was happy to raise a glass to!

Some of the trainees in the Old Schools Quad, joined by the Earl of Pembroke!

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Hello I’m Laura, the graduate trainee in the History Faculty Library.  I’ve had a brilliant first full week at work: book processing, shelving, going on library tours and getting to grips with the circulation desk.  I’ve been feeling particularly privileged to turn up for work every morning at the Radcliffe Camera, where the HFL has just relocated, and I’m looking forward to an exciting and sociable year ahead getting to know you all.  Please stop and introduce yourself if you see me around!

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