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Archive for October, 2013

Hi, I’m Niamh, the trainee at Nuffield College Library.  I studied for an M.A. in Philosophy and Theatre at the University of Glasgow, and then an M.Litt in Philosophy at the University of St. Andrews. Shortly after finishing at St. Andrews I decided to take the plunge and find out whether or not I enjoyed working in libraries as much as I suspected I might. I accepted the first job I was offered – which happened to be at the University Library, in Cambridge. Consequently, I found myself on a series of trains, accompanied by as many of my worldly possessions as I could carry, travelling pretty much the length of the country, one snowy weekend back in January.

Thankfully, the move paid off, and I spent a happy six months at the UL. In my short time at Nuffield I have already been able to build substantially on my previous experience. I’ve very much enjoyed getting to grips with the wide variety of the duties required of the trainee at Nuffield (from leading tours of the library to ordering and processing a constant stream of new books). The skills and knowledge I’ve gained at work so far have been complimented excellently by the training provided on the graduate scheme itself – which often offers the opportunity to explore aspects of my day-to-day work in greater detail (and in a risk-free environment!).

The year has only just begun, however, and I for one am greatly look forward to seeing what challenges still await us!

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Humble greetings from the SSL!

My name is Luke, and along with Anja I am one of the two trainees working at the Bodleian Social Science Library. I’ve been meaning to write a post on the blog for a while now, but life at the SSL is anything but quiet! To get things going I’ll follow the example of my fellow Trainees, and tell you a little about me.

This year I graduate from the University of Gloucestershire with a 1:1 in Religion, Philosophy and Ethics (unlike some fancier Universities my ceremony isn’t until November!) and during my time at University I had several jobs. After deciding retail wasn’t for me, I made what I now realise to be quite an important decision. Having worked as a Student Temp for my campus Library, I was lucky enough to be promoted to the position of Library Advisor at Francis Close Hall. It was hard work at times but lots of fun; I really enjoyed working with a fantastic team of people, and I think that perhaps that was what inspired me to participate in this year’s Graduate Trainee Scheme. That and one of my colleagues at the time sent me a timely link to the advert on the Bodleian website! 

As I don’t live in Oxford I’ve found the biggest challenge so far has been getting to work. Buses aren’t my favourite thing, and it’s a bit expensive to drive all the time, but I think I’m getting the hang of my routine now. It’s been really fun meeting all of the Trainees, and I’m lucky to be able to work with Anja who (just about) manages to keep me on track most of the time.

In terms of the role itself, being a Graduate Trainee at the SSL really is an experience. Despite the title, Anja and I are responsible for a number of things. A truncated list would include managing the generic e-mail account, booking group study rooms, creating and managing invoices and overdue notices, looking after the processes surrounding missing, lost, and ‘claimed returned’ books, handling the post, and lots of other more usual Trainee things like shelving and sitting at the issue desk. Though it initially seemed like a lot of work, I think it’s fair to say that Anja and I are really enjoying ourselves.  

Because our role straddles the worlds of Reader Services (anything to do with helping readers – front of house stuff) and Technical Services (anything to do with managing the resources that the Library has – behind the scenes stuff), we’re getting a fantastic insight into the workings of a University Library, which even with a fair amount of experience I was still largely in the dark about in some cases. There have even been some opportunities to make original contributions to the Library – we’ve recently finished setting up the SSL twitter account at https://twitter.com/SSLBod!

The regular training supplied by the Graduate Trainee scheme has been incredibly helpful so far, and in conjunction with some of the courses offered by IT services at the University it is set to be more and more useful and informative. Everyone involved with the scheme (and especially everyone at the SSL) is really friendly, and I’m so glad I got to be a 2013/14 Graduate Trainee!

Hopefully I’ll be able to give you guys an update later in the year. Until then, ciao!

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Hi, I’m Lucy and I’m the trainee at the Sackler (Classics) Library this year. I graduated in 2012 with a BA in Classical Archaeology and Ancient History from Oxford. I’ve spent the last 12 months working at a children’s bookshop in Cambridge and volunteering in a couple of Cambridge University Libraries to gain more experience of library work. Although volunteering in a Psychology Library and an Agricultural Archive was really interesting,  it feels nice to be returning to my subject area and a little odd to be returning to the library where I spent a great deal of my undergrad studying!

The Sackler library was opened in 2001 and houses the collections belonging to the old Ashmolean Museum. The building was designed with its classical subject areas in mind and the circular layout of the building is quite unusual too. This, along with a number of different classification systems taken from the old libraries, can sometimes make navigating the library quite confusing! 

The trainee scheme has been quite busy so far. It’s been great getting to know all the likeminded trainees who enjoy all things library related and to be getting to grips with library work. In the month since starting at the Sackler, I’ve mainly been based on the issue desk and in the technical services room, processing new books, all whilst trying not to look too lost when wandering round the identical circular floors!

As well as the work, there’s also been plenty of time for tea, cake and bumping into unsuspecting former tutors, who seem quite startled to see me back again behind the issue desk! I’m looking forward to the rest of the year and excited to make use of all the opportunities the trainee graduate scheme has to offer.

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Hello Everyone. I’m Eóin, the trainee at the Radcliffe Science Library. I graduated from UCL in 2010 with a degree in Theoretical Physics. Since then I have worked in a bookshop and completed an internship at a publishing house.

So far I have mainly been on the issue desk, learning and performing the basics of circulation as well as helping readers out with any printing or scanning issues but I’m also looking forward to spending some time with the subject librarians and collections team in the coming weeks.

When term starts I will be spending a day a week at two smaller libraries, the Sherardian Library of Plant Taxonomy and the Alexander Library of Ornithology. I’ll also have a short stint at the Health Care Libraries around Christmas. 

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The Old Library

This week, we had a Monday morning treat in the form of our first trainee-led library tour. Joanne welcomed us into St John’s with a bit of historical background, describing the college’s foundation by a wealthy Merchant Taylor and its staunch loyalty to the Royalist cause during the Civil Wars. In fact, finding images of King Charles I in and around the library took on a distinctly Where’s Wally feel after a while!

We were welcomed in and asked to stow our bags safely behind the desk: in contrast to most of the reading rooms we saw on the Bod tour, the librarians are the main form of book detectors here. Then it was onwards into the Paddy Room, a light and spacious area with open shelves holding the library’s science, social sciences and DVD collections.

Upstairs provided a striking change of scene with the Old Library, complete with a laser security system (which Joanne managed to disable for us with her secret library ninja ways). One of the other librarians, Stewart Tiley, then treated us to a hands-on display of some of the manuscripts and early printed books. These works were passed around very gingerly! As we walked through we took in some of the display on the Seven Deadly Sins organised by Joanne’s predecessor; who knew Jane Austen would be one of the guilty party?

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The Laudian Library

We then passed into the Laudian Library, named after Charles I’s archbishop. As well as holding modern humanities works and providing an atmospheric workspace for readers, this room housed yet more special collections.

We saw a botched piece of royal propaganda, a tiny New Testament written in indecipherable shorthand and a Renaissance horoscope. Some of the more bizarre curios included a macabre walking stick used by Laud right up until his execution,  while Stewart suggested the reinstatement of the skeletons which used to flank the door. And to keep up the Charles I quota, there was an image of the king composed of a psalm in miniscule handwriting.

Finally, we got to take a peek into the archives, which offered a mix of the modern and the unique. St John’s is very lucky to hold collections of papers previously belonging to Robert Graves and Spike Milligan. What better way to finish a visit by looking at the Milligan’s illustration of Fluffybum the cat?

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