Several college libraries in Oxford take part in the Bodleian’s training scheme for graduates (of any university) intending to become professional librarians. The third trainee at Jesus College is Emma Jones, who wrote the following piece for the Oxford Libraries Graduate Trainees blog.
9 a.m. I compose myself after my attempt at a power walk while checking the emails and arranging book hold requests. Then it’s time to scan in and reshelve the returned books. I put anything inappropriate left on the desks overnight (empty bottles, odd socks, etc.) in lost property, which as term goes on begins to resemble a contraband amnesty box.
10 a.m. After a quick check of the environmental conditions in the historic Fellows’ Library, I collect the post. There are often book deliveries which need processing, classifying and adding to the catalogue. If a book request comes in from a student and there’s enough time, I dash out to Blackwell’s bookshop or find it online.
11 a.m. It’s term time, so I sit in one of the reading rooms to answer queries. I’m also there to keep a tab on noise levels and behaviour, but it’s exam time so there’s a self-policed moratorium on chatter, tomfoolery, and breathing too loudly.
12 p.m. As part of an ongoing project, I’m looking through some of the old, low-use books we’ve earmarked for weeding. I check SOLO to ensure that there’s still an accessible copy of each book in Oxford and then withdraw the College’s copies. Getting rid of books used to terrify me, but now I secretly enjoy it. More shelf space for new books and fewer irrelevant books for students to browse through is a win-win situation.
1 p.m. Lunch! As Joanne at St John’s mentioned, free lunches are one of the perks of working in a college library. They even have Yazoo milkshake here. As always, it’s something delicious.
2 p.m. Now it’s time to deal with some book donations. We’ve just finished with some German texts kindly left by a graduate, so today I’m going through a list of works which have been offered to the College’s specialist Celtic Library. As someone with only a smattering of Welsh and no knowledge of other Celtic languages, checking spellings and revising search terms to find these obscure texts can be slow work. But how many other people can say they’ve been looking for a book about medieval Cornish drama today?
4 p.m. Some guests are due to visit the Fellows’ Library next week, so I’ve been asked to find some rare books to display which match their interests (agriculture, apparently). I search SOLO and look through a shelflist of uncatalogued items, before going to inspect the condition of the books and look for engaging images of land surveying and silkworms.
5 p.m. Hometime.
Emma Jones (Graduate Library Trainee, 2013-14)