Several college libraries in Oxford take part in the Bodleian’s training scheme for graduates (of any university) intending to become professional librarians. The fifth trainee at Jesus College is Oliver Miller, who wrote the following piece for the Oxford Libraries Graduate Trainees blog.
Hi, I’m Oliver and I am the Graduate Library Trainee at Jesus College. I have just completed my MSc in Security Studies, having previously studied Ancient History (both at UCL) and I am one of three trainees to have made the transfer from working for Buckinghamshire County Council’s libraries to Oxford (all of us somehow unaware at the time that we were simultaneously applying to become trainees). After working briefly for a public library, I decided that a career in librarianship would afford me the chance to interact with many different people with varied and interesting requests, and felt that the Oxford Libraries Trainee Scheme would be the perfect place to start such a career. I managed to convince Jesus College that I could be trusted to help run their libraries, and am now preparing to help all the new and returning students and researchers.
Jesus College has three libraries: the Meyricke, the Celtic and the Fellows’ Libraries. As Jesus has historically been the ‘Welsh college’ in Oxford, it consequently has a unique Celtic Library that houses a collection covering (perhaps obviously) Celtic languages, culture and history. As I come from a family with strong Welsh and Scottish ancestry, the college’s heritage particularly appeals to me (and is a source of considerable pride to my Welsh grandfather). However, years of holidays in Pembrokeshire and the Brecon Beacons seemingly did little to improve my Welsh, and I am forced to rely on Google Translate when attempting to classify books with titles such as ‘Pwy fydd yma ‘mhen can mlynedd?‘
Perhaps the most ostensibly impressive of my duties is helping to look after the Fellows’ Library. The library, dating from 1676–77 and having been refurbished to its full glory in 2008, houses the college’s antiquarian books, and each morning I conduct a small patrol to check that the library is in good order and that no leaks have suddenly sprung from the roof. I have been taught how to handle the collection properly, with every care being taken to ensure the books will both be preserved for future generations, but also still be of use to scholars studying them in the present day. Regardless I still feel slightly nervous when handling some of the collection; it’s not every day that you find yourself carrying a Greek Bible from 1545 signed by Philip Melanchthon!
Most of my time is spent looking after the Meyricke Library, which is the main library for students at the college. Often this involves reshelving books, tidying desks at the beginning and end of the day, processing new books for the library, and numerous other small jobs that are essential to the library’s day-to-day running. I have also used my first month here to create a new signage system for the library, in the hope that new (and perhaps even old) students will be able to find books more easily. Later this week the new students will receive their library inductions, so we will soon find out whether I have helped ease their task or simply sent them on wild goose chases around the library!
Oliver Miller (Graduate Library Trainee, 2017–18)