Archive for February, 2012

Social Media

Social Media « Oxford Libraries Graduate Trainee Programme.

My post on the Oxford Graduate Library Trainee Blog about our Social Media session and my ‘blog about blogs’ presentation.


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Libday8 – Graduate Trainee Session

Second Post for Library Day in the Life Project- Round 8.

As a graduate trainee at an Oxford college library, I am able to take part in the Bodleian library trainee scheme.  This involves attending sessions on Wednesday afternoons to learn about different aspects of librarianship and have the opportunity to develop different skills related to work in the library.  So far sessions have included topics such as; customer care, enquiry skills, resource discovery (using SOLO – Oxford’s library catalogue) and ‘career craft’ (advice on applying to Library School).  Last week I also had the opportunity to visit Oxford Brookes library to learn about how their library operates and what they offer their readers.


This week, trainees had the opportunity to learn more about special collections, archives and manuscripts.

The session began with an introduction to Special Collection activities at the Bodleian Library and Western Manuscripts.  Activities were broken down into three main tasks:

  • Acquire
  • Process
  • Market

What I found most interesting about these activities were the number of challenges faced by the special collections team. For example, raising the funds to acquire and process collections was a key issue – archivists are often hired temporarily by ‘project’ and the level of detail in which the project can be catalogued and archived depends on the amount of funding available.  There are also debates within the archiving community about whether or not the current level of detail is too rigorous, which means asking for funding can be even tougher!

I was also surprised to learn that eBay is a source of acquisition! Though often collections sold through eBay can be problematic – not least the issue of authenticity but also with collections being sold in ‘lots’ and ending up split and incomplete.


Following the introduction, we were then taken to visit three archivists to find out more about their roles at the Bodleian and Western Archives.

1. Cataloguing Archives:

When a new collection arrives it has to be catalogued into the archive.  The time this takes can vary depending on the amount of material.  The process involves various steps including: boxing the collection, listing items in the box, alphabetizing, creating a catalogue description and foliating.  The archivist also has to be aware of and deal with a number of legal issues when preparing the collection for viewing by researchers.

2. Digital Archives:

More resources arrive at archives in a digital form and the digital archivist faces the challenge of integrating a number of digital formats (some very much out of date!) into a user friendly, one platform format that readers and researchers can access more effectively.  The digital archivist is also focused on acquiring copies of internet resources (websites) related to current archive collections.

The idea of digitizing all of the collections in the Bodleian archives was raised and while digitization has many positive aspects, such as accessibility and as a revenue source, the practicalities and expense involved make it an unrealistic goal.

3. Saving Oxford Medicine:  

One of the current projects at Western Manuscripts –to find out more click here.


The session ended in the best of ways – with tea and biscuits!


Prior to this trainee session I’d had an interest in special collections as it appealed to my love of history but I didn’t know much more about what the role involved.  The session really helped me to understand the challenges facing the profession and the fascinating and diverse materials archivists are able to engage with and preserve.

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LibDay8 – Top 5 Daily Jobs

Welcome to my quick fire introduction to the main daily jobs I have as a Graduate Trainee at St Hugh’s College Library, written for Library Day in the Life Project – Round 8 .

Although I have only been working in libraries for a short time (it’s my first month anniversary this week!) I thought it might be useful for those out there who are considering applying for a Graduate Traineeship to know a little bit about what is expected of a trainee in the early stages.  This of course isn’t a set list of jobs that all trainee’s do – its just an example of some of the typical daily tasks I have at the library.

So without further ado…

1. Answering Enquiries

Working in the library is all about helping its readers- whomever they may be! So far this week the main enquiries we’ve had at the library office include:

  • Help finding books on the shelves
  • Wanting to renew books
  • Collecting books from the Stacks
  • Help using the printer/copier
  • Wanting to know how to add credit to printer/copier card

Most of these are pretty straight forward but one of the great things about working in a library team is having someone else to ask for help when you don’t know the answers!  When you do know the answers though – its a great feeling to know you helped someone out.

2. Shelving

The bread and butter of my library day!

Monday's shelving for downstairs reading rooms

Usually, shelving takes between 1-2 hours but Mondays are always a lot busier as St Hugh’s is open 24/7 and there’s a weekend backlog.  Our ‘waiting to be re-shelved’ shelves are very handy, both for readers searching for books and for sorting books into reading room sections before re-shelving!

3. Processing

When new books come into the library either having been purchased or donated they need to be processed.  Normally they come to me after being added to the library catalogue by our Assistant Librarian.  Processing involves:

  1. Typing up and printing out spine labels
  2. Edge stamping
  3. Adding the ‘St Hugh’s’ book plate (writing on if the book was donated)
  4. Adding a tag and activating the security on the book (bar-code scanners are fun!)
  5. Covering the books in sticky back plastic! (At first this was a bit of a challenge but my skills with the roll of sticky stuff have improved!)

I sometimes get the odd book that’s been processed but needs a tag.  We have shelves in our office where we store books that are waiting for different jobs – yesterday I made colour coded labels to show where the books need to go. [Why not, right?]

4. Repair

Healing poorly books with glue and special sticky tape!

5. Reclassification

As a number of books at St Hugh’s have inaccurate or incomplete shelfmarks we are currently working on a project to reclassify them.  This involves finding the book on the British Library Website, locating the dewy number (e.g. 907.204) and adding a suffix – usually the first three letters of the author’s surname or the first three letters of the book title if an editor.  I add a new spine label with the reclassified shelfmark and change the information in ALEPH – our library system.


   …from this to this…

I began on the 901 history books and am now nearly finished the 909s! This week so far I’ve reclassified about 88 books. Total reclassified so far: 276 and counting!

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