My name is Mark, and I’m one of four graduate library trainees at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS). The library here is huge, and makes up a large part of the Institute. As the national law library, it has a world-renowned collection of law volumes and a dedicated team of specialist law librarians, which makes this a very interesting and stimulating place to work. The focus of the library is on research facilitation, and so the readers tend to be academics, postgraduates and some practitioners – there are no undergraduates here. This tends to lead to a quiet and professional atmosphere in the library, as most readers have experience in how to use and behave in an academic library, and behave accordingly.
As one of four trainees at the library, my year here has been very well structured. Throughout the year each trainee moves through four different positions in the library - my own route has been: document delivery services; continuations; a different role within continuations; and finally, academic services. The document delivery service is an award-winning department which supplies legal documents to subscribing law firms, primarily via email. This was an interesting place to begin my year, as it involved searching for law materials (e.g. cases and journal articles) both on the catalogue and on the shelves, learning about copyright, working alongside many other staff members, and utilising photocopiers and scanning machines to deliver the documents. I then spent six months in continuations, which is the section of the library that handles law journals. This allowed me to take part in the full processing of journals, from the point at which they are delivered to them reaching the shelves. I also undertook some cataloguing, and made contact with some suppliers, which was a good experience. There was also a lot of time to undertake special projects, which gave a variety and depth to the role. I have now joined academic services, where I will support the enquiry desk and perform a wide range of duties, such as creating reader guides and producing leaflets. I am looking forward to my next three months here.
Another benefit of there being four trainees here has been the support that I have received from my fellow trainees, and the support that I can give back. I have enjoyed this, and it has been a big plus point of the position. One trainee has gone to each library visit organised by the other SAS trainees, we have all attended weekly training sessions on law and librarianship within IALS, and have also attended visits to other libraries organised by IALS. This has been a fascinating element of the year, and the chance to see how other libraries work and compare them with IALS has been a valuable one.
I am very happy that I have had the opportunity to work at IALS for a year, and to have done so on the graduate trainee scheme in particular. It has been a great year, in which I have met some wonderful people and had some very interesting experiences, and feel that this will prepare me well for my future career.