Institute of Advanced Legal Studies Library
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. 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.
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. I then spent six months in continuations, which is the section of the library that handles law journals. I 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 have enjoyed being part of a team of four trainees, 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.
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.
Institute of Classical Studies Library
My name is Katie Rose, and I'm the graduate library trainee at the Institute of Classical Studies. This library is unique, to say the least. With a small number of staff and a high level of expertise, our collections reflect the high level of research our readers are engaged in. Our attention is focused on obtaining the best scholarly material available on all aspects of the ancient world, particularly the Greek and Roman worlds. We acquire new books daily, and so far have been fortunate in not having to weed our collections too often, despite having had to relocate the library three times in the past ten years (our third move is scheduled for March 2009).
For me, the readers are the best bit of the library; they include undergraduates, postgraduates and academics from universities in the U.K and all over the world, and people who just love Classics. I love talking to them and learning about their work. I am stationed on one of the circulation desks and my main responsibilities include circulation, membership, reader enquiries and research. I am in charge of the postal loans and research (which we do a lot of) and inter-library loans.
I think this year has taught me to create my own work schedule and priorities, and to be more independent. During the year I have gone to many training events, visits and lectures organised by CILIP and CPD25, and I have really valued being part of the SAS/ULRLS trainee group- that has actually become much more important than I previously thought it would be.
My current career plans are to see if I can get funding to do the MA in Library and Information Studies at UCL. If I don't go to UCL next academic year, I will continue to work in libraries until I decide to do the MA and become qualified. This year so far has opened my mind to the fact that there are so many different sorts of libraries and librarians, and I would love to gain experience in sectors outside the academic research library.
Institute of Commonwealth Studies Library
My name is Sheena. I am the graduate trainee at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies As its name suggests the collection focuses on the affairs of Commonwealth countries. It also has a fascinating archive which people come from all over the world to consult, in particular material relating to slavery in the Caribbean and the anti-apartheid movement. Coming from Zimbabwe, a lot of the material has a particular interest for me.
Most of the users are either teaching or studying at a UK university. The majority of users are doing an MA in Human Rights at the Institute. Their course material is in the reading room and can be borrowed by them. The rest of the collection is closed access and for reference only. We also have a regular flow of overseas visitors, especially to consult the archives. In total there are 6 people working in the library so I have the opportunity to become involved in a wide range of library tasks including inter library loans, accessioning, downloading records, checking in serials, monthly statistics, and helping to prepare training material for library users, as well as regular duties in the reading room and anything else that I am asked to do.
The graduate training year has turned out to be full of more opportunities than I expected. I am the trainee co-ordinator and help to put the training programme together, a role which I am enjoying enormously. I am also enjoying the chance to network with other trainees. There are regular visits to different libraries, as well as IT training as part of the University of London's staff development programme, and access to University lectures and seminars.
I have a place on the MA in Library and Information Studies at UCL. My feeling at the moment is that I would eventually like to work in user services in either an academic or specialist library, but I will have the opportunity this year to visit a number of other libraries to test this out, including a medical library and two public libraries.
Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies Library
Hi, I'm Sonja and I am working at the Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies Library (Germanic Studies Library for short). It is a very small library with an even smaller team (currently only three, including me). The library is focused on German language and literature, holding about 75,000 volumes, 25,000 periodical issues and some archives.
As I have studied German I find it inspiring to get in touch with the whole variety of German Studies. I keep noting down the titles of books that I want to have a look at one day (this list grows steadily!) I mainly deal with acquisitions, invoices, periodicals and standing orders, and of course shelving and reader inquiries (of which we unfortunately don't get too many).
What I really like about working in a small library is that you get to know the readers and their work, which makes it very personal. The downside of being such a specialized library is that we usually don't have many readers in and I would personally prefer a bit livelier surroundings. Most of our readers are researchers or PhD students, most of them with some sort of a German background. And as we get a lot of books directly from Germany, Austria or Switzerland, I am corresponding quite a lot in German. I like this bilingual work, even if it sometimes results in a little language mix-up.
I try to make it to as many library visits as possible because it is a great opportunity to see all different kinds of libraries and also to meet up with the other trainees. These visits have actually made me realise how diverse this job can be. I also have been improving my computer skills thanks to the many IT courses at the University. My future plans are still a bit uncertain at the moment. I have applied for the MA in Library and Information Studies at City University, and am excited about the prospect of continuing studying in London. However in the future I would like to move back to Zurich and work in libraries there.
Institute of Historical Research Library
Hi, my name is Micol and I am the trainee at the Institute of Historical Research. The IHR’s aim is to promote the study of history and provide a meeting place for researchers. In order to achieve this, numerous seminars and conferences are organised every day, as well as MA courses. The Institute also houses three research centres: the Centre for Metropolitan History (CMH), the Centre for Contemporary British History (CCBH) and the Victoria County History (VCH). More crucially it also has an amazing library!
The collection is mainly focused on printed historical primary sources for the medieval and modern history of European countries and their former colonies. Therefore, we collect things like diplomatic papers, ecclesiastical records, charters, correspondences and diaries. The collection also has substantial holdings of reference works, such as guides to archives, bibliographies, historical dictionaries, atlases and biographical sources. In short, anything that could help a researcher with his work.
As a graduate trainee I am mainly involved in acquisitions, dealing with sellers and suppliers and processing invoices. I check the books in when they arrive, classify them and on some occasions, catalogue them. Luckily a cataloguer checks my bibliographic records so we don’t end up with bizarre entries! I also answer enquiries from the readers, which I find particularly interesting and challenging.
I really enjoy working here as it’s a very varied kind of job and I am constantly learning new things. Moreover, I studied history at university so reading book reviews of newly published works in this field and finding out what historians are working on is great. I also love the training programme and the visits to different libraries; it is helping me form an idea of where I would like to work later. Next year I should hopefully start the MA at UCL. I am really looking forward to that.
Birkbeck College Library
My name is Deborah Butcher, and I’m the graduate trainee at Birkbeck college library. Birkbeck is London’s only specialist provider of evening higher education. Our library’s extended opening hours, and its emphasis on providing and extending its broad range of e-resources, reflect the needs of part-time and distance learners.
As a trainee at Birkbeck, and part of a large team of staff, I have been fortunate enough to be able to sample the work of each department, spending at least a month with each individual team. However, the bulk of my time is spent within the Resource Management team where I have been responsible for accessioning items, cataloguing theses and reclassifying items. I have also worked extensively with the e-journals assistant, and learned much about managing online subscriptions and troubleshooting access queries. At the beginning of term, I had the opportunity to work on updating the library’s webpage, which I really enjoyed.
On a daily basis, I work on the busy issue desk, dealing with membership and circulations enquiries, and I very much enjoy the interaction with the readers that this provides. I have also given library tours and brief training sessions in the use of the library Opac to groups of students at the beginning of term, which gave me the opportunity to chat with new students and to discover more about their research needs and expectations of an academic library.
Before my graduate traineeship, I had already spent a year working at City University’s Reader Services’ department. I had also worked for 2 years in public libraries, mainly in the children’s section, organising outreach events and homework clubs, liaising with local schools, and creating displays. I liked this work because it gave me the opportunity to get to know the individual children and to work as part of a small team, which of course gave me the opportunity to get involved in many different activities. After gaining my masters, I would like to broaden my experience of different information sectors, and possibly to work in prison, media or health libraries.
City University Law School Library
My name is Hilary and I am the graduate trainee at The City Law School Library, part of City University. The library is in Gray’s Inn Place, close to the central London law courts and the Inns of Court. The library’s collection includes: practitioner texts and loose-leaf works, law reports, legal journals, practical skills books, legal encyclopaedias and mooting DVDs. It also makes available electronic law resources to the students, such as Westlaw, LexisNexis and HeinOnline.
The library’s users are mainly students enrolled on City University’s Bar Vocational Course, Legal Practice Course or LLM courses. I have a legal background myself, so the library is the ideal place for me to work! My main duties are: assisting at the enquiry desk for a few hours each day; carrying out finance related tasks such as maintaining the invoices register and other relevant spreadsheets; dealing with withdrawals of old stock and book returns, and gathering statistics.
I really enjoy being able to help the students with their legal research enquiries and one of the best things about the job for me is that I have been able to help out with training the students on how best to use the legal resources available to them. I also post information on the website for our Law School students: www.lawborepro.net. Through this website, our students access legal resources, find out about news and events, and read articles on different areas of the law.
On Fridays I work in the law library at City University’s main (Northampton Square) library. I assist the law librarian there with preparing material for City University’s legal portal www.lawbore.net. I also sit at the enquiry desk on the law library floor and answer any questions that the students might have about the collection there. Most recently, I have been involved in the marking of online legal resources assessments which test the students on their legal research skills.
In September I am going to do the MSc Information Science course at City University, which I am really looking forward to.
City University Library
My name is Sophia Hendrikx and I am the graduate trainee at City University's main library. The library covers a broad range of subjects including informatics, law, engineering & mathematical sciences, arts, social sciences and health sciences. Our readers are mainly the university's own students, both under and postgraduate, and staff, as well as members of the broader academic community. More than 40% of our students are international, and I enjoy the diversity of our readers.
At the moment, the library is executing a long term project making a significant portion of its resources, and the majority of its 1500 current journals available electronically. This is being combined with a large scale refurbishment increasing the study space and providing a mix of group and informal, as well as individual and silent study spaces. Although personally I have my reservations about electronic libraries (for starters a library without many printed books is a somewhat sad sight!) it is certainly an exciting project and it is interesting to see it take form. However, my hours spent on the issue desk are often my favourite part of the day. I enjoy the interaction with our readers and particularly getting feedback about the new electronic resources.
My professional background is in the rare books trade and when I started my graduate trainee year it was quite a change and I found it hard to adjust sometimes. But so far my experiences here have been very positive and I definitely would like to keep working for university libraries in the future. At some point I intend to take the MSc in Library and Information Studies at City.
Courtauld Institute of Art Library
Hiya, I'm Victoria and I'm a trainee at the Courtauld Institute library. A bit about the Courtauld library: The Courtauld Institute of Art is a centre for the study of art history and conservation. Hence the majority of library users are Courtauld BA and MA art history students and Courtauld research and teaching staff.
The Library’s collection reflects this, covering the history of western art and comprising of books, exhibition catalogues, permanent collection catalogues, sales catalogues, theses, rare books, pamphlets and some online and digital material. The Institute is based at Somerset House (a pretty swell location) and the library itself is underground, in the old brick vaults which apparently used to be grain storage and cellars. This has the advantage of having no mobile phone reception but also a worrying tendency to flooding and leaks!
Most of the collection is catalogued on the online catalogue however there are still a large number of items only recorded on the old card catalogue. There are no plans for retrospective cataloguing; instead such things are catalogued on an as-and-when basis, (ie. if a user wishes to borrow them). Most of the collection can be borrowed and is on the open shelves but some of the older and more precious material is stashed away and staff retrieve material several times a day.
My own background is in art and I’m a total bookworm so I love working here. On a day to day basis I do a bit of everything: issue desk, cataloguing, accessioning, serials and helping sort through some of the special collections. I’m currently torn between applying for library school and returning to art college!
The Courtauld Book Library is a small specialized art history library serving mainly the academic community of the Courtauld Institute. Our users are primarily the Courtauld academic staff and students, although we do also get external visitors - mainly students and researchers from other universities, galleries and museums. We allow access to members of the public on a 'last resort' basis, for example, if they are looking for a resource not available elsewhere in London.
Our responsibilities as trainees are varied. We are solely responsible for receiving and accessioning books, managing the inter-library loans service, answering general telephone enquiries, and opening and distributing the post. However, on a day to day basis we help with tasks such as processing and cataloguing of books, staffing the issue desk, processing periodicals when they arrive and assisting the special collections librarian. All the staff take part in shared duties on a rota system, such as retrieving items from special collections/pamphlets and theses, and replying to e-mails in the library enquiries account.
My personal challenges during the trainee year have been: finding affordable and good-quality places to have lunch. Also, resisting the temptation to spend the day reading, looking at pictures and flipping through new journals and exhibition catalogues. My current career plans are a bit vague at the moment as my work visa expires at the end of my trainee year and is non-renewable, so I will probably be leaving this country to start a rock band somewhere.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office Library
My name is Holly and I am currently a graduate trainee in a government legal library. The library caters, primarily, for the departmental legal advisers. We maintain a small collection of books, journals, government reports and international material, as well as subscribing to a number of electronic databases.
As the trainee my tasks include, book ordering, cataloguing, checking in journals, processing invoices for payment, indexing, inter-library loans, caring out research, providing access to electronic databases, distribution of journals and general library maintenance. Working within a small team I have had the opportunity to contribute to most aspects of the running of the Library and have been included in decision making processes regarding the services we offer.
Attending visits with the London University trainees has been a real privilege, giving me insight into the variety of libraries our capital has to offer. It has also been really helpful to be able to meet other budding librarians and share ideas on MA applications and future career choices.
Working with in the legal sector has been really interesting and rewarding. I have really enjoyed learning about the wealth of legal resources on offer and how best to navigate through them. I hope to take the MA in Library and Information Studies at UCL next year. On graduation I would like to further my experience in a Legal Library.
London School of Economics Library
Hi, my name is Ruth and I am the trainee at the London School of Economics Library, also known as the British Library of Political and Economic Science. It is the largest social science library in the world and a great place to work!
My roles within the library are many and varied. I am based primarily within the Special Acquisitions Unit of Bibliogrpahic Services, which in turn is part of the Technical Services Department. My duties here include researching, sourcing and acquiring rare, out of print and ‘grey’ literature for our collection. (For those of you unfamiliar with 'grey lit' as I was before I started, these are one of publications by charities, unions, corporations and similar organisations.)
I also accession incoming books and do some basic cataloging amendments. In addition, I have responsibility for maintaining our law standing orders, government publications and UN deposits. I also have a combination of service counter, admissions and information/help desk duties throughout the week. I enjoy most being on the information desk and having direct contact with the students and staff, learning about their research, helping them with queries and promoting our resources.
I spend one day a week in User Services, last term I was working with the Inter-Library loans team and this term I am working with Circulation. I have also spent an afternoon a week moving about all the other teams, so far I have spent time with serials, print collections, teaching support services, and within the Information Services department with collection management, user information and eprints.
I'm planning to do the UCL MA in Library and Information Studies next year. I have also partaken in several internal and external training courses and library visits. I have really enjoyed meeting all the other trainees and I think the network is a great idea.
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