Institute of Classical Studies Library
I have always enjoyed libraries. Aside from spending a great deal of time in them, both for leisure and study, at school I was a member of the library committee, helping to select new books. When I went to university to study Classics, I became a member of the library committee of the Oxford Union, which managed the collection and budget of the Union’s specialist library. However, I didn’t consider librarianship as a career until a chance conversation with a friend in my final year, who mentioned that her brother was doing a library traineeship. It sounded interesting, and so I began to do some research. Resources like the CILIP website, and online projects such as Library Day in the Life and Library Routes helped to paint a picture of just how diverse and interesting librarianship could be, and with visions of cranky spinsters with multiple cats dispelled, I realized that librarianship might be a good fit with my skills and interests. I applied for several traineeships and was delighted to be accepted by the Institute of Classical Studies, where I could get a taste of the subject while also being able to use my degree. The library is small and very specialist, its collection mainly consisting of the collections of the Societies for the Promotion of Hellenic and Roman Studies, as well as the reference collection of the Institute of Classical Studies. My day-to-day work varies. Sometimes I work on the desk, where I handle enquiries from readers (ranging from how to use the online catalogue to discussions of ancient Greek grammar), sign up new members for the societies, maintain the library’s blog, and send out books to members and for review in the societies’ journals. At other times, I’m behind the scenes, processing newly acquired books, repairing damaged books, and working on various projects (currently, a redesign of the material promoting our electronic resources).
Courtauld Institute of Art Library
I studied Ceramics for two years before undertaking a BA in Illustration at University College Falmouth. After finishing my degree I went straight into the Information Management in the Cultural Sector Masters programme at City University in London, and passed with a merit in December 2011. Whilst doing my undergrad degree I worked in the University library for 3 years. In this time I was part of 3 major projects, one of which was the implementation of RFID. I enjoyed my job as much as my degree and thought that combining them in some way would be a good career move for the future.
I chose the IMCS course because it was the only Cilip accredited programme that lent towards the arts as well as information management/library studies. The combination of practical and theoretical study was stimulating and I found that you could easily tailor assignments to your own personal interests and that this was encouraged and supported by lecturers. To further my career progression into Art Librarianship I applied for the Graduate Trainee position at the Courtauld, as again, it is the only placement that specifically met my requirements of being a solely arts based library. I am hoping to go on into arts specific user education, for practice based art courses and research.
Institute of Historical Research Library
Having used libraries throughout my history degree at Edinburgh, I decided in my final year to apply for a library traineeship to explore a career in an environment I had always enjoyed. I had gained some insight into the career by talking to librarians whilst working as a shelving assistant at the University of Edinburgh’s main library and after desperately googling something along the lines of ‘is there anything I can do with a history degree?’ I found links to the CILIP website. The idea of a traineeship was very appealing as it meant I was able to give myself a trial period to see whether or not this was a career I wanted to pursue.
The trainee position at the IHR sounded perfect as it combined my academic and career interests and having had an offer I immediately accepted the job. The IHR’s collection is based on primary sources to provide students and academics with a ‘historical workshop’. The amount of material held published prior to the 20th century makes quite a change from the books I was used to during my degree, and has shown me some of the challenges of maintaining a collection. Working at the IHR has given me a fantastic insight into the profession as a whole, and has opened my eyes to a range of jobs I had no idea previously existed. The trainee post has allowed me to visit other libraries to get a taste for those outside of the academic sphere which has been really enlightening so far, and career development events have been particularly useful in broadening my expectations of librarianship.
Courtauld Institute of Art Library
I have been interested in pursuing a career in librarianship since taking part in work experience in the Library and Collections of the Royal Academy of Arts when I was at university. I studied History of Art at the University of Warwick and by the time I graduated in 2009, I had researched routes into librarianship and applied for several graduate traineeships. Though I was unsuccessful the first two years I applied for traineeships, I was undeterred. I worked for a year in a customer service role for local government and was able to take some time out to travel. Then - third time's the charm - I was thrilled to be offered the traineeship that most appealed to me, at the Courtauld Institute of Art.
I am thoroughly enjoying my time in the book library of the Courtauld. My colleagues are fantastic and the work that I do interesting and varied. Being a graduate trainee at the Courtauld is great as they provide a lot of training and chances to be involved in the work of every department in the library. My day-to-day duties include accessioning new books, dealing with inter-library loans, checking in new journals and working on the issue and enquiries desk. Courtauld graduate trainees are lucky to be trained in cataloguing and I am excited to put this into practice with a retrospective cataloguing project. I also enjoy the external library visits and training workshops, and the chance to speak to graduate trainees at other libraries.
Though it might not have seemed it at the time, I think it was better for me not go straight into a traineeship from my undergraduate degree. The work and life experiences I had before starting at the Courtauld were invaluable and have helped me in this role. By applying three years in a row it showed, not least myself, how determined I was to pursue librarianship as a career. My time at the Courtauld has only strengthened this conviction and I am currently applying to library schools for next year.
City University Library
Before coming to City I studied Philosophy at the University of St Andrews. I then spent a year working for Kent Libraries and Archives as a Customer Services Assistant as well as doing work experience in other libraries.
My motivation for working in libraries came from a number of reasons; the opportunity to do research, work with information technology, work for organisations aimed at the public good and ultimately my own personal love of libraries. I came to discover that there were many other reasons why I wanted to pursue this career including my introduction to classification of material.
In my traineeship at City University I currently have my time at the main university site split between working in Acquisitions, Inter-Library Loans and on the Service Desk. I will spend the second half of my traineeship at Cass Business School. I have found the job a superb introduction to a career in librarianship. I plan to study for the MA in Information Studies at the University of Brighton full time this September and am looking forward to this next stage of my career. At the moment I am looking to stay in academic libraries.
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