Today marks the end of the first week that I have not been the trainee at the Hellenic and Roman/ICS Library (Molly Richards has now taken over that role) so it felt an apt time to post a reflection on my year there, and try to get myself back into the swing of blogging after such a long hiatus.
In short, it has been the best year of my life. (sorry, Cambridge, you were also supremely wonderful, but you have been pipped to the post!) I very much hope Molly gets as much out of her traineeship as I did. I have learnt so many new skills (how to write blogs for one!), gained so much courage (turns out I can have perfectly lovely and coherent conversations with people I don’t know – who’d have thought it?), and had the privilege of working with the nicest group of human beings ever congregated in one place. My other blog-posts are only a flavour of the many wonderful libraries I have visited, and the vast range of events and experiences that have been opened to me as a result of the traineeship.
Truly, if you need books about Classics for any reason (doesn’t have to be academic – it could be research for a novel, or just your own personal interest!) and you’re not a member of this library, then I cannot recommend joining highly enough. The staff really go above and beyond for their readers, doing countless little tasks that add up to hours of unpaid work, and will do all they can to make you at home in the library. If London isn’t easily accessible, they can scan chapters/articles for you, or post out books to your house! Membership details can be found here if anyone is interested (though maybe wait a few weeks, because by then the lobby should be renovated and everything will be much calmer!)
And if you’re a recent graduate (or will be by the end of this coming academic year) who is interested in Classics and thinks a career in librarianship might be for them, then you really couldn’t get a better start than to try for this traineeship when it opens for applications. I only had about three months library work-experience when I applied, and thought I had no chance of getting the post, but if I’d listened to that fear I’d have missed out on so much. This library is a real hub of Classics enthusiasm and scholarship, and you will find yourself getting all sorts of opportunities you never expected (which will be the subject of my next blog-post)
This year really hasn’t felt like work, and I’m hard-pressed to choose a ‘favourite’ part, but I think it would have to be that excited swoop in the stomach that I’d get every day walking through the library. The tingling of being surrounded by so much knowledge, of having it all at my fingertips if I needed it, of the possibilities humming inside each book. It is my earnest hope that my librarianship MA will give me the tools to keep making books and their knowledge accessible to anyone who wants them, and to give people the little nudge in the right direction that means they find their lifelong research passion.
Huge thanks are due on my part, not only to the incomparable library team, but also to the many wonderful academics/researchers I have met and chatted too, and (at times) been very star-struck by! You all make what we do worthwhile by being so friendly and supportive, and not being worried to ask us questions. I also want to thank the ICS Digital Humanities team for being so welcoming (even though I never managed to make it to a pub trip – hopefully I will this year!), and I hope they’ll keep me informed of any further adventures with the 3-D printer.
Especial thanks must go to everyone (staff or reader) who contributed to my leaving presents. I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things I received (photographic evidence below!) and felt like I received a truly royal send-off.
Except…it wasn’t really a send-off, because if you happen to be in the library on Wednesday evenings, or assorted Saturdays, you will still find me pottering around doing the shelving and so forth, because the library have kindly decided not to push me out of the nest just yet, and let me stay on as a casual assistant *celebratory dancing* I’ll also be working two days a week for the Hellenic Society on the floor below (for which I had my first training day yesterday) which is equally exciting, so wish me luck as I embark upon a very full year!