Hello all, and welcome to post 2!
I was planning to start with an account of one of the very exciting things I was able to go to as part of my traineeship, but that seemed a little long when combined with a general introduction to my job. So, in order to avoid writing you an essay of mammoth proportions it is ‘general introduction’ this post, and ‘very exciting trip details’ in a future post. (I shall tease it only by saying that there were the most divine canapes I have ever eaten – admittedly also the only canapes I have ever eaten, but that in no way negates their divinity!)
So, what am I doing in London? Well, my official title is Winnington-Ingram Trainee at the Institute of Classical Studies/Joint Societies Library, which sounds very grand, but in essence I am spending a year working in a library to find out what it’s like. The aim of the traineeship (and others like it) is to prepare people to do a Librarianship/Information Studies MA, and thus become a fully-accredited librarian, so that is what I am working towards. Incidentally, if anyone is interested in pursuing this path, or knows someone else who is, then do feel free to get in touch with me, and I’d be very happy to go into more detail about applications etc. (My e-mail is on the new Contact Me page)
In short: I am loving every minute of it. As you’ve no doubt guessed from its name, the ICS library is full of books about Classics (huzzah!), which means I spend my days surrounded by knowledge that fascinates me. My days consist of a whole variety of jobs: shelving (an excellent workout considering some of the books are very heavy and some of the shelves are very high!); issuing and returning books at the desk; repairing damaged books (e.g. if their spines have come off or pages have fallen loose); processing new books (sticking in bookplates/date labels, stamping it on the right pages, writing the classmarks on the spine); scanning articles for readers; posting books all over the world; managing the library social media; and lots more! Time is also set aside for me to go on visits with the other London research library trainees, so that we can see how different sorts of libraries work, and start thinking about where we might want to go after our course is finished.
Quite apart from all that, it’s just lovely to talk with the students/academics and find out what they’re interested in and what they’re writing their theses on. Where else could I make a joke about the Eleusinian Mysteries and not only have someone understand it, but also laugh appreciatively? The team I work with is absolutely wonderful too – they’ve been so keen to get me ‘out and about’ doing things, and already leant me lots of books and DVDs to enjoy. Another great perk of the job is that we get lots of booklets with all the details for upcoming events, so I have easy access to all the information about anything I might like to go to. So far I’ve gone to a museum gallery opening (this being the Very Exciting Trip), a book launch, a medieval mystery play, a publishing event, a Historic Libraries conference, and a seminar about Classics and ecology – either because library staff were invited, or I saw it in a booklet, or a colleague brought it to my attention. That is an incredible number, and variety, of things that I just wouldn’t have done if I wasn’t in my current job, and I feel immensely privileged to have all these opportunities.
So that is what my working week looks like at the moment. It is not me sitting behind a desk with my hair scraped back, dourly typing information onto a computer and glaring at anyone who so much as coughs. Nor is it me huddling in a poorly-lit backroom struggling to process an endless pile of books. It is a wonderfully varied and exciting job, and I wish more than anything that it didn’t have to end in August. I’m not sure exactly which Classical deity one sacrifices to for job opportunities, but since I don’t wish for any misfortune to befall any of my colleagues perhaps that is for the best!
One final thing to say is that, thanks to the technical knowledge of greater beings, I have now managed to put in a subscription box. So if you would like to be notified when I publish a new post then please do sign up! Hopefully all will go smoothly, but if there are any problems do let me know and I shall do my best to sort things out.