Monday, 4 June 2007

Diary of a Librarian

A few of you have been asking about my librarianship, as mentioned perfunctorily over on the left column, and so this post is to give a bit more information, as well as to set a literary challenge. You did so well with the twins one (must produce a list at some point...) that I'm sure you won't disappoint here. Look out for the challenge at the bottom of the page...

So, what am I doing next year? My position has the rather grand title 'Graduate Trainee Library Assistant', and I received one of the Bodleian Traineeships. This means that, unlike the other departmental positions, I shall rotate through three libraries in Oxford next year (image of myself spinning on the spot, holding piles of books...) starting in the Radcliffe Science Library. As an Englicist, as we are forced to label ourselves, to avoid xenophobia ("are you an English student? " always sounds horrifically unPC), the Realms of Science may be a little confusing. But only Our Vicar's Wife and I, in the entire extended family, are non-scientists. We've learnt to adapt to their propensities to wear
grey and talk about calculus.

What does my job entail? That's kind of anyone's gue
ss, at the moment. A little bit of everything that doesn't require expertise, I think - issue desk, cataloguing, mending, enquiries, technological bitsandbobs. All good fun. My personal quest (which probably doesn't appear in the contract I still haven't read) is to inject some colour into the Science Library, mostly through the medium of wool, and the specific form of jumpers.

And after all this... I'll have the necessary year of experience required to get me into Library School. The mystery gets thicker - from what I've seen, these courses contain ominous topics such as 'Transferral Management Skills' and 'Incorporative Information Science'. Going to need to buy a lot more colourful jumpers. But, in my mind, the first lesson will go a little like the sketch today... Perhaps not the first lesson; it's a little advanced.

Onto the challenge. We've done twins in literature. Howsabout Literary Librarians? Where do librarians appear in literature? Body in the Library doesn't count. Off the top of my head... Harry Potter provides stereotypes of every kind; step forward Madam Pince.


  1. Off the top of my head, I believe Adrian Mole worked in a library briefly, and made himself highly unpopular by deliberately stacking the Jane Austens with the Mills & Boons, believing them to be of similar quality.


  3. There's Elspeth Davie's story "The man who wanted to smell books" - though that's rather an oblique look at the subject.
    Oh, and there's the simply dreadful (in my humble opinion) "Shadow of the Wind".

  4. Oh dear, do be careful about which library jobs you dismiss as not requiring expertise - beware the irate cataloguers!

  5. Oh yes! I suppose when I say 'expertise' what I tend to mean is 'computer science degree' - I think every part of librarianship needs wonderful expertise :) And this is, of course, why they selected me... heehee.

  6. What a splendid challenge, so much more interesting than identifying where the survices of surveyors will appear in the national accounts (I can see that you really want to know). I must get onto it right away. Apparently Larkin wrote a novel called A Girl in Winter that tells of a day in the life of a refugee librarian employed in a drab English provincial town. I think I will let you rush out and find a copy of that one!!

  7. I will have to hang out and get recommendations from replies to this post! Well, let me see... There's a librarian character in Audrey Niffenegger's novel 'The Time Traveler's Wife.' And... and... Wow, surely there are more but I'm drawing a blank here. Will think more.

    I do feel rather fortunate working in a library isn't a pre-requisite for library school here, but then again I'd have fulfilled that as I'll have been here at my library two years in September this year.

    Go us!


I've now moved to, and all my old posts are over there too - do come and say hello :)

I probably won't see your comment here, I'm afraid, but all my archive posts can also be found at