Day in the Life of an Apprentice - Bodleian Library Apprentice Library Assistant

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Name: Frances Murray

Age: 19

Job Role: Apprentice Library Assistant

Department: Bodleian Library Collections and Resource Description

How long you have been an apprentice: Since early December 2015.

What is the first thing you do when you get into work in the morning? We pack up books from our backlog into boxes to be sent off to the Book Storage Facility in Swindon twice a day, so the first thing I do each day is take the boxes from the previous day to the drop off point, wheel back some empty ones and pack them so they’re ready for the afternoon pick up.

Where do you spend most of your day? As I’m learning more about cataloguing my day is becoming more desk-based, but I still get to spend a lot of time in the book stacks which is my favourite place in the world.

What keeps you motivated at work? As a legal deposit library, we have a claim on every item published in the UK and Ireland. This means that when I’m working through something particularly boring, I can look forward to whatever weird and wonderful book is likely to show up next (my favourite was one about mind controlling wasps).

Tea? or Coffee? I would be disowned by my home county of Yorkshire if I didn’t say tea.

Favourite job? Least favourite job? My favourite job is anything that takes me into the book stacks, so manual tasks like packing boxes and locating books on the shelves are great. My least favourite would be working through a report we receive every week to find errors in a book’s records, which involves going through records and changing the same thing in each one. It’s incredibly dull and repetitive, and as soon as you think you’ve finished them all another one appears.

What qualification are you working towards and when do you hope to achieve it? I’m working towards a BIIAB Level 3 Diploma in Library, Archives and Information Services, which I’m due to finish in December.

How has studying with your college provider helped you at work? My qualification focuses my individual role in the library as a whole unit, so it means I’m much more aware of the importance of the tasks I do, and I’m constantly asking questions and learning more.

What has been the biggest surprise of your apprenticeship? Contrary to popular belief, not all librarians are scary old ladies with grey hair and ugly cardigans. They do all have an unhealthy obsession with cats, however.

Sum up your job in 3 words. So. Many. Books.


Where do you see yourself in 5 years? I’d love to continue working in a library in some way, whether it’s the Bodleian or elsewhere. Working with books every day is a dream come true, and, as frustrating as readers can be sometimes(!), knowing that you’ve helped someone find what they need is a wonderful feeling.

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Created by Sophie Bebb, University of Oxford Apprentice at the Said Business School.

Managed by Frances Murray, Apprentice Librarian Assistant at the Bodleian Libraries, and Megan Janes, Apprenticeship Administration and Communications Apprentice.