Middle School

30 May 2024

Activities Week – World of Work Day 2024

Sophia (9L)

On World of Work Day, I visited the Bodleian Library to research and learn  about career opportunities within the prominent institution.

Situated in the centre of the bustling city, Oxford’s libraries are among the most celebrated in the world, not only for their incomparable collections of books and manuscripts, but also for their buildings, some of which in use since the Middle Ages. With evidence dating back to 1096, Oxford is the oldest university in the English-speaking world and is considered one of the top ones.

Some early history of the Bodleian Library included when in 1550, all of the library’s books were taken away as part of a purge of all traces of Catholicism during the English reformation. Sir Thomas Bodley rescued and refurbished it in 1598 and made provisional changes for the library’s future. The library then reopened in November 1602. In 1900, approximately 100 people a day used the library, and in 1914 the library contained over one million books – which seems little compared to the twelve million held in it today. Scenes from some famous movies have been filmed in the Divinity School, such as the infirmary scene in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, and historical dramas such as the Inspector Morse series.

The Bodleian Library offers a multitude of compelling job opportunities and roles that lead a variety of career paths. Being a part of the world class institution, staff will world with colleagues across a range of professions and with a variety of expertise ranging from digital archivists to specialist librarians. Offices are located in central Oxford and in Osney Mead Industrial Estate, as well as at the book storage facility in Swindon. Some examples of current job vacancies include library assistant as a map cataloguer; senior library assistant; photography curator; a Japanese studies librarian; and head of collections operations transformation.

One of these job vacancies that appears fascinating is the senior library assistant. The role entails being an enthusiastic, customer service focused assistant to work at the Vere Harmsworth Library in the Rothermere American Institute, assisting readers in their use of the library. The library houses the university’s principal research collection relating the US’ history, the largest such academic library collection in the UK. The job includes having responsibility of the library services and playing a key role in providing a range of reader services and administrative support for reading list provision. In addition, you would contribute to the processes and procedures of the Vere Harsmworth Library and help train and support colleagues in the provision of library services. This role requires lifting and carrying boxes of library materials, pushing trolleys, climbing ladders and kick-stools to be able to access bookshelves and to re-shelf materials.

Another career opportunity advertised that draws interest is The Bern and Ronny Schwartz Curator of photography.  The Bodleian libraries are recruiting for this post, generously endowed by the Bern Schwartz family foundation. The role includes increasing the impact of photographic holdings by carrying out the full range of work in relation to their photographic archives, such as providing reference services in relation to the collections, developing the collections, appraising and cataloguing photographic archives, and contributing to public engagement activities. You can expect to work with incredible collections, documenting photography from its earlier days through to contemporary photography.

The Bodleian Library also offer a graduate training scheme, which aims to develop future library professionals, and is also the largest library training scheme in the UK. It gives graduates the opportunity to gain experience in one of the Bodleian libraries or Oxford university. Graduates leave Oxford with a solid grounding in library and information work and an excellent food ration for their future careers.

In conclusion, I think there are many positives about working in a job for the Bodleian Library. First of all, the variety of careers range from many different subjects and university degrees. For example, the map curator could stem from geography, and the photography curator from art. I think in such a prestigious place would be enjoyable, as it full of culture, literature and history. I also would prefer to work and live in a city, and Oxford is rich in many factors. As I like humanities and English at school, I think a role at the Bodleian would fit my interests. Furthermore, they offer brilliant benefits such as a large number of holidays compared to other jobs, and flexibility in working hours. I also think I would fit the requirements and skills of communication and organisation. However, there are also elements of these jobs that do not appeal to me. Just like most people, I want a job that offers a high salary, so unless I would ‘climb up the ladder’ to attain a senior role, these career options don’t appeal. I also don’t like the fact that at some times you would have to work on your own and independently, as I am a very people-orientated person, and potentially I would prefer to work in a larger team in a bigger organisation. As much as the jobs offer working is such a stunning location, it does not require travel, which is a large priority of mine. Despite these negatives, I think that working at the Bodleian library would be a great stepping stone for other jobs I would want to do in the future and would be an interesting job I would gain a lot of experience and skills from.

Overall, I really enjoyed learning all about the possible careers as I wasn’t aware of how many professions are within an institution like this, and it’s wonderful to see the uniqueness of workplaces like this as they are so set apart from the regular jobs that come to mind.

Sophia (9L)

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