Xavier's London Library Experience

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We continue our series of blog entries by this year’s intake of new Graduate Trainees with news from Xavier. Here he tells of the delight in re-discovering ‘AWOL books’ and getting to grips with the Library’s one million titles!

During a recent training session in the Acquisitions department, the two other trainees and I were shown a book which had been out on loan for over a hundred years, recently returned by an unknown bearer. Perhaps this book had been stuffed away in an attic somewhere, found hidden behind a beam or in a dusty forgotten box. Could it have been, however, that its time spent ‘AWOL’ was much more exciting? One can only speculate, but maybe the book accompanied several non-paying borrowers during its absence, until it finally reached one honest enough to return it? Anyhow, encounters like these make me feel extremely new to the London Library, so I should probably introduce myself. My name is Xavier and I am one of three Graduate Trainees here at the London Library. If you didn’t know, the London Library employs up to three of us each year. The traineeship is designed to ready us for the Masters degree in ‘Information and Library Management’, whilst giving us an insight and a part to play in the daily running of a library.

The competition for these placements is fierce (who wouldn’t want to work here!?) and so I feel privileged to have been offered a position following interview. The training that the London Library provides us has, thus far, exceeded my expectations and goes beyond the experience I gained from working part-time in my university library. In return for our training (and salary!), we play a crucial role in the daily running of the library by being put to work in various departments, my favourite of which has been the enquiries desk.

I enjoy the preliminary research we carry out for members and have been impressed by the vast array of resources The London Library owns to draw upon for them. What with over a million titles as well as all the digital information we have access to, I have, on occasion, found it difficult to know where to begin. Those who have worked here for a number of years have acquired this kind of instinctual ability to seek out information and always seem to know where to look, even when faced with the most obscure kinds of requests. Some enquiries (particularly those related to foreign languages) are extremely difficult, yet the Enquiries Staff almost always manage to conjure up exactly what it is the member was looking for, as well as suggesting other resources that might be useful.

Despite having been here for nearly two months, I am often faced with questions concerning resources I know little or nothing about. Perhaps by the time I’ve written my second blog post nine weeks from now, I’ll feel much more confident answering questions about the library’s collections. Until then, I’ll continue pestering everyone with questions…

Do look out for Xavier’s next entry and for news from our other Graduate Trainees, as well as other Library departments, in the next few weeks…

The London Library - Issue Hall