Hello! My name is Izzy and I’m this year’s new Graduate Trainee working at the University of Essex’s Albert Sloman Library. I’ve just come to the end of my first week, and I’ve already had plenty to be getting on with. As well as expected tasks such as shelving and working on the help-desk, I’ve had the chance to set up a book display based around a topic of my choice (languages and linguistics, if you were curious) and assisted in the organisation of a treasure hunt for some visiting school groups. I’ve also had at least 3 tours of the campus, and my lovely new colleagues have been very diligent in making sure that I know where the kitchen and snack drawer is. Colchester campus is absolutely beautiful; I particularly love being able to sit and eat lunch overlooking a lake once painted by John Constable. Right by it, there’s also an old bus that has been turned into a pie shop, which is as endearing as it is unusual. All in all, everything is going well!
As a former English Literature student and continuing Victorian culture fanatic, I’m excited to be working in a library with such a wide-ranging collection of resources, both physical and digital. In fact, last Thursday I had the chance to look around some of the special collections we have here in the library. Essex University has a particularly interesting and extensive collection of old texts, some of which are very rare; a copy of the famous 1563 Book of Martyrs by John Foxe, signed by the author himself, is just one of the documents I’ve had a chance to investigate. I’m particularly looking forward to learning more about these collections and the way in which they are looked after.
Prior to working here, I spent some time as a library assistant in one of the public libraries in my home town of Swansea. This was a job I particularly enjoyed, as it gave me a far greater appreciation and understanding of how valuable library services are to the community. It also helped to remind me of just how diverse and wide-ranging our library services are – the public library in Colchester town centre, for example, has a fantastic range of online resources on just about every topic, as well as a variety of community outreach programs and activities. Indeed, it was while working as a library assistant that I decided to start investigating the possibility of making a career in the library and information sector, with a particular focus on the role of Subject Librarians. I applied to this Graduate Trainee role, then, as it looked like the perfect opportunity to gain the experience I needed. I was excited to learn more about how libraries functioned behind the scenes, and the numerous different roles and jobs involved in keeping everything running. This traineeship gives me a chance to be part of all aspects of library life, from student engagement to cataloguing to special collections. While old texts (particularly Victorian ones!) are a particular interest of mine and part of what made Essex University so appealing to me, I’m also looking forward to expanding my horizons somewhat and seeing what else grabs my attention!
Ultimately, I am hoping to take a postgraduate qualification in Library and Information studies; one week in, it looks like my job here at Essex University is a fantastic place to start working towards that goal.