Bodleian Libraries Graduate Training Scheme

The Bodleian Libraries Graduate Trainee Scheme aims to develop future library professionals and is the largest library training scheme in the UK.

The scheme gives recent graduates the opportunity to spend a year gaining experience in one of the Bodleian Libraries or one of Oxford’s college libraries. 

The aim of the programme is:

  • To train and develop future library and information professionals. 
  • To provide trainees with the necessary experience required to undertake a postgraduate qualification in library/information studies.
  • To encourage new staff into the organisation who have a fresh perspective.

Each library provides its trainee with experience in a range of library tasks, including frontline services, book processing, shelving and general administration.

The programme offers trainees a unique professional experience as well as being part of a close-knit supportive trainee network. Graduates of the programme leave Oxford with a solid grounding in library and information work and an excellent foundation for their future careers.

The Oxford programme meets the standards set by the Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL) code of practice. This outlines best practice for trainee programmes in academic libraries and advises that schemes 'give graduates systematically planned and supervised experience of library work, prior to possible attendance at departments of information and library studies.'

Frequently asked questions about the scheme


You will be working in one of our Bodleian or college libraries and will stay within that library for the whole year.

We have posts available in a range of libraries including the Bodleian Library, the Radcliffe Camera, the English Faculty Library, the Social Science Library, the Law Library, the Art, Archaeology and Ancient World Library, the Taylor Institution Library, and the Sainsbury Library. College libraries involved in the scheme include New College, St John's College, All Souls College, Jesus College and Christ Church College. The libraries and colleges that have a trainee can vary each year, and those listed here are not necessarily a comprehensive list.


Your day-to-day tasks will vary depending on which library you work in.

In general, all trainees will gain experience of a range of library tasks, including frontline services, book processing, shelving and general administration.

You will work with readers and carry out circulation activities such as: issuing, returning and renewing books, helping readers with a range of enquiries and shelving. Trainees/you may also be involved in book processing and updating holdings on the catalogue. You may also check reading lists and search for missing books or assist with tours of your library and help update your library's social media presence.

You will also attend formal training and information sessions specifically designed for the programme, and be encouraged to undertake a project during your year with us.

You can find out more information, including perspectives of past trainees, on our blog.


In addition to the skills learnt through working in our libraries, trainees are provided with formal training in sessions led by the Bodleian Libraries Staff Development team.

During your first term, (Michaelmas term: October – December), you will attend sessions that develop the skills you need for your role. Sessions cover:

  • training on OLIS, our Library Management System;
  • e-journals and databases;
  • customer care training;
  • becoming a library and information professional (including postgraduate study).

In the following two terms, Hilary (January – March) and Trinity (May – July), training sessions cover a range of library activities, such as:

  • social media; 
  • assessment; 
  • special collections and conservation;
  • collections management and the subject consultant's role; 
  • transferable skills: presentation skills and careers and job application skills. 

The programme also includes visits to other Bodleian Libraries sites including the archives and Book Storage Facility. Your supervisor may also highlight other training for you to attend.


You will be encouraged to undertake a project during your time at the Bodleian Libraries. Previous trainees have worked on a variety of projects such as: cataloguing or reclassifying collections; creating displays; improving communication via social media or measuring whether shelf height affects book circulation.


A career in library and information studies could see you working in a range of libraries including medical, legal, charity, public or prison libraries. You could become specialised in a particular area, such as a subject specialist or cataloguer or have a more general role in reader services, for example, or become a deputy librarian or library services manager.

Graduates of the trainee programme move on to a variety of paths. Each year several of the trainees stay within the Bodleian Libraries. Others move on to library roles elsewhere, such as the Treasury, the BBC, the Royal College of Surgeons or the British Film Institute. A few graduates have moved into a different career path, in areas such as communications, human resources or administration.

Some trainees head to postgraduate study, with many gaining a Masters in Librarianship. Trainees are encouraged to consider applying for a postgraduate qualification in library and information studies (accredited by CILIP, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals. A session covers this including finance options available.


Trainee posts are suitable for those who already have an undergraduate degree and are interested in gaining a year's experience in one of our libraries to prepare themselves for possibly undertaking a postgraduate degree in librarianship or information and library studies.

Applicants need to have an undergraduate degree as a minimum, although previous trainees have been qualified to doctorate level.

A bit of time working in a library, such as a volunteering role or a summer job at your university library is useful experience to draw on when applying. However, if you have had several years though in a library role, you may want to consider whether this is already enough experience to enable you to enrol for a Masters degree.

This trainee post is not suitable if you already have a degree in librarianship or similar.


Trainee posts are advertised in November of each year on the Oxford University website and on the CILIP Website.

Applications are due at end of January with shortlisting in February and interviews held in March.