THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Living Knowledge blog

3 posts from August 2018

29 August 2018

Meet our apprentices in Boston Spa

IMG_9458_sq_peter_carr_photography

Here is another opportunity for you to hear from the British Library apprentices.  Following on from our previous post, Ruby and Joe share their experiences of working at the Library's Boston Spa site in West Yorkshire.

Although the journey may be drawing to a close for some of our current apprentices; we need to get ready to welcome a new batch of bright, ambitious people joining the programme for the next year.

If you feel inspired by the feedback given from our apprentices, don’t forget the applications are still open – you’ve got until 31 August to apply, don’t miss out on the chance to be in a role you love.

IMG_9350_sq_peter_carr_photographyAll photos by Pete Carr.

Ruby Garlick

Digitisation Team

Boston Spa, West Yorkshire 

Tell us a bit about what you were doing before applying for the apprenticeship?

I studied drama at 6th form college and discovered that it wasn’t what I really wanted to do. I did feel a lot of pressure to go to university as all of my friends were talking about going. I was researching the different career routes and options available to me, and trying to discover what would be the best next step to take in terms of my career and what interests me.

How did you find out about British Library apprenticeships, and what motivated you to apply?

I found the apprenticeship advert whilst looking on the gov.uk website. I have always loved books and had wanted to visit the British Library down in London, so it instantly caught my eye. When I noticed the placement was only a few miles from my house I was amazed because I had never heard of, or seen, the Boston Spa site before. Straight away I began researching the Library and knew shortly thereafter that I had to apply because of how great of an opportunity it would be.

What is a highlight of your time working at the British Library?

Working for such a recognised organisation, and seeing all the different departments that play a part in the overall succession of the nation’s library from an inside perspective has been a valuable experience for me. The highlight of the apprenticeship for me has been being able to handle all of the rare and magnificent collection items, I never thought I would have access to such delicate and old manuscripts. I made a really good friend here too, who is also an apprentices, we spend a lot of time together which is nice.

What kind of challenges have you come across since starting the role?

Working with the digitisation equipment was a challenge. I hadn’t any experience with any machinery like it prior to starting my apprenticeship; understanding the software used and getting my head around the equipment took practice.

What’s next for you once you’ve completed the apprenticeship?

I am hoping to carry on to the next level course in business administration and continue with a career at the Library.

What tips would you give anyone thinking about applying for an apprenticeship?

Research the Library and get to know a bit about it before applying; this will help you in both your application and interview.

IMG_9437_peter_carr_photographyAll photos by Pete Carr.

Joe White

Technology

Boston Spa, West Yorkshire 

Tell us a bit about what you were doing before applying for the apprenticeship?

Before starting at the Library I was a supervisor for Speedo, the swimming company. I was originally planning to go to university and when I found out about this apprenticeship, I jumped at the chance. I had no huge pressure to go to university, some of my friends went but my closest friends chose not to.

What has it been like working at the Library?

My team is interesting and everyone is very nice, it’s great to work closely with other apprentices from different departments. I like working in an open plan office; it’s quite nice as everyone works together.

What is a highlight of your time working at the British Library?

My highlight has been building a survey from scratch, it’s been quite interesting and allowed me the chance to work with Jason and Ewan who are also apprentices in the team.

What’s next for you once you’ve completed the apprenticeship?

I would be interested in staying on at the Library to do a level 3 Apprenticeship in I.T.

What tips would you give anyone thinking about applying for an apprenticeship?

My tip would be to apply for everything you can to give yourself the best chances and the Library is a great place to work as you get lots of benefits such as flexible working hours. There is a social club which is very good as you can meet people from all over the Library.

Content and Community Team

 

24 August 2018

Meet our apprentices

The British Library’s apprenticeship scheme, which started in 2017, gives us the chance to help grow our business processes and shape how we interact with our users in the future, whilst also providing career enhancing opportunities to others.

Whether you’ve just left school or looking for a career change, we have something for you. There are numerous opportunities across our sites in St Pancras, London and Boston Spa, West Yorkshire with at least 30 hours paid work a week, plenty of training and study opportunities and the chance to learn from our experienced staff.

As our first intake of apprentices near their graduation, we caught up with them to find out what the journey has been like for them. Hear how each and every one of them has grown, not only their skills and knowledge, but their confidence too; it is amazing to see how far they have come as they’ve picked up new techniques and information through their experience working at the Library. Now, over to the apprentices…

Sophie
Learning Team, Adult Courses Programme
St Pancras, London

Sophie

How did you find out about British Library apprenticeships, and what motivated you to apply?

I was actually on the British Library website buying a ticket for the Harry Potter exhibition when I spotted the ‘jobs’ section I saw the listing for the apprenticeships and immediately jumped at the chance! The description had exactly the combination of work-based learning that I thought would most suit me. I decided I really wanted to go for the Adult Learning apprenticeship as I was interested in their adult courses – they’re incredibly varied but each one is linked to the Library, helping to create another level of engagement with the Library’s collections. The role also included elements of events and project management as well as customer service, making it possible for me to learn a whole range of new skills.

What has been a highlight of your time working at the British Library?

For me, it was working on the course programme during the Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibition. Seeing how the course tutors used the exhibition and the amazing manuscripts and other artefacts on display to help engage and inspire the attendees was brilliant, and I got to see the exhibition several times which was definitely a perk.

Sophie with her manager Katy who oversees the Library's Adult Learning programmeSophie with her manager Katy who oversees the Library's Adult Learning programme

What’s next for you once you’ve completed the apprenticeship?

I’ve just started a full-time, permanent job within the Library as the Business Support Officer for the Culture and Learning and Higher Education departments, so I’ll be continuing in that role. I would never have been able to apply for the post without the experience and knowledge the apprenticeship has given me.

Sheila 
Visitor Experience Team
St Pancras, London

Sheila

Tell us a bit about what you were doing before applying for the apprenticeship?

For almost 20 years, I was working as a College and University Library Assistant, in my home town. Before studying for my undergraduate degree, I had qualified as an NNEB Nursery Nurse.

What has it been like working at the Library?

For me, the experience has been very positive and life affirming. There has always been at least one person in every department, that has gone above and beyond their duty in supporting and helping me to achieve the skills I needed, to accomplish my various tasks. I’ve learnt how the different departments work with each other and how the organisation works as a whole. This is a privilege that many permanent staff have not had.

What kind of challenges have you come across since starting the role?

Having to master new procedures and processes all the time, means that I have had to hit the ground running and integrate into teams very quickly. Sometimes, I feel as if I am completely out of my comfort zone, until it all suddenly clicks into place and then that is very satisfying for me. Not only are there new teams to negotiate, but new technological systems to learn at an accelerated rate. Also, there are many diverse types of customers to service, with very different needs and expectations.

Sheila helping a visitor at the Information DeskSheila helping a visitor at the Information Desk

What’s next for you once you’ve completed the apprenticeship?

I am hoping to continue to work in the Heritage, Culture and Education fields within my home town again. Plans for a new Archive and Heritage Centre have been approved for the near future and I am already involved with fund raising activities for that project.

Content and Community Team

 

17 August 2018

The Library is open – celebrating a summer of Pride at the British Library

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This summer, the Library was proud to again participate in its local Pride festivals in York, London and Leeds. Doing so enables us to engage new audiences with the Library’s extraordinary collections, to promote the Library as an inclusive employer, and to support our local communities.

What did we get up to this year?

A big focus this year was to signpost our LGBTQ Histories webspace, which was established as a legacy of the Library’s hugely successful Gay UK: Love, Law, Liberty exhibition in 2017. This web resource introduces some of the Library’s incredible collections of LGBTQ stories and identities.

IMG_9268-YORKAbove: British Library staff taking part in the Leeds Pride parade (left to right): Katie Betts, Caylin Smith, Giuliano Levato, Stavroula Angoura, Caan Walls and Simon Whibley. Top: Pride flags with Leeds Civic Hall and Leeds Town Hall in the background.

The British Library is home to the national collection of published, written, audio and digital content, and has a duty to collect a copy of everything published in the UK. It’s a collection of extraordinary diversity and richness, bursting with heritage and stories of every kind.

From remarkable literary treasures such as Oscar Wilde manuscripts to civil rights campaign materials and specially commissioned oral history accounts, the LGBTQ Histories website begins to open up this extraordinary national collection in a new way. IMG_8817

So this year we distributed our colourful new rainbow bookmarks which proved very popular – both at the Pride festivals themselves and in our Reading Rooms. These handy markers included a link to the LGBTQ Histories webspace.

Marching with the LGBTQ community

In addition to promoting the Library’s remarkable LGBTQ collection items, Pride also offers a great opportunity to engage thousands of people to raise awareness of every aspect of the Library. York and Leeds Prides were bigger than ever before, with a combined audience of around 60,000 people from the region around our Boston Spa site. London Pride remains one of the largest marches in the world, with over 1 million people turning out to celebrate in the capital. These are brilliant opportunities for the Library, as a symbol of inclusivity and enlightenment, to assert that its services are genuinely ‘for everyone’ and to be proud of its own LGBTQ employees. In a similar vein, the Library flies the rainbow Pride flag at both our sites in St Pancras and Boston Spa.

IMG_9345-leedsLibrary colleagues at the Leeds Pride parade (left to right): Simon Whibley, Stavroula Angoura, Giuliano Levato, Caan Walls and Caylin Smith.

Employees from the British Library marched in each festival, and at York and Leeds also ran market stalls to promote everything the Library has to offer, both as a cultural resource open to all, and as a significant regional employer.

Having represented the Library at six Pride events over the last two years, my personal experience is an overwhelmingly positive one. The reception we get from people is incredibly inspiring; both from people who are familiar with us and those who know nothing at all. People are proud to see this national institution turning up for them – and so am I.

Rob Field

Head of Public Policy