Living Knowledge blog

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…

Learning Team, Adult Courses Programme
St Pancras, London


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.

Visitor Experience Team
St Pancras, London


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