Meet the Warburg: Kella Lawrinson, Graduate Library Trainee
In this blog series, we introduce you to the people who bring the Warburg to life. From library staff to tutors, find out more about the people working at the Warburg Institute.
In this interview, we chatted with Graduate Library Trainee, Kella Lawrinson. Read on to discover how Kella's career led her to the Warburg, what to expect from the traineeship, and more:
What drew you to apply for the role of Graduate Library Trainee?
I was applying for a range of Graduate Library trainee positions, knowing that working in a library was something I wanted to experience.
I was drawn to the Warburg because of the open shelves concept. I had previously jumped through hoops to get the opportunity to work with and experience rare books, the idea that these would be available on open shelves, sat among very recently published books, is something that excited me. Moreover, I applied to this position whilst I was working on my MLitt in Book History. When I explored the catalogue, the 'Word' floor of the library jumped out at me, appearing full of books that I wanted to read (with a couple, but not many, that I already had read).
When it came to choosing between positions, I accepted the Warburg partially for these reasons, but also because at my interview the staff had been kind and friendly. It was a team that I was really interested in joining!
What is a typical day for you as a Graduate Library Trainee?
As a graduate trainee, I dabble in a range of library tasks, so days often vary across the week. On a typical day I will spend several hours working at the reading room desk. This involves setting up library membership, introducing new readers to the library and responding to enquiries. On quieter days this can be done while also fulfilling inter-library loans, checking in periodicals or working on any other ongoing projects. Lately, this has been finding online editions of books to expand the digital reading room. When not at the desk, I will catch up on these projects, order and catalogue books and create posts on the library’s social media channels.
What fascinating books have you uncovered whilst working in the library?
When looking for a book to post on Twitter, I discovered Histoire prodigieuse et lamentable de Jean Fauste, grand magicien : avec son testament et sa vie epouventable. Based on German folklore, this history teaches of an academic who became so obsessed with his work that he turned to necromancy. This was interesting not just in the printing (although I enjoyed the appearance of the title page woodcut and/or engraving), but in the longevity of the story, passed through time and place, translated into multiple languages and finally reaching me, by accident, at the Warburg.
What has been your favourite part of the traineeship so far?
This is a difficult question to answer, as I have had several favourite parts so far. With regards to my job, my favourite part has been learning about librarianship. From the tasks I have been working on and chatting with colleagues about what their job entails, the traineeship has confirmed that I want to continue working in libraries. If I had to be specific, beginning cataloging has been fascinating, and I can’t wait to keep learning.
Have there been any particular challenges?
So far, the main challenge has been adapting to working full time as well as being a student and being new to London. Getting the right balance can be tricky, but everyone at the Warburg has been very understanding, and enjoying my job makes that part of the equation much easier.
What advice would you give to someone who was thinking of applying for the Graduate Library Traineeship?
If you have an interest in any area of the Warburg, apply! I had limited experience with Art History, the largest and most popular section of the library, but was very interested in the History of the Book, so was able to talk about my passion for that area of the collection. The Warburg collects in a wide variety of fields, due to the interdisciplinary nature of the institute. Check out the catalogue and the floor plans and see what you can find.
Do you have any future plans for after your traineeship?
This September, I began my MSc in Library and Information Science, part time at Ulster University. I will continue to work on this until at least 2025. I will also need to find another job, hoping to continue working in the library and information sector in London.
I’m Kella, one of two Graduate Trainees at the Warburg Library. Before the Warburg, I got my MA in Modern History and MLitt in Book History, both from the University of St Andrews. I previously worked in Employee Relations for a national care charity.
As well as being the Graduate Trainee, I am currently working on my MSc in Library and Information Science from Ulster University and am the Social Media Officer for the Library and Information History Group of CILIP. Outside of libraries, I am a big Doctor Who and reality TV fan (The Traitors has become a fast favourite) and enjoy a long walk or cinema trip.