A day in Magdalene Libraries: Part 2

To conclude our ‘behind the scenes’ series of blog posts for National Libraries Day, Sophie Connor writes about her role working in the Pepys Library at Magdalene.

Sophie Connor, Libraries Assistant and Invigilator

‘I work part-time in the afternoons and divide my time equally between the College Library and the Pepys Library supporting the Deputy Librarians with the day-to-day running of Magdalene College Libraries.


Pepys Library and Special Collections

What I enjoy most about my job at Magdalene is having the incredible opportunity to work in the world-renowned Pepys Library. Samuel Pepys was a remarkable man of his time and his legacy continues today reflected in the unique collection of 3,000 books and manuscripts that he bequeathed to Magdalene College.

In my role as Libraries Assistant I help to prepare the Pepys Library for the public opening hours in the afternoon and I invigilate the Pepys Library during this time, ensuring the preservation and security of the collection. I also supervise specialist readers consulting Pepys Library books or special collections material from either Magdalene College Old Library or the College Library archives. I assist researchers with any bibliographical enquiries they may have, searching catalogues and electronic resources to aid them with their research.

During the public opening I will help to show visitors the Library and answer any questions that they may have about Samuel Pepys, his Library, Magdalene College or Cambridge in general. It is wonderful to see how delighted people are when they discover that we have one of Pepys’ original shorthand diaries out on display and the level of dedication Pepys receives with people travelling from places as far away as Australia and Japan especially to come and visit the Library. I often get asked unusual questions that I am keen to try and answer and I really enjoy reading about Samuel Pepys and expanding my knowledge.

My other duties as Libraries Assistant include assisting the Pepys Librarian, Dr. Jane Hughes and the College archivist Dr. Ronald Hyam with special exhibitions, which are displayed in the Old Library each term to promote the College’s historic and archival material. These exhibitions are open to alumni and members of the College and I also invigilate the Old Library during this time. Furthermore I also assist with outreach school events and special openings of the Pepys Library.

Old Library

Magdalene College Old Library

As Libraries Assistant at Magdalene I am also responsible for monitoring the correct environmental conditions for the storage of collections in the Old Library and the Pepys Library. I record figures from data loggers and empty dehumidifiers in the Old Library. I have had several training session with our conservator Jill Flintham in basic cleaning and book repair concerning the care of books in both the Old Library and the Pepys Library. Since this time I have undertaken a regular schedule for cleaning books in the Old Library.

In the Pepys Library I also undertake various projects to support the Deputy Librarian. These include helping to catalogue books from the Old Library collection, listing archival material and checking downloaded ESTC (English Short Title Catalogue) data against the Pepys Library printed catalogue. I am also currently helping with the Quinquennial stock check in the Pepys Library and assisting with various digitisation projects.

I am incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to work in all three Libraries here at Magdalene College and I hope that you have enjoyed reading this series of ‘behind the scenes’ blog posts. Happy National Libraries Day!’

Pepys Bookplate

Pepys’ bookplate

Samuel Pepys included two bookplates in each volume that he owned, one pasted at the start of the book and one at the end. The bookplate above was pasted at the end of all his books and displays a nautical theme with anchors and ropes.

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