Techie award for Monmouthshire libraries

Logo for Carnegie Library LabThe Carnegie UK Trust have just announced their first round of Library Lab funding recipients, and Claire Lewis from Monmouthshire Libraries has won one of the places for her ‘ideas garage’ proposed project.

Claire is planning to create a community-led coding space in Chepstow Library (I think! This was refurbished with Welsh Government and Monmouthshire funding) which will be for people who want to gain and share skills and experience of coding, help them create and develop websites and games, and to increase their employability.

Claire was one of seven winners in this first round of Library Lab partners. You can see the full list on the Carnegie UK Trust news page.

When this coding club is established it will join the coding club run by Carmarthenshire Libraries with a local school, and Neath Port Talbot libraries’ Technoclubs which won another Carnegie UK Trust grant and which were also featured in the Guardian article Four of the UK’s most innovative libraries.

If there are other libraries in Wales doing similar techie things, let me know! It’s handy to know what’s going on around Wales. For example, anyone got a 3D printer yet?


Posted in Awards, Digital things, Grants, Libraries, Public libraries, Technology, UK | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Digital inclusion briefing

Cat sleeping on computer keyboard

Learning how to use a keyboard is hard work for a cat. Image copyright free from Wikimedia Commons.

Many of those working in libraries will have been doing things that fall within ‘digital inclusion’ for some years, decades even. However, mainstream awareness of the importance of digital inclusion to society is now catching up with libraries, and there’s lots of new initiatives (e.g. the UK Government’s digital inclusion charter, Go OnDigital Inclusion in Wales, Communities 2.0 in Wales) and talk about what it is (my view: ensuring people have access to digitial equipment and that they have the skills to use it) in non-library circles (e.g. Age UK and the National Housing Federation).

A new briefing from CILIP on digital inclusion brings together some key headline figures about digital exclusion such as the fact that 11 million people in the UK are offline and are considered to have no digital skills, and of whom, 60% have no qualifications. Alongside the facts the briefing outlines how libraries and library staff contribute towards improving digital inclusion. If you’re looking for a handy summary on digital inclusion, digital literacy and library skills this briefing fits the bill.

If you want a more detailed report, the Society of Chief Librarians Wales produced ‘Addressing the Digital Divide’ which gives detailed examples of how public libraries are helping tackle digital exclusion, with lots of quotes by users and case studies.

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The daily lives of librarians

Engraving of a painting of a librarian from 16th century

Not a typical librarian. Image copyright free from Wikimedia Commons

The daily life of a librarian can be very varied. (And for ‘librarian’ I mean all staff who work in libraries, not just those who have library qualifications.) And not only that, but librarians working in different types of libraries can have hugely varied roles. We know from research that customers/users of libraries greatly value the library staff and they can transform the experience of those using libraries.

I have therefore been enjoying finding out more about these wonderful people [or is that just because I'm nosy?] through the blogs 23 Librarians (in Scotland) and now its new sister blog 23 Llyfrgellydd (in Wales). Scotland started it all off last year, and is now going for round two! There are also now similar blogs for England and Northern Ireland.

In Wales the lives of the 23 librarians are being posted generally on a Friday – there’s four there already (maybe more by the time you read this) and they discuss what they do, how they got to where they are, the type of skills needed etc.

Just reading the Welsh ones shows what an enthusiastic bunch of people work in libraries. If you’re a librarian working in Wales and fancy writing your daily life, contact Kristine Chapman to see if she has any slots left in the list of 23!

Posted in Academic libraries, Careers, England, Health libraries, Libraries, Northern Ireland, Public libraries, School libraries, Scotland, Wales, Workforce development | Leave a comment

Libraries: “vital role” in Wales says review

Members of the panel with the deputy minister

Members of the panel presenting the deputy minister with their review. From left: Prof. Hywel Roberts, library adviser; Clare Creaser, Loughborough University and Chair of the Expert Panel; Peter Gomer, Welsh Local Government Association representative; Ken Skates AM, Deputy Minister for Culture and Sport; Steve Davies, Cardiff University.

“Public libraries will continue to play a vital role in the ongoing delivery of local and national priorities such as social inclusion, lifelong learning, literacy, digital inclusion, health and wellbeing and community cohesion.” (Paragraph 198) 

An independent expert panel, appointed by the previous minister responsible for libraries in Wales, has just published its review of Welsh public libraries today (Wed 22nd October 2014). The report is available online in English and Welsh and the Welsh Government press release is available on its website (includes quotes from the deputy minister). The press release says: “Speaking at the WLGA Library Seminar, organised in partnership with the Welsh Government, the Deputy Minister said the current management model for public libraries across Wales was not sustainable.”

The report lists 11 recommendations, and it has also taken into account the recommendations and findings from the National Assembly for Wales’ CELG committee report on public libraries which was published in late July 2014 (paragraphs 33-37). This is relevant to other libraries as CELG committee recommendation 1 is for an annual report, and the panel’s recommendation is for this to be a cross-library report (not just public libraries) as the Welsh library strategy is cross-sector.

The expert review’s report covers the current provision of public libraries in Wales and Welsh Government library policy, changes (proposed and actual) from 2014 onwards to local authority library services, and a chapter on future models of service delivery. There are lots of nuggets in the report and it considers a wide range of issues including hot topics of volunteers, the library workforce, income generation, community libraries, and legislation.

The foreword notes that whilst there is “broad agreement on provision, set out in the Fifth Framework of Welsh Public Library Standards” there remains the question of “how can this best be delivered to maintain the quality and relevance of the service for the people of Wales?” And, to achieve this by focusing on the “benefits for the user”, the statutory nature of the service, and, the current and future economic climate.

In the executive summary, paragraph five says “The review reaffirmed the importance of the public library service and that it will continue to make a positive impact to the life of individuals and their communities in the future. Libraries will play a vital role in the ongoing delivery of local and national priorities such as social inclusion, lifelong learning, literacy, digital inclusion, health and wellbeing and community cohesion.”

One of the key messages I read in the report is one of partnership, collaboration and joint working. Here in Wales we’ve always got on well together and hopefully the future for Welsh public libraries will see this continuing for the benefit of library users.

The recommendations for the deputy minister for libraries in Wales are a mix of immediate and longer term proposals. The executive summary notes that they will be subject to further discussion and will be the basis of the next library strategy for Wales post 2016. So, whatever your views on the recommendations, let CyMAL know (through me or other means).

The 11 recommendations are divided into three main areas and are copied in full below:

“Managing Change
I. The Welsh Government, Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) and local authorities should work with stakeholders to continue to develop good practice guidance which will assist local authorities and their public library services to consult on services. This should include training and promoting the effective use of the wealth of online resources available, including the National Principles of Public Engagement, Practitioners’ Manual for Public Engagement; Evaluation toolkit.

II. The Welsh Government, Welsh Local Government Association and local authorities should work with stakeholders to continue to develop good practice to assist local authorities to undertake Equality Impact Assessments. This will include training and promoting the use of the forthcoming Equality Impact Assessments Practice Hub being developed by the WLGA and NHS Centre for Equality and Human Rights among public library services.

III. Proposed changes to public library services should only be progressed following the production of costed options which should be appraised according to:
a) the identification of appropriate timescales;
b) the completion of required impact assessments;
c) the opportunities for collaborative working with neighbouring authorities or other delivery partners.
This recommendation should be applied with immediate effect.

IV. CyMAL should take immediate steps to collect evidence and assess the impact of proposed changes to library service provision on the communities affected within the context of statutory requirements in Rhondda Cynon Taf CBC, Neath Port Talbot CBC and Blaenau Gwent CBC to inform future decisions by other local authorities. CyMAL should publish a report after an initial 3 month period of research and a full report after 12 months.

Strategic Improvements
V. Every public library service should develop an evidence and outcomes based strategy to begin in 2015-16, outlining how the library service contributes to local, regional and national priorities, which is published on the library service’s website. This document should be used as a strategic planning tool and regularly revised and updated in accordance with existing corporate practice. The library service strategy should be supported by a delivery plan outlining how the strategy will be implemented, including a Results Based Accountability scorecard assessment. An example of best practice is Caerphilly CBC’s five year development plan which is based on their 10 year strategy.

VI. CyMAL should work with staff, employers, SCL Wales, CILIP Cymru and trade unions to develop a comprehensive five-year workforce development plan to start in 2015-16 for public libraries to meet future staffing needs. It is the Panel’s view that volunteers should be provided with tailored training as a discrete group to meet their specific needs.

VII. Local authorities should recognise and respond to the need for more urgent and greater emphasis on collaborative schemes in their future strategies for public library provision, especially between and among local authority departments, across local authority boundaries, and with other public sector libraries. The Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism should take into account, in deciding what constitutes a “comprehensive and efficient” service, the local authority’s record and commitment
in collaborative service delivery.

VIII. Community managed libraries (as outlined in para. 83) should not be considered as part of statutory library provision at the present time, subject to the findings of the research proposed in recommendation IV and IX. Data relating to libraries which are not part of statutory provision should not be included in returns under the Welsh Public Library Standards Framework.

IX. CyMAL should work with stakeholders to develop guidelines and appropriate documentation for partnership agreements setting out the minimum requirements which would enable a community supported library to be considered as part of an authority’s statutory provision. Relevant legal advice should be sourced as part of this process. The criteria for a community supported library to be included as part of the statutory provision should be developed by CyMAL by January 2015 for implementation from April 2015.

Future Models of Service Delivery
X. The Welsh Government should work with the WLGA and local authorities to progress the following strategic actions:
a) promote greater collaboration on a more extensive scale between authorities as an immediate priority;
b) develop public library services in-line with any future model for local government in Wales, as an ongoing commitment;
c) develop a regional or national consortium approach to the delivery of public library services in the medium-term (3-5 years), to be facilitated by a suitably funded organisation supported by the Welsh Government;
d) create a nationally co-ordinated library create a nationally co-ordinated library service for Wales as the ultimate goal.

XI. The Welsh Government should undertake the necessary legislative process which would make the Welsh Public Library Standards statutory guidance in relation to the duties imposed by the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964. The Welsh Government should also consider introducing new legislation to reflect the changing requirements for the public library to deliver services collaboratively in digital environments.”

Posted in Challenges, CyMAL, Governance, Libraries, Libraries Inspire, Public libraries, Publications, Research, Strategies, Wales, Welsh Public Library Standards | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Why I #LoveLibraries and #CaruLlyfrgelloedd

LoveLibrariesAquaIn Wales the #LoveLibraries (or in Welsh #CaruLlyfrgelloedd) campaign has just started (mid Oct 2014). This, mostly social media, campaign is seeking to promote fantastic library services, activities and staff, and also to increase membership by getting existing members to encourage someone else to join.

By using the hashtags, bilingual Twibbon and joining the Thunderclap (yep, the latter two were new to me too, shame on me!) recently, it made me think about why I love libraries. Here’s some of my reasons, in no particular order:

  • access to more books than I could possibly read, ever
  • all types of fiction to suit all tastes
  • friendly, neutral, non-invasive, welcoming spaces, with no hidden agenda
  • lovely helpful, friendly staff
  • free
  • always trying new things
  • socially equalising
  • community information – the place to go to find something out
  • the opportunties – through all that they do.

As I’ve aged (gracefully?), libraries have always been there in my life. As a child and teenager I read voraciously and needed our weekly trip to the library 10 miles away to get enough books to last the week. As a student I’ve used many libraries and found them excellent places to work, although also a source of distraction by people watching! The two times I’ve moved cities/towns in the last 20 years finding the public library was high up on the list of things to do: not only to get my fix of books, but also to find out about what’s going on in the area though local papers, noticeboards etc. These days I have a good natter with some of the staff when I pop in, and have even been known to sometimes visit libraries when on holiday elsewhere. (I hope I’m not alone in doing that, please tell me someone else does it.)

Orange background with text 'caru Llyfrgelloedd'Anyway, if you’re in Wales, or even if you’re not, you can find out more about the #LoveLibraries campaign on the Welsh Libraries website #LoveLibraries page where there’s a database of events taking place during the campaign, and if you’re a member of staff in a library in Wales you can access the briefing document and branded marketing materials from within the staff toolkit. Contact the team in Wrexham (or me) if you have any questions. And check out their Facebook pages in Welsh and English!


Posted in Academic libraries, Events, Health libraries, Libraries Inspire, Marketing, Media, Public libraries, School libraries, Social media & social networking, Wales | 6 Comments

WHELF survey of library access schemes


A good review of access schemes in universities in Wales, which includes reference to public library schemes as well.

Originally posted on WHELF:

WHELF recently carried out a survey to audit library reciprocal access schemes in Wales. The survey was run as part of Strategic Aim 1 of the WHELF Action Plan: Student Experience to assess whether WHELF was meeting its objective to develop partnership access schemes in order to further the student experience and to ascertain what areas need further development in this area. A 10 question survey via SurveyMonkey was distributed and responses were received from eight institutions: Aberystwyth University, Bangor University, Cardiff University, Cardiff Metropolitan University, National Library of Wales, Swansea University, University of South Wales and UWTSD.

The survey results revealed that the most widely used access scheme in Wales is Sconul Access with regional schemes such as Libraries Together and Linc y Gogledd also very popular. Walk in Access Wales, a recent WHELF project that allows the general public to access electronic resources at participating institutions was also…

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New scheme for innovative public library ideas

The Carnegie UK Trust are about (from 1st Sept 2014) to open applications to a new scheme of theirs: the Carnegie Library Lab. This is a three year programme of £200,000 “aimed at fostering leadership and innovation in the public library service.”

“Successful applicants will have the opportunity to take part in an online learning programme and apply for £5,000-£15,000 to develop and implement an innovative idea in their library.” They will help secure mentors to aid in implementing the ideas, help with professional and personal development of the successful applicants and facilitate networking events to build up a cohort of leaders and innovators.

The programme will “create partnerships with up to 15 public libraries to support innovative practice and show that book lending is only one of many services that libraries can deliver.”

Interested? Application forms will be available on the Carnegie UK Trust website from 1 September 2014, but there is already information about what they are looking for on their website. Applications close on 30th Sept so it’s best to get your thinking caps on now. You can also pre-register your interest on their website so that you are alerted when the papers are released.


Posted in Grants, Libraries, Public libraries, UK, Workforce development | Tagged | Leave a comment