New links for MALD information

Following the name change of CyMAL to MALD (Museums, Archives and Libraries Division), the web pages have undergone a revision. Old links no longer work and I will try to update the links on my pages, and perhaps the last few months of posts.

Here are the new links:

Use this page for funding and bursary information, and this page for training opportunities.

Posted in CyMAL, Information, Libraries, Libraries Inspire, MALD, Wales, Welsh Government | Tagged | Leave a comment

Developing digital literacies

‘The librarian’s role in developing digital literacies’ was the title of a day event in Cardiff University which I was fortunate to attend the other week.

The programme was geared towards academic library staff in university settings, although was also applicable to college libraries: “The intention is to not load the day too heavily with theoretical debate but to focus on identifying and sharing workable solutions. … The aim is for people to go away with a least one idea they feel they can try out in their own institution.” (See blog post with link to full programme.) Even as a non-practising librarian, I came away with some ideas and things to ponder.

I particularly liked the discussion (and practical!) led by Lis Parcell of JISC. She introduced us to the ‘digital visitor and digital resident’ continuum, and the enhanced version with personal/organisation aspects added in. This concept looks at how we engage with digital technologies, the Internet (yes, I will keep using upper case for it!) and our digital presence, whether we dip in occasionally (visitor) or inhabit certain spaces/sites for longer (resident). You can read more about this (and watch a short video) on David White’s website – the creator of this concept – and on the JISC web pages.

On the day we did a very quick practical of arranging ourselves in a line from visitor at one end of the room to resident at the other. We were meant to talk to others to discuss what we used, how much, etc. I found myself, slightly surprisingly, at the resident end, and I thought it would be good to later map out my usage/engagement of digital stuff. Just to see if I’m a cyborg or not. See image below.

Digital VandRIt turns out I think I’m quite divided in my digital presence, usage and skills. In some senses I’m using platforms/tools a lot, but there appears to be little overlap between work and personal spheres. (I have two ‘work’ things: my full-time library job and my part-time yoga teaching, so I labelled them as either Lib or yoga.) Most things are neatly tucked away into the four quadrants! When I was roughing this map out I was surprised at the number of digital ‘things’ I use (and I’ve forgotten to put screencasts and online surveys on there!), but I also know that there’s loads of digital skills I don’t have: coding &  programming (though I did know how to write good ol’ html to create and edit webpages back in the late 90s!), audio creation and editing, wiki creation and editing, QR codes, AR, smartphones, OERs, anything to do with metadata, gaming etc.

But then, the skills I/we need should relate to what we do as jobs and for our personal lives. For example, here’s a list of 20 digital skills a teacher should have. If you’re a FE/HE librarian the digital skills which you may need to call upon may well be very different from a public librarian.

But I digress. The JISC web pages have other sample maps by various people, plotting their digital lives. The website has a toolkit to help you run this mapping exercise with library staff, users and other stakeholders.

Why is this relevant to libraries? One aspect is that if a library user is a digital resident in both work and personal spheres, they may be keen on investigating the library’s latest e-whatever offer. However, if someone uses only email and Internet searching in work, and very little at home, they are less likely to sign up straight away to the e-service, and may need more information about why they might be interested in it, what it can do for them, how they access it, if they need to learn new skills to use it etc. For college and university libraries the continuum is also relevant in terms of knowing what digital skills students have – and not assuming that everyone born after c.1993 is a full-on digital resident. It could also be useful in terms of marketing: are students using Twitter? If they’re not, there may be little point creating a library Twitter account. But you might discover that they nearly all use Facebook and so a library page on this platform may be more effective.

Another interesting topic was discussed by Nicola Hinton from the National Library of Australia. She talked about work they are undertaking to improve digital confidence (including skills) among staff, and I liked the ideas of including a digital objective in a work performance plan/appraisal, having digital mentors/champions in work as ‘go to’ people for different things, informal learning groups who meet to discuss particular digital topics and cascading learning, and a self-directed digital learning  hour (weekly? monthly?).

She also referenced research which shows that our learning comes from the following: 70% experience/exposure; 20% relationships; and 10% from formal training. We learn by doing. I have definitely found this to be the case using things like Prezi, screencasts for work purposes and CyberLink PowerDirector for video creation and editing in my other work/life as a yoga teacher.

Aimee Cook from Newcastle University highlighted their ‘see it, try it, show it’ days, aimed at staff and students. In year two they decided to get those who are less digitally engaged to join in by focusing on things people like such as sport, games, music, food, and to build sessions around the topics, rather than the technology. This is what the Carnegie UK Trust found in their digital exclusion research in Scotland and what the former Gateways to Learning project in south east Wales libraries found, going back around a decade. This approach works for those not keen on, or familiar with, technology, and for semi-cyborgs. If we’re interested in something in and of itself, we’re more likely to want to figure it out, make it work, and have fun with it than if it’s a chore or has little meaning for us.

Therefore, I think when it comes to all things digital, to some extent it may be a case of ‘the medium is the message’. It’s the tool that we use to do a certain thing. That may be hugely over-simplifying things, but currently I believe the librarian’s role in digital literacies revolves around translating and adapting the key skills of information literacy (see the Welsh Information Literacy Project for a very good framework), with additional elements such as an awareness of a personal presence when operating in a digital space. Plus lots of ‘how to use’ all the various techie new stuff.

And there’s a lot of new stuff. For a very good, simple-yet-detailed ‘metro map’ of a digital skills framework look at the ‘AllAboard’ website by universities in Ireland: so many things, all lovingly coordinated into coherent groups! This metro map might help with your visitor-resident thinking too.

Librarians taught people how to use card catalogues, now they teach them how to search effectively using Google and other search engines. (Along with 125 other things they do.)

This does not diminish how important digital literacy is: it’s an absolutely essential skill for anyone who needs to find a job, claim welfare benefits, or study at school or beyond, and library staff in all types of libraries are doing amazing things in helping others gain digital skills and confidence.

What do you think the librarian’s role is in developing digital literacies?

(Thanks to CILIP Wales and CILIP ILG for sponsoring the event and Cardiff University for organising it. And a special note of thanks to Joy for digital, and other, discussions on the way home!)

(And congratulations to anyone who made it to the end of the post!)

Posted in Academic libraries, Conferences, Digital things, Information literacy, Libraries, Online resources, Presentations / talks, Technology, Wales | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Record breaking this summer in libraries

Minister talking to group of children

Ken Skates, AM, Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism launching SRC in Wales. (C) Welsh Government

It may not be a record-breaking summer for weather here in Wales, but the public libraries are seeking to break some records around reading during the Summer Reading Challenge (SRC), whose theme is year is… record breakers!

The launch of the SRC took place on 10th July 2015 (I know, I’m so behind with blogging!), with Ken Skates AM, Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism at Cefn Mawr library near Wrexham, north Wales. A grand total of 118 children from four local primary schools set a record for Wales for the largest number of children reading the same passage aloud from the same book at the same time. (They read from The Twits by Roald Dahl – short video clip on YouTube.)

With the school holidays now underway, public libraries across Wales (and England and Scotland) are encouraging their young readers to explore some the world records featured in the Guinness World Records Books, as well as to read six books during the six week summer holiday, with collectable incentives and rewards, plus a certificate or medal for every child who completes the challenge.

Two men holding banner in library with school children in background

SRC launch in Wales with Councillor Hugh Jones, Lead Member for Communities and Partnerships from Wrexham Council (L) and Ken Skates AM, Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism. (C) Welsh Government

Ken Skates said: “Reading for pleasure is important to help children develop literacy and wider skills and we should encourage children to read in all forms – from factual books like the Guinness World Records through to fantasy filled fiction, magazines, comics or the classics.”

The SRC is organised by The Reading Agency charity and the public library network, and is supported in Wales by the Museums, Archives and Libraries Division of the Welsh Government and by the Welsh Books Council. Now in its 17th year, the annual Summer Reading Challenge is aimed at 4- 11 year olds and their families and is simple, fun and free to take part. This year the Welsh Books Council are encouraging young volunteers to take part to encourage other children to participate in the SRC, as Reading Hacks.

Posted in CyMAL, Public libraries, Reading, Wales | Tagged , | Leave a comment

WHELF wins at THELMAs 2015


Well done Welsh universities and the National Library of Wales!

Originally posted on WHELF:

WHELF are the proud winners of the Outstanding Library Team Award, announced on Thursday June 18th at the Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards 2015. The awards, now in their seventh year recognise outstanding leadership and management in the UK’s higher education institutions.

The Wales Higher Education Libraries Forum (WHELF) – comprising the National Library of Wales, all 10 Welsh higher education institutions and Welsh NHS Libraries – is a groundbreaking partnership to deliver a library management system for the whole country. A single identity now allows users to access and borrow material from every higher education library, while both physical and digital services are being transformed.

The judges described WHELF as an “ambitious project” that “shows great trust, ability to develop a shared vision and achieve impressive cross-organisational alignment and coordination”. “As well as cost savings on procurement and infrastructure, the partnership approach will improve discovery and…

View original 287 more words

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Ambitions and opportunities for Scottish public libraries

Cover image of the strategy - pictures of people and clip art picturesPublic libraries in Scotland were centre stage last week when the first strategy for them was launched at the CILIP Scotland  conference June 2015. Entitled Ambition & Opportunity: a strategy for public libraries in Scotland 2015-20, it focuses on 6 strategic aims, each one supported by a number of recommendations and specific outcomes (which are wider national Scottish outcomes).

I haven’t had time to read it yet, but particularly like the flow chart mapping on pages 6-7 which lays out the strategy and its goals in a clear graphic manner.

The six strategic aims are:

  • reading, literacy and learning
  • digital inclusion
  • economic wellbeing
  • social wellbeing
  • culture and creativity
  • public services.

You can read more about how the strategy was formulated, the partnerships involved and how it is proposed it will be taken forward on the SLIC website (including minutes from the planning meetings and a .pdf of the strategy) or on the Carnegie UK Trust website. Both organisations played a lead role in the development of the strategy, along with other stakeholders.

Having started my library experience (aged 1 month) in a Scottish library and retaining a soft spot for Scotland, and thinking about the content for Wales’ next strategy, I’m going to look forward to reading this document.

Posted in CILIP, Public libraries, Publications, Research, Scotland, Strategies | Leave a comment

New guidance on community managed libraries and statutory provision

In consultation with local authorities in Wales, the Welsh Government has drawn up guidance on what requirements community managed libraries must meet in order to be considered as part of a local authority’s statutory service, and also whether they can be included in the Welsh Public Library Standards (WPLS) returns for 2014-15 performance.

The Guidance on Community Managed Libraries and the Statutory Provision of Public Library Services in Wales document outlines the criteria which community managed libraries should meet in order to be included as part of the statutory library service. These criteria are the 18 core entitlements in the Welsh Public Library Standards fifth framework (Making a difference). The entitlements cover a range of services and facilities which members of the public can expect to be provided by any public library service in Wales.

The guidance also provides detail on the 18 core entitlements in relation to the WPLS and how authorities should gather usage information from appropriate community libraries in order to complete their WPLS return.      

The Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Ken Skates AM provided a written statement (in English and Welsh) on this new guidance.

The document Community managed libraries and the statutory provision of public library service in Wales can be downloaded from the page about the WPLS on the Welsh Government website (and is also available in Welsh as Canllawiau ynghylch Llyfrgelloedd a Reolir gan Gymunedau a Darpariaeth Statudol Gwasanaethau Llyfrgelloedd Cyhoeddus yng Nghymru) . The guidance fulfils recommendation 9 of the Expert Review of Public Libraries in Wales 2014.

Posted in Governance, Public libraries, Wales, Welsh Public Library Standards | 8 Comments

Conference nuggets from Wales

Swansea beach

Swansea Bay, just metres from the conference hotel. Image Creative Commons from Pixabay

The theme of the 2015 CILIP Cymru Wales conference was ‘Ready for business’ and there definitely seemed to be a positive and energetic vibe during the two days of the conference.

The programme on both days was very full and I have decided against a detailed review of all the sessions – that would take far too long to write and read! Instead I thought I’d present a mix of nuggets I picked up from speakers, things to ponder, conference tips, and some general personal ramblings. Hopefully you might find one or two things of interest and/or you might want to skim the Twitter feed. In no particular order:


  1. A memorandum of understanding between a library service and other departments/organisations can be very beneficial to progress specific projects.
  2. When planning a hackathon or other similar techie events the key ingredients are: a theme; a suitable space; people (to join in; experts to help out); Wi-Fi & lots of power and plug sockets; publicity; food; and rewards.
  3. Send your boss an email every week to say what you’ve done that week and how it has supported the organisation’s strategy and goals.
  4. Always be ‘meeting ready’ in dress-code, either in person or in back-up options kept in a locker.
  5. Gamification (i.e. introducing elements from the gaming world into the real world; or better put as ‘using game mechanics to reward employees and customers‘) works with library users – encourage them with rewards to use the library more or differently (see also no. 2 above). [NB the reward system is also good for training dogs although generally that’s based on doggie treats not printer credit, badges etc.]
  6. ‘Quick wins’ to introduce in libraries to help users/customers include ‘shopping baskets’ particularly for students who may be borrowing 10+ books at a time, and (recyclable) umbrella bags (particularly good for Wales I would have thought).
  7. It can be hard to innovate during a period of reduction, but it is important to remain optimistic and focused.
  8. Advocacy is an ongoing, all-the-time, activity/process.
  9. (Political) philosophical theories and ethics influence policy thinking, which in turn influences libraries. As philosophical theories fall in and out of flavour, libraries and their stakeholders should look at the current trends in political philosophy to talk about libraries in the same lingo as the policy makers. (I suggest you look at the presenter’s slides and a recent article about this if you want to know more, and read up on communitarianism as the current philosophy in flavour.)
  10. Mini-MOOCs can be delivered by a library service by adapting Creative Commons content to run bite-sized online training e.g. ‘10 days of Twitter‘ . You could also add some gamification ideas in to encourage people to keep going!
  11. Never stop promoting library services – even to engineers who come to fix things in your house! (True story: @JLPwxm did this and when the guy came back a few days later to finish the work he and his family had all signed up to their local library!)
  12. It is possible to base a presentation about audience development entirely around sunflowers, and keep your audience engaged.
  13. Always wear your most comfortable shoes for a conference, unless you are applying point no. 4 above.
  14. Always have a spare pair of tights with you, especially if you are applying point no. 4 above.
  15. If meat-eating delegates in the conference dinner choose the vegetarian dish, it could lead to melongate.
  16. Always check out the facilities at, and location of, the conference hotel so that you can make the most of the pool or beach. (Or both in this case.) (Outside the hours of the conference programme of course.)

Overall, the conference seemed to have a ‘ready for action’ and uplifting buzz and there was lots of mention of working together, particularly from the overall winner of the Welsh Librarian of the Year award Mark Hughes from Swansea University library.

[Points 1-11 are points by speakers, the remaining ones are just my notes!]

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