The National Library of Wales in a new light

Although I have not yet read the novel Y Llyfrgell (my Welsh needs to improve a bit more first), I was keen to watch the film adaptation, The Library Suicides (or Y Llyfrgell in Welsh), which has just been released (August 2016) in Welsh with English subtitles. As I’m in Aberystwyth I had the slightly surreal pleasure of watching the film only a few minutes walk away from where 90% of the film is set: the National Library of Wales.

Image from poster of twin womenIt’s a very tightly focused film, in terms of only having a few main characters (four/five), and being almost entirely filmed inside the National Library. As I am lucky enough to go to meetings and events in the National Library, including walking through the staff areas, it was slightly strange to see sections I know in real life up on the big screen. Especially when they’re covered in blood. I took extra care in the revolving doors when I next went to the library!

According to a colleague who has seen the film and read the book, the two are actually quite different, and, to avoid giving much of the plot or ending away, I’ll just say that apparently the film’s ending is more ambiguous than in book.

The film centres around twins, Ana and Nan, who work in the National Library as digital curators/archivists. There are some great one-liners about digital preservation, cultural significance and the role of digital collections – yes, seriously! Librarians will also recognise the amateur’s classic error in the rolling stacks…

National Library of Wales

Source: Wikipedia

For me the film addresses questions of the trustworthy nature (or otherwise) of narrators, the truth behind works of fiction or non-fiction, the diary as an accurate record of history, and the role of institutions like the National Library, in providing access to history and culture. A crucial element is also the impact of dementia on people and their lives. And the concept of revenge.

As a friend and colleague (no longer living in Aberystwyth) said it made her wistful for the sea and Aberystwyth – I found it made me rekindle my soft-spot for Aberystwyth too.

It’s well filmed, well acted, and well written (Fflur Dafydd, the book’s author wrote the film adaptation too). If you get a chance, go and see it. It opened in the Edinburgh Film Festival, where Catrin Stewart won Best Performance in British Feature. There are still a few screenings planned for their initial tour – see the Facebook page or Twitter account, including a showing in the National Library itself!

Posted in Cymraeg/Welsh, Buildings, Digitisation, Wales | Tagged | 2 Comments

Publishing and literature in Wales survey

Teddy bear reading a book

Image CC-0 from Pixabay

The Welsh Government is reviewing its support for publishing and literature in Wales and there is an open questionnaire/survey for anyone to fill in. Closes 31 August 2016 and is also available in Welsh. Readers and librarians may be keen to give their views.

Most of the questions are quite closed/set, but there are four open ones you might want to think about before hand so you have your answers ready (maybe type them up first so you can copy and paste at that point). They are:

  • “What are the main challenges faced by the publishing industry and literature in Wales? These could be cultural, social, economic or of another kind.
  • Which aspects of the support currently provided for publishing and literature are working well (and why)?
  • Is there anything that should be done differently (and, if so, why)? Please explain what the outcomes would be of making the changes you describe.
  • Is there anything else you would like the Panel to consider?”
Posted in Consultations, Cymraeg/Welsh, E-books, Governance, Libraries, Public libraries, Reading, Wales, Welsh Government | Leave a comment

Big friendly start to the Big Friendly Read!

“The event was a chance to show what libraries do so well, everyday – a place full of people having a great time, celebrating reading.” (Jemma Francis, my colleague)

PrintPublic libraries across Wales, along with their counterparts in the rest of the UK, have combined two great book things in one, to make a major summer splash. How? They have themed the ever popular Summer Reading Challenge (SRC) with celebrating 100 years of one of the UK’s favourite storytellers (Roald Dahl) in the Big Friendly Read 2016. Roald Dahl was born in Wales 100 years ago, and so the 2016 Summer Reading Challenge theme is his books and characters. Even better, the graphics for the SRC have been produced by Quentin Blake, who illustrated many of Dahl’s children’s books.

In Wales the official start took place at Glynneath Library (in Neath Port Talbot), on Thursday 28th July, with a packed library of kids, adults, a friendly police officer, storyteller and author Mike Church, and an engaging reading and talk from the Wales Cabinet Secretary for Education, Kirsty Williams. She said:

“The Summer Reading Challenge has proved hugely successful in motivating children to read more over the summer holidays. Research has shown that this helps keep their reading level up before going back to school in September.

“As Roald Dahl so perfectly said, ‘if you are going to get anywhere in life, you have to read a lot of books’ and I would encourage parents to make the most of the time with their children this summer, dive into a book and who knows where you’ll end up.”

Aled Evans and Kirsty Williams

Kirsty Williams (R) with Aled Evans, Director of Education at NPT (C) Welsh Government

Ken Skates, Cabinet Secretary with responsibility for libraries in Wales, said:

“We know libraries can have a real positive impact on children’s lives, introducing them to countless new interests and helping them develop a love of reading. I’m pleased we have been able to continue our support for the Summer Reading Challenge this year, and hope it will help children across Wales get involved in adventures throughout the summer.”

My colleague Jemma Francis attended the event and said the event was vibrant and action packed.

She said, “I remember taking part in many Summer Reading Challenge events during my time working in public libraries, so I was really pleased to be able to attend the celebration event at Glynneath library. The library staff had made a fantastic effort to add lots of Roald Dahl touches to the library to tie in with the theme, including dream jars (made by the children) and Big Friendly Read bunting (I loved this!).

“At 9.30am there was a real buzz at the library as lots of children and parents came along to see the entertainment from Mike Church – who made the adults laugh just as much as the children with his Willy Wonka antics. We also had a reading from the Cabinet Secretary for Education Kirsty Williams, who read an excerpt from George’s Marvellous Medicine in keeping with the Dahl theme. The event was a chance to show what libraries do so well, everyday – a place full of people having a great time, celebrating reading.”

Thanks to everyone who organised this event which sounded brilliant!

Mike Church entertaining the children (and adults!) (C) Welsh Government

Mike Church entertaining the children (and adults!) (C) Welsh Government

The Reading Agency and public libraries across the UK deliver the annual Summer Reading Challenge, when children aged 4-11 are encouraged to read six or more library books (or comics etc) of their choice during the summer holidays, with collectable incentives and rewards, plus a certificate, or medal for every child who completes the challenge.

Taking part in the Summer Reading Challenge is free and is one example of what public libraries offer to help children develop a love of reading, gain confidence and get new skills.

Kirsty Williams (centre), Cabinet Secretary for Education with two Glynneath library staff. (C) Welsh Government

Kirsty Williams (centre), Cabinet Secretary for Education with two Glynneath library staff. (C) Welsh Government

Public libraries across Wales are holding lots of events and activities during the summer holidays to keep children occupied and parents stress free! Some of the fantastic events that have been organised for the SRC in Welsh libraries include a chocolate workshop, author visits, art and craft sessions and an interactive drama and play group.

Information about local libraries in Wales can be found on

The Welsh Government press release for SRC event is on their website.

Posted in Libraries, Literacy, Public libraries, Reading, Wales, Welsh Government | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Adults’ media use, particularly of the Internet, from Ofcom research

Logo of OfcomLast month (April 2016), Ofcom produced its annual Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes Report for the UK. This research report looks at “media use, attitudes and understanding, and how these change over time, with a particular focus on those groups that tend not to participate digitally. The report covers TV, radio, mobile, games, and the internet, with a particular focus on the latter.”

For libraries, there are a number of salient points, some of which I have picked out here (my bold emphasis). The summary pages at the beginning of the report are useful to read if you are pressed for time or less interested in some areas of the report.

  • Just over one in ten (13%) do not use the internet at all, which rises to 65% of those aged 75+, and 33% of 65-74s and 42% are in DE households.
  • A third of internet users have never completed any government processes online; 16-24s, 65-74s, over-75s and DEs are less likely to access public or civic services online.
  • There has been a sizeable increase in the proportion of internet users saying they only use websites or apps that they’ve used before (42% vs 31% in 2014).
  • Search engines are the only online source that a majority of internet users consider to be ‘very important’ for finding information.
  • Half of search engine users (51%) were unable to correctly identify adverts or sponsored links in a results page of a search engine; this was more common among over-65s and those in DE households.
  • Although six in ten (62%) say that, on a results page, some of the websites listed will be accurate and unbiased and some won’t be, 18% think that if a website has been listed by a search engine it must be accurate and unbiased. A further 12% say they have not thought about this, and 8% say they do not know. Those aged 25-34 are most likely to give an incorrect response to this question.
  • Just over one in ten (12%) say that they ‘don’t really think about whether to trust a site, and just use those they like the look of’.
  • There has been a considerable rise (from 6% in 2014 to 16% in 2015) in the proportion of adults who only use smartphones or tablets to go online, and not a PC/laptop.
  • There is increasing polarity between different age groups in terms of communications activity.
Person using laptop, tablet and smartphone

Image CC0 Public Domain from Pixabay

Library staff in all sectors can, and do, help to improve digital literacy skills of people who they come across (in the library) – the next area to tackle may be how to reach those who don’t come to the library, and who stick only to the websites or apps they already know, and who fully trust search engines.

Posted in Digital things, Information literacy, Libraries, Media, Publications, Research, Technology, UK | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Mini round up of news from Welsh libraries

Despite my recent silence on social media, particularly lack of blog posts, there has been lots going on in Welsh libraries, and today’s blog post only highlights some of the recent items.

Deeside Library (C) Welsh Government

Deeside Library (C) Welsh Government

Yesterday (31st March 2016), Ken Skates AM, Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, announced £2.3m of Welsh Government funding for museums, archives and libraries for 2016-17. Of this, £1m is capital funding for the Community Learning Libraries Programme, with modernisation awards going to libraries in Bala, Brecon, Cardiff, Haverfordwest, Holywell and Merthyr Tydfil.

The Community Learning Libraries Programme has now modernised just over 100 libraries since it began, investing over £14m of Welsh Government funding, along with local authority funding, in almost 10 years. The Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism attended a celebration event earlier in March 2016 to mark this milestone and opened Deeside library which had received a grant create a new facility in the leisure centre (amalgamating three smaller part-time libraries).

Ken Skates holding ipad

Ken Skates AM, Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism launching ‘my digital library’

March also saw a refresh of the all-Wales digital offer with the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism launching ‘my digital library’ and a new enhanced national digital library service via the Welsh  libraries portal. The portal has also changed web address to the new .wales and .cymru domains and is or The digital offer now includes e-audio books as well as e-magazines and standard e-books, all of which can be accessed remotely with a Welsh public library card. It also provides direct access to some of the popular remote-access e-resources available from the National Library of Wales, and a link on how to become a remote e-reader of the National Library (which requires a Welsh postcode.)

One final achievement in March is the publication of the first annual report (review) of Welsh libraries. This was a recommendation of the inquiry into public libraries by the National Assembly for Wales’ CELG Committee and was accepted by the Expert Review of public libraries, and broadened to include all library sectors in Wales. The review is available on the Expert Review pages of the Welsh Government website.

Alongside all these items of work, Jemma and I have been busy with the end of financial year, the end of Libraries Inspire, and preparing for 2016-17.



Posted in Buildings, Digital things, E-books, E-magazines, Grants, Libraries, Libraries Inspire, MALD, Online resources, Public libraries, Wales, Welsh Government | 2 Comments

National Libraries Day 2016 – use it, love it, join it

Deputy Minister Ken Skates with books

Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Ken Skates AM

I know what I will be doing on Saturday 6th February 2016 … I will be visiting my local library! I will probably also take to the Twitter airwaves to remind people to visit their library in person or to use a virtual service. Why? Well, I go to the library most Saturdays anyway, but mainly this Saturday I will be going because it’s National Libraries Day (NLD).

Now in its fifth year, all types of libraries are taking part and the UK NLD website has a databases of events. Several libraries in Wales are already busy tweeting what they’re doing in the run up to the actual day. In Wales the hashtags to use are #NLDWales and #DCLCymru whilst in the UK the official NLD 2016 hashtag is #librariesday.

You can read the Welsh Libraries press release with a quote from the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism on the Welsh Libraries website.

I suspect most people reading this are already ‘into’ libraries, so if you yourself are already planning to visit a library on Saturday (or the week before/after if Saturday isn’t convenient), how about finding a friend or relative who is either a non or lapsed user and encouraging them to find at least one library service that they would benefit from – imagine if library membership doubled in a week! If you’re in Wales check out the Welsh Libraries website to find libraries, search all the catalogues, and see what’s on offer.

Logo of National Libraries Day

As the logo says, ‘use it, love it, join it’.


Posted in Academic libraries, CILIP, England, Events, Health libraries, Libraries, Marketing, Public libraries, School libraries, Scotland, UK, Wales | Tagged | 1 Comment

It’s January, it’s time to enter the library marketing excellence awards for Wales

The following comes from the Audience Development Team, who are looking for the best library marketing activities in Wales from 2015:

Front cover of guidelines for the awards“Has your service attracted new audiences, done a great marketing activity on a shoestring or used some grant funding to extend your engagement with a national campaign or initiative? Whatever you are doing, why not enter the Marketing Excellence Awards for your chance to win not only a prize worth £500, but recognition from your colleagues across the sectors.

“Do you know an individual who has been the main driver in marketing activities, has successfully engaged other colleagues or has shown marketing innovation and creativity? Why not nominate them for the Marketing Champion of the Year? Each year as part of the Marketing Excellence Awards we award an individual from each sector [library, museum or archive] that has shown a commitment and enthusiasm for marketing.

“The entry form guides you through the requirements for entry and is easy to complete – if you have any supporting documents/photos/info these can be emailed too. Download the entry form from the Welsh Libraries toolkit.

“Not sure if your campaign/project is eligible?  Get in touch or check out past entries from libraries on the toolkit.

“We are planning a great awards event on the 26th February 2016 in the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth – so get your entries in by 11.59pm on Friday 29th January!”

These awards have been running for several years now and are part of the Libraries Inspire strategy. I can’t think of any reason why you wouldn’t want to enter!

Posted in Academic libraries, Awards, Customer service, Health libraries, Libraries, MALD, Marketing, Public libraries, School libraries, Wales | Leave a comment