Community libraries and trusts: a research-based report

Cartoon of owl sitting on a book

(Well, what image would you use for ‘community managed libraries’? Image CC from Pixabay)

An independent research report has just been published which investigates the current situation of community libraries and two newly established library trusts in Wales. It was commissioned by the Welsh Government as part of the recommendations (#4 and #8) of the Expert Review of Public Libraries in Wales 2014 which was published in October 2014.

The report, Independent trusts and community libraries in Wales (and which is also available in Welsh) by D Hywel E Roberts, considers the different types of community libraries currently in existence and identifies three main models: (A) community managed libraries run independently of the local authority; (B) community managed libraries benefiting from resource provision and staff support from the local authority; and (C) community managed libraries benefiting from resource provision, advice, training and paid staff in each library, direct from the local authority. 

It also provides recommendations on whether community managed libraries could be considered part of a library authority’s public library statutory provision, and of significance for Wales, whether they could be included as part of an authority’s return for the Welsh Public Library Standards (the latter point to be the subject of further guidance). There are nine recommendations in the report, some of which are for the Welsh Government to consider, some for the trusts, and some for local authorities.

Cover image of the reportThe report is necessarily only a snapshot of some case studies at present, given the short timescale it was set, but it will be of significant value for those interested in this topic across Wales, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It considers many of the common operational issue facing library services and community managed libraries and future challenges for them. And it recognises the commitment of communities to their local libraries, ensuring that they have remained open and are providing “valued, if limited, services.” (And the author records his thanks to all those who took part and provided information for the case studies.)

One of the key conclusions is that trusts, with provisos, are suitable organisations to deliver statutory library services.

On community libraries the report finds that of the three models currently in existence in Wales, “the best prospect of sustainability and viability, and a suitable emphasis on service quality” is the model which has a close and formal working relationship with the local authority library service. It also concludes that the community library model should be considered “an unrealistic option” for delivering a quality library service at larger service points, and that there should remain an element of (paid) staffing in community libraries (para 113).

The report concludes that: “Community libraries are certainly not a panacea for all the problems created by diminishing expenditure on public library provision, merely one of several options that need careful evaluation.” (Para 110). I think this report goes some way to help evaluate some of the options.

Posted in Buildings, Challenges, CyMAL, Governance, Libraries, Public libraries, Research, UK, Wales, Welsh Public Library Standards | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Reasons to love your library for National Libraries Day

National Libraries Day logo in WelshThose of you who know me and my slightly hippier side will know that I believe in things like compassion, love and kindness, to yourself and all living beings.

Therefore the campaign to write a love letter to your library for National Libraries Day 2015 (Sat 7th Feb) sounds like a perfect match to me! As I’ve previously covered why I love libraries, I thought it would be good to survey a few people as to why they love libraries. This was before I realised that in Wales, the marketing team have also issued a survey (bilingual) to find out why you love libraries – enter to win some goodies!

National Libraries Day logoGoing back to my survey, I thought I could either stand on a cold street corner and accost random strangers, or, I could conduct a semi-valid survey from the warmth of my home by asking my friends and family. Guess which I chose? Yep, the indoor option!

Here’s what a few of them said:

“A place of endless possibilities; full of ideas and different realities and empowerment. Good libraries provide information with which you may be or do anything ….. Also provide community support and the staff are amazingly wonderful.”

“I like quiet, traditional places to work. I like storehouses of knowledge (i.e. libraries aren’t just for fiction). … I don’t like  mounted TV screens –  I go to get away from things like that.”

“I like libraries because knowledge is power! Oh, and a world of endless exploration.”

“‘Cos they save me a fortune in books I would otherwise want to buy! And therefore expand my range of possibilities infinitely given I am rarely prone to buying books!”

“Because they provide so many activities for children and young people (and a lifeline for parents to socialise and meet others) – chatterbooks, summer reading challenge, story time etc etc and a place where children can choose as many books as they want to explore different authors and genres.”

If you are interested in seeing what’s going on for National Libraries Day (or the week leading up to it – many academic libraries are involved too), check out the UK website and the Wales summary listing – there’s often loads more going on than what is listed though, so pop down to your library to take part. Share the love!

The words 'love libraries and caru llyfrgelloedd over a purple background



Posted in Academic libraries, Events, Libraries, Marketing, Media, Public libraries, School libraries, UK, Wales | Tagged | Leave a comment

Welsh Information Literacy Project conference

Originally posted on WHELF:


A conference to mark the conclusion of the Welsh Information Literacy Project will take place at Glyndwr University, Wrexham on Thursday 26 March.  The event is free but places are limited and need to be booked in advance by emailing Project Manager, Andrew Eynon (

Click here to download a copy of the programme and  for further information about the WILP project click here.

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Tender open for single LMS for Welsh public libraries

Face of a dog

Well, how would you illustrate an article on LMS procurement other than with a cute animal? (Pic CC from PicJumbo.)

Hot on the heels of the Welsh universities’ announcement of the supplier for their new single LMS, the public libraries in Wales have just released the tender for a single LMS for their sector, via the National Procurement Service in Wales.

Considerable work has gone into this project over the last couple of years by a number of library staff and a couple of my colleagues, and they were all very excited when the tender went live on 12 January 2015. Closing date for suppliers is 23rd Feb 2015. A little more information can be found on the Sell2Wales website where you can register to receive more information about the tender.

“National Procurement Service as the Contracting Authority is putting in place a single-supplier Framework Agreement for use by Local Authorities in Wales identified at VI.3 (and any future successors to these organisations). The system will provide a single library management system for all public libraries in Wales, with a staged transition.”

Ken Chad has also included this on his procurement page of LGLibTech wiki where you can view information about other recent LMS tenders, and follow the link to his page about library systems.

Posted in CyMAL, Public libraries, Technology, Wales | 3 Comments

Enter the 2015 marketing awards for Welsh librarians

Swirls of read on black backgroundThe marketing awards for Welsh library staff are firmly established in the thoughts of many library staff now, being in their fifth (or is it sixth?) year. For 2015 the awards have had a revamp and there are now new catagories. For the last year (or two? Yes, I am having temporary memory failure!) they have also been open to archive staff, and for 2015 those working in museums will also be able to enter. There will be separate categories for the different sectors. (The reason for making the awards open to all sectors is that the marketing team are now responsible for the marketing development programme for libraries, archives and museums.)

The awards criteria have just been released and the relevant documents are in the staff toolkit on the WelshLibraries website. The deadline for applications is 30th January, and for 2015 there will be an awards ceremony and event day on 27th February 2015 at the National Library of Wales. The new categories this year are ‘joint marketing project’ and ‘marketing champion of the year’ so plenty of scope to show of what you’ve achieved.

The awards are a great opportunity for library staff and library services to gain recognition for your marketing projects and audience development work and there are some great prizes available. I know that there’s lots of library staff who have produced some excellent marketing campaigns in the last year, so check out the documents and send your entry in!

Posted in Academic libraries, Awards, Customer service, Health libraries, Libraries, Marketing, Public libraries, Wales | 1 Comment

Internet use in Wales and beyond

Graphic icons on inter connected network

Image copyright free from Pixabay

Two recent reports show patterns of Internet use in Wales and the UK. According to the National Survey for Wales for 2013-14:

  • 75% of households in Wales had access to the Internet at home;
  • 79% of people said they currently used the Internet at home, work or elsewhere;
  • 18% of people aged 18 and over reported that they had never used the Internet. Of those, 61% didn’t want to and 40% didn’t need to use the Internet; 28% stated that they did not have the skills to use the Internet;
  • 78% of 18 to 24 year olds accessed the Internet from a mobile/smart phone;
  • The three most commonly-used devices to access the Internet were: a laptop at home or in work (71%), a mobile or smartphone (53%), and a desktop computer (48%).

However, behind the headlines, there are some important differences. For example, whereas 79% of owner-occupier households have home Internet access, only 56% of those living in social housing have Internet access. Only 67% of households living in the 20% most deprived areas in Wales had access to the Internet (compared with 85% in the 20% least deprived). And people with “at least some qualifications are over 1.5 times as likely to be digitally engaged as those with no qualifications”. Other factors affecting Internet use include age, health, employment status and socio-economic group.

When we look at where people are using the Internet, most people use it at home, but 47% of Internet users aged 18-24 had used it in another person’s home (presumably on mobile devices), and 20% of Internet users had used it in a public place (e.g. library, café or community centre).

Looking across the border, Ofcom published their Internet Citizens report for 2014 in November 2014. The report contains an overview and analysis of “UK adults’ online participation in citizen-orientated content and services.” That is, it’s looking at use of things like government websites, public service broadcasting, local community websites and it also has a whole chapter devoted to ‘Culture and libraries’ (based mainly on the ‘Taking Part Survey’ in England by the DCMS).

Some of their headline findings are:

  • The number of Internet users who say that they have ever completed a government process online increased from 53% in 2011 to 61% in 2013;
  • One in five UK Internet users accessed the UK Government web portal (GOV.UK) in July 2014;
  • Mobile devices are being used to access citizen websites e.g. 45% of users of used a mobile device to visit the site;
  • Blogs were visited by 59% of adults who went online in 2013 and 23% said that they comments on blogs;
  • Half of adults say they browsed local news and information online at least monthly (51%), with 39% doing this at least weekly;
  • Content is being delivered across a range of platforms and in different formats i.e., not just traditional websites but via apps, social media, videos, photos, podcasts etc.

And, for most of the types of citizen websites (health, education, government etc.), it seems that most Internet visitors are in the AB socio-economic group.

Incidentally, the National Survey for Wales 2013-14 found that of those who use the Internet, 83% had accessed government or other public service websites within the past 12 months.

But what does all this mean for libraries?

A local presence online remains important to deliver targeted relevant information to your local audience, and doing this through a variety of media can be beneficial. Many people want to engage more, so by being able to ‘chat’ to the local library service online via Twitter or Facebook brings the service closer to the user. This can increase engagement levels, loyalty, trust etc. And the increase in access via mobile access means it’s essential websites are designed to work on all types of devices.

The UK report also highlights the benefits of digitising items to provide online access and expand your potential audience for those who can’t physically access a library by creating more online content. In the Taking Part survey, 14% of those surveyed had accessed a library website in 2013-14, and 50% of Internet users had used Wikipedia (p.67).

However, with most of the Internet users appearing to be from the AB (and to a lesser extent C1) social categories, it remains an important issue to consider what media and formats could be used to reach the rest of society. The digital divide is real and libraries are well placed in terms of access and skills assistance, although there are challenges around both of these issues. Libraries provide not only the physical access to computers and the Internet, but trained staff who are able to help people use computers, maybe for the first time.

Public libraries in Wales feature strongly in the digital inclusion agenda in Wales, and many are working with Communities 2.0 and other groups to help support people getting online for the first time. Public libraries in Wales open for more than 30 hours a week also offer free WiFi – a requirement that they achieved in order to meet part of one standard within the fourth framework of Welsh Public Library Standards. Interestingly, the review of public libraries in England (published 18th Dec 2014) also recommends WiFi for public libraries.

This post is mainly about the Internet and digital divide. There are of course many other computer related issues such as the ‘virtual’ library (being able to access resources remotely) and things like e-books, e-magazines, which is a whole other topic I could spend hours writing about!

Posted in Digital things, England, Libraries, Public libraries, Research, Technology, Wales, Welsh Public Library Standards | 1 Comment

WHELF Shared LMS announces chosen supplier


NEWS! Universities and Nat Lib Wales announce their shared LMS supplier.

Originally posted on WHELF:

Welsh Universities, the National Library of Wales and the NHS Libraries in Wales select a shared Library Management System

We are pleased to announce that a consortium of Welsh Universities, including the National Library of Wales, and the Welsh NHS Libraries, have selected the Ex Libris Alma unified resource management system and the Ex Libris Primo unified resource discovery and delivery system to provide a new shared Library Management System for the sector.

Jayne Dowden, Chief Operating Officer at Cardiff University, signing the contract for the provision of the shared LMS by Ex Libris on behalf of the WHELF consortium

The WHELF (Wales Higher Education Libraries Forum) Consortium has decided on the Alma and Primo next-generation solutions following a rigorous selection and assessment process. The 10 Libraries are Aberystwyth University, Bangor University, Swansea University, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Glyndwr University, the National Library of Wales, Cardiff University, Cardiff…

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