Shining a Light on Welsh public libraries – Guest Post

In April 2017 the Carnegie UK Trust issued their latest research report on public libraries in the UK and Republic of Ireland. This a guest post by Jenny Peachey, Senior Policy Officer, Carnegie UK Trust, and author of the report where she writes about the findings and particularly about Wales.

Front covers of reportsOver to Jenny:

“It’s clear that public libraries in Wales have a special place in people’s hearts: just over ¾ of people (76%) say libraries are essential or very important to their community and just under half (46%) of those surveyed used a library in the past 12 months. This is an impressive level of sustained voluntary citizen engagement!

“In fact, there has been a slight increase in public library use in Wales from 45% to 46% between 2011 [date of the previous Carnegie UK  Trust research] and 2016. There is more good news. Research by the Carnegie UK Trust, which compares library use between 2011 and 2016 across the UK and Ireland, has revealed that more young people in Wales are now using public libraries than they were five years ago. More than half (51%) of all 15-24 year olds now use public libraries in Wales, an increase of nine percentage points since 2011. There has also been a significant jump in library use is amongst households with pre-schoolers (0-4 years) and primary-aged children (5-11 years). Library use among both the most and least deprived socio-economic groups has also increased in Wales over the last five years.

“Interestingly, public libraries in Wales are also serving more people who are not voracious readers. Almost a quarter (24%) of people who rarely/never read or who read about only one book a year  use a public library (a rise of 8 percentage points from 2011). These figures are 37% for those who read about one book a year and 51% for those who read about one book every 6 months – a 13 and 14 percentage point increase respectively.

“This is all wonderful – but, what, then, are the challenges moving forwards?

“First of all, frequency of library use in Wales has fallen from 57% to 41% over the last five years. People are therefore either choosing not to use the library as much as they once did – or are finding it more difficult to do so.

“Secondly, although 76% of people say libraries are essential or very important to their communities, only 37% say that libraries are essential or very important to themselves personally. This begs the question of how people who recognise the importance of libraries for others – but not for themselves – view libraries. Why is it that they don’t recognise what a library offers as relevant to them?

“Thirdly, 42% of people said that they would use the library more often if it was possible to search for and reserve books online – a service that is, in fact, already on offer in Wales. This (plus the finding covered in the last paragraph) points to the need to build on more effective communications and branding. After all, lack of awareness about what libraries offer means that the service may be misunderstood and underutilised by individuals and groups who could benefit from it.

“Fourthly, whilst being a prolific reader is a predictor for the likelihood and frequency of library use in Wales, a sizeable percentage (24%) of people who rarely or never read books use the library. The challenge here lies in developing services that continue to be attractive to prolific readers and services that are appealing to those who are not – whilst not inadvertently dissuading either group from using the library.

“Finally, since 2011, there has been an increase in the proportion of people who would be encouraged to use the library in Wales if a range of suggested changes and improvements were made. The most popular suggested changes in Wales are: providing better information on the services that are delivered, offering more events and providing other council services in the library. It follows that there is an ongoing need for public libraries to cultivate their ability to future-gaze, innovate and test out ideas in order to anticipate and meet community needs.

“Following from the challenges outlined above – and drawing on our research – we have set out five lessons looking at how public libraries can continue to contribute to many policy goals and improve people’s wellbeing for many years in the future. These are:

  • Demonstrate value to policy makers, decision makers and funders to maximise public and other investment:
  • Increase focus on tailored, personalised services whilst maintaining a focus on delivering a universal service
  • Accelerate the development of a user-centred, data rich service with a strong online presence
  • Invest in innovation, leadership and outcomes-based partnerships
  • Enhance learning between libraries and across jurisdictions

“Those of us who work with libraries know that they are treasured resources in the heart of local communities. At the Trust, we remain focused on forging a positive future for the public library service and look forward to working hard with our partners to bring about the changes we need to ensure a flourishing public library service.

“You can read our country factsheet on how people in Wales use public libraries and what they think of them in both English and Welsh at

Thanks for Jenny for her guest post.

Cover of Welsh factsheet

Posted in Libraries, Public libraries, Research, Strategies, UK, Wales | Tagged | 1 Comment

New web page links for MALD

Following website restructuring MALD’s web page addresses changed in December to this link for the main page.

You can find specific pages from the main page, or some you may want to go to directly are:

Posted in MALD, Wales | Leave a comment

Celebrating libraries, archives and museums in Wales

October and November are busy times in Wales for celebrating libraries, archives and museums as each sector has a festival to help everyone get to know their museum, archive and library and what’s on offer.

(I’m very grateful to Emma Glover at the Audience Development Team for writing the following post.)

Museums, archives and libraries are at the heart of their communities and we want more people to know what they have to offer and to benefit from them. Throughout the year we work to make sure that more and more people are aware of, and use the services on offer – whether you want to read the latest books, look into the history of your community, or get to grips with artefacts that tell your story.

Each year, there are three festivals which celebrate Welsh museums, archives and libraries separately, when venues are filled with events and social media is a hive of activity to show the people who weren’t there, just what they are missing! This is what 2016 looks like for libraries, museums and archives:


lovelibraries-bi-orange#LoveLibraries (and #CaruLlyfrgelloedd in Welsh) is a five-week campaign showcasing many of the great things that libraries have to offer their communities, whether they are public, academic or health libraries.

In 2016 the campaign launched with a thunderclap on 1st October and will run until 6th November. For the public, this is a great chance to find out what is available at their local library and take advantage of some of the events that celebrate poetry, children’s books and getting online among other things, while finding out how these vibrant spaces will inspire anyone to learn, interact and imagine!

Libraries of all types promote their regular and special events with #LoveLibraries and #CaruLlyfrgelloedd hashtags to help create a core identity for everything that is taking place – whether it’s study skills for new students, baby bounce and rhyme sessions or shared reading groups for older people. The five-week campaign also has different hashtags which can be used for specific days or weeks, e.g. during the UK Get Online Week, libraries used #LoveDigital alongside the official #GOLW16 hashtag, and they’ll also be taking part in the BBC’s Love to Read campaign with #LoveToRead on 5/6th November.

Find out more at: or or the events page listing what’s on across Wales or here in Welsh. You may also want to follow the Welsh Libraries Twitter account and Facebook page.

Logo of Museums Festival


The Welsh Museums Festival 2016 runs from 22nd-30th October and demonstrates that museums are fun places to visit all year round, whatever the weather.

This festival highlights the positive impact that museums make on people of all ages in Wales through events such as Museums at Night (28-29th October), half term events and Hallowe’en celebrations.

Events like these and an increased social media presence show that museums are interesting and exciting for all the family. They demonstrate that people are empowered through learning and their collections help us understand our location and how our communities have developed, strengthening our sense of identity.

Find out more at or

Logo of Explore Archives


Explore your Archive will launched on 19th November 2016 with celebrity chef Bryn Williams and a Welsh cake or two!

This celebration of Welsh archives will run until 27th November and there will be events going on across Wales that will allow people to explore what archives have to offer. These events will show how archives enable us to connect with past generations to learn the stories of our past and preserve our collective memory and cultural identity.

Archives are not just places that store documents:Explore your Archive will give the public the chance to see collections of artefacts that tell a common story, such as the history of Welsh football, cricket in South Wales and the intriguing ‘Young, Victorian and in Court…’.

Find out more at or

Posted in Academic libraries, Events, Health libraries, Libraries, Libraries Inspire, Marketing, Media, Social media & social networking, Wales | Leave a comment

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 Buildings, Cymraeg/Welsh, 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