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!]

Posted in Conferences, CILIP, Presentations / talks, Wales, Libraries, Awards | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The library career and qualifications path


Image free from Pixabay

Library staff in Wales have opportunities to improve their skills and qualifications through the bursaries and training available under the Libraries Inspire strategic programme for 2015-16.

Full information can be found in the document ‘Library workforce development grant information’ on the Welsh Government website CyMAL grant pages.

In summary, there are bursaries available for people wishing to study library and information qualifications from Level 2 (i.e. from the Certificate in LAIS) upwards to MSc level and including the Foundation Degree and its conversion to a BSc and the PDA in ICTL (Professional Development Award in ICT in Libraries). If you have any queries get in touch – contact details are in the document. All these qualifications can be studied in Wales (or at other accredited institutions if you prefer).

Whilst I’m writing on this topic, now is a good moment to look at the career and qualifications path open to library and information staff. All the names and levels can be confusing, so I have mapped out the qualifications, to the best of my knowledge, in a table. Any errors, please correct me! (The S number in the ‘level’ column refers to Scotland as they have a slightly different education system, but as one of the Foundation Degrees offered in Wales was developed with the Scottish Qualifications Authority  you may see reference to Level 7 or 8 for that, whereas in England and Wales it relates to a Level 3-4 achievement. The SQA also now offer a full library HNC.)

Level Example qualifications Library qualifications
8 (S12) Doctorate PhD
7 (S11) Masters
Postgraduate Diploma Postgraduate Certificate

Dip Lib (Dip LIS)

6 (S 9+10) Bachelors degree
Graduate Certificate or Diploma
BSc Foundation Degree Conversion to Bachelors (year 2)
5 (S 8+9) Foundation Degree Professional Development Award
NHD – Higher National Diploma
Foundation Degree
PDA in Applications of ICT in Libraries (formerly the ‘ICTL Diploma’)
4 (S7) [1st year of university] Foundation Degree
Professional Development Award
Certificate of Higher Education HNC – Higher National Certificate
Foundation Degree
PDA in Applications of ICT in Libraries (ICTL Diploma)
3 (S6&7) A Level (and AS level)
Welsh Baccalaureate (Advanced) NVQ Level 3)
Diploma in LAIS (Level 3) (Libraries Archives and Information Services)
2 (S5) GCSE at grades A*–C
Welsh Baccalaureate (Intermediate)
NVQ Level 2
Certificate in LAIS (Level 2)
1 (S4) GCSE at grades D–G
Welsh Baccalaureate (Foundation)
NVQ Level 1
Entry (S1-3) Entry Level Certificate  

Levels 1 to 4 are also covered by Apprenticeships.

In Wales you can study at Aberystwyth University, Glyndwr University and at Grwp Llandrillo Menai, all of whom offer distance learning in varying styles.

Semi-circle diagram of qualifcations in WalesIf this table is still confusing, you may like this fan diagram (one the left) instead which maps qualifications in Wales, and which is on the Welsh Government’s education web pages, or there is a very detailed comparison chart of qualifications across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland here.

You may also want to map your skills against CILIP’s Professional Knowledge and Skills Base. You can also look at the framework of professional registration with CILIP which includes certification, chartership, fellowship and revalidation.

And finally, the Libraries Inspire investment also includes the regional library partnerships training programmes (contact details are on this tab) and CyMAL also runs a cross-sector (i.e. museums, archives and libraries) free training programme. Upcoming courses and dates are listed on the training section of the CyMAL web pages.

Posted in Careers, CILIP, CyMAL, Libraries, Libraries Inspire, Training, Wales, Workforce development | 1 Comment

Welsh librarian of 2015 award open

Gold trophy

Not the actual award. (Image CC free from Pixabay.)

It’s almost May so that can only mean one thing – the CILIP Cymru Wales 2015 conference is nearly here! The event is still open for bookings but I mainly want to highlight the third Welsh Librarian of the Year award 2015.

Organised by CILIP Cymru Wales the Welsh Librarian of the Year Award “recognises and celebrates the contribution of librarians and information professionals to the profession and society”. Nominations have been extended to 5th May so you have exactly one week from the time of writing to nominate someone! There are separate categories for nomination:

  • Public (local authority, government, health)
  • Academic and research (FE, HE, research, National Library)
  • Schools and youth
  • Other (including commercial and charity)

Nominations must demonstrate achievements in: positive impact on community or sector; use of innovation; benefit to the profession and must be a member of CILIP. The nomination form is available on the CILIP Cymru Wales website.

The Award is administered by the CILIP Cymru Wales and is sponsored by SirsiDynix.

Posted in Awards, CILIP, Conferences, Wales | 1 Comment

WHELF Shared LMS shortlisted for THELMAs Award 2015


Congratulations to the WHELF partners on being shortlisted, fingers crossed for the final result!

Originally posted on WHELF:


The WHELF Shared LMS project has been shortlisted in the “Outstanding Library Team” category  of the Times Higher Education Leadership and Managements Awards (THELMAs) for 2015. Led by Cardiff University the project is groundbreaking in its procurement of a single cloud based next generation Library Management System for all 10 Welsh Higher Education Institutions, the National Library of Wales and the Welsh NHS Libraries.

Congratulations also to Aberystwth University, Swansea University, Cardiff Metropolitan University and Cardiff University who have all also been shortlisted for awards in other categories. The winners will be announced on 18th June 2015 at the Grosvenor Hotel, London.

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Digital skills, literacy and libraries

"I'm on the computer. Literally." Image CC from Flickr.

“I’m on the computer. Literally.” Image CC from Flickr.

In recent weeks/months, various reports and announcements in the UK have focused on the essential nature of digital skills and the challenges ahead in order to achieve digital inclusion and digital participation for all. The four items that I’m going to briefly cover here are:

  • House of Lords Select Committee report on digital skills
  • Digital literacy as ‘Essential Skills’ in the curriculum in Wales
  • Successor to Communities 2.0 in Wales
  • Carnegie UK Trust research on digital participation

House of Lords Select Committee on digital skills: ‘Make or break: the UK’s digital future

This report considers digital skills to be critical to the success of the UK, in social and economic terms, in the future. The key recommendations are:

  • making digital literacy a core subject at school, alongside English and maths;
  • viewing the Internet as an important utility service, accessible to all; and
  • putting a single ‘Digital Agenda’ at the heart of Government.

“The report also noted that there are certain sectors of society, and UK regions, falling behind at great cost to the economy; and that industry has a vital role to play in developing the right skills in the workplace, in further and higher education, and in schools.” The Parliament UK website has a summary (3 pages) of the report and a list of the recommendations (66 in total), along with the full report. The report makes references to the devolved administrations, so it will be interesting to see how this agenda develops in Wales and across the UK.

Library staff in education and public libraries are already engaged in developing the digital skills of their users, so is there potential for this to be enhanced? The Research Information Network have published a blog post expressing their support for the report in general, but noting that they and CILIP’s Information Literacy Group believe the report “places too much emphasis on digital skills rather than the underpinning and wider ranging concepts of digital and information literacy.”

Digital literacy is now one of the Essential Skills in a new Welsh curriculum within FE, Work Based Learning and Adult Community Learning

The wider concepts of digital and information literacy can be seen in new developments in education in Wales. ‘Digital Literacy’ is replacing ‘ICT’ as the third Essential Skill in Wales. (Essential Skills have replaced Basic Skills within the Welsh curriculum – different name, same approach.) As a result, a new framework of learner qualifications has been created for digital literacy, with six levels (Entry 1 to Level 3) and six themes:

  • digital responsibility
  • digital information literacy
  • digital productivity
  • digital collaboration
  • digital creativity
  • digital learning.

It was interesting to hear (at the farewell conference for the Welsh Information Literacy Project), that the framework of qualification criteria (‘Design principles‘) for digital literacy which has been developed borrowed ideas and content from the WILP’s National Information Literacy Framework. Not only does it mean that the digital literacy qualification focuses on skills (as well as the technology), but it’s great to see the legacy of the WILP work.

At the time of writing, digital literacy practitioner training qualifications have been developed with JISC and other partners and the first cohort of people are now training to become digital literacy teachers so that this Essential Skill can be taught from September 2015. This could be a qualification library staff could  take to then be able to teach this digital literacy qualification within accredited settings.

Successor to Communities 2.0 in Wales

A lot of libraries and library staff were involved with Communities 2.0, (which ended on 31 March 2015) and which sought to engage people with ICT to help get them online for the first time. It was a Welsh Government programme delivered by four partner organisations, and much of the funding came from EU Regional Development Fund. The programme initially worked in the Convergence areas of Wales but later expanded to initiatives and projects across Wales. Many of the ICT sessions took place in local libraries.

The Welsh Government tended for a successor and in March 2015 announced a new programme Digital Communities Wales which began on April 1st 2015 and which will run for two years in the first instance, and will be managed by the Wales Co-operative Centre.

The new programme will focus on:

  • Working with organisations to help support digitally excluded people engage with technology
  • Providing training and support to organisations across the private, public and third sectors on how to engage people with technologies
  • Encouraging and supporting organisations to recruit and utilise volunteers to help support people to get online
  • Assisting people to overcome their ICT barriers and enhance their employability.

Carnegie UK Trust digital participation research

The Digital Communities work links neatly to the final recent item and then focus on people who are not digital engaged. The Carnegie UK Trust have published more research on digital participation, this time from Dumfries and Kirkcaldy (the first report was from Glasgow). The research found that:

  • Finding information on hobbies and interests is a key driver for going online
  • People want friends and family to help teach them digital skills
  • Cost, skills and lack of interest remain major barriers to internet access.

“The key to tackling digital exclusion is starting with the person, not the technology, and understanding what they are interested in and how the internet might be of value and benefit to them.”

This approach was used by the Gateways to Learning project in South East Wales (led by libraries in 2005-07) and applies to many areas of life: if someone is interested in a topic they are far more likely to want to take part than if they have to do something because they’re told to.

Here endeth the mini round up of digital stuff!

Update: 27th April 2015

Last week the Welsh Government launched ‘Digital First’, a document setting out “the Welsh Government’s vision to enable responsive, consistent and excellent public services through transformed digital delivery.” Steps include: “identifying and adopting best practice from within Wales, the UK and across the world, using the new .cymru and .wales domain names as default by the public sector and making use of common platforms.”

You can read the report from the Welsh Government website, read the press release, and also read it being discussed in the Senedd (debating chamber) of the National Assembly for Wales in the Record of Proceedings.


Posted in CILIP, Digital things, England, Information literacy, Libraries, Literacy, Public libraries, Research, Technology, UK, Wales | Tagged | 2 Comments

‘Leap in and have a go’ at marketing

Group of people with their awards

Marketing award winners

TV presenter Sara Edwards encouraged library staff to “leap in and have a go” at marketing especially working with the media, during the Marketing Excellence Awards in Wales last month.

These awards have been held for several years now, to recognise the fantastic marketing going on in Welsh libraries, and for the first time the awards were also open to museum and archive staff across Wales.

Also for the first time was the idea of creating a day for the awards, featuring guest speakers, award giving and general celebrating. The awards day was on 27th February 2015 in the National Library Wales where all entrants were invited and winners were presented with their prizes. There were talks by awards judge Dr Jonathan Deacon from the University of South Wales, TV presenter Sara Edwards and social media experts Mali Tudno Jones and Rhys Miles Thomas. You can look at Mali and Rhys’ presentations on the staff toolkit.

Sadly I had a work commitment elsewhere on that day, but I gather that it was an excellent day, celebrating all the fantastic marketing work undertaken by staff in archives, libraries and museums across Wales, often with very limited resources. You can see all the entries including the winning ones, and the judge’s comments, on the library staff toolkit website.

All the entries were judged by Dr Jonathan Deacon, Reader in Entrepreneurship and Marketing at the University of South Wales and Trustee (former Chair) of the Chartered Institute of Marketing Cymru. Dr Deacon commented: “I have been judging these awards for several years and I have to say that the standard of entries, innovative ideas and resourcefulness of staff in the three sectors continues to impress me. There are many examples of excellence in marketing that could equally be applied to any business or organisation within Wales. Many of the entries were low in budget but high in creativity – proving that sophisticated and successful marketing does not depend on large budgets.

Check out the videos of some of the winners talking about their projects, on the Welsh Libraries YouTube channel. You may pick up some ideas, possibly from different library sectors or even from the museums and archives winners, and start thinking about what you might do so that you can enter in next year’s awards!

The full list of winners is below:

1) Demonstrating Marketing Excellence

Further Education Libraries
Coleg Cambria: 24/7 Services
Highly commended – Coleg Sir Gar: QR = QR

Higher Education Libraries
Cardiff University: E-book Week

Health Libraries
Health Promotion Library: Training courses

Public Libraries
Pennarth Library (Vale of Glamorgan): ProTeen

Llandudno Museum: Bringing Blodwen Home

Gwent Archives:Reminiscence Walks
Highly commended – Ceredigion Archives: Napkins

2) Joint Marketing Project

Egypt Centre & Vue Cinema Swansea: Night at the Museum

3) Marketing Champion of the Year

Archives: Rhian Phillips – Glamorgan Archives

Libraries: Jane Edwards – Merthyr Tydfil public libraries

Museums: Marie Szymonski – Waterfront Museum
Highly commended: Heledd Fychan, National Museum


Posted in Academic libraries, Awards, Customer service, Events, Health libraries, Libraries, Libraries Inspire, Marketing, Media, Presentations / talks, Public libraries, Wales | 1 Comment

A classic Welsh read

Nomination formA new scheme has just been launched to find the most loved Welsh language classic books. If you have a favourite book in the Welsh language that you think is a classic, you can nominate the book for inclusion in a list which will then be distributed to libraries, bookshops and colleges to encourage others to read and enjoy Welsh language books. And there’s a prize draw to encourage you to enter your favourite books for inclusion!

The campaign is a partnership between the Society of Chief Librarians Wales, the Welsh Books Council and Literature Wales. A panel of members representing these organisations will select the list from the nominations received and agree on the inclusion of recognised classics.

Nomination forms are available in public libraries and bookshops or via the websites of Welsh Libraries (soon), the Welsh Books Council, or Literature Wales, or by emailing

The Welsh Classic campaign was launched on World Book Day (5th March 2015) and the deadline for nominations is 30 May.

The campaign is also being promoted on Twitter using the hashtag #WelshClassic.

Jane Sellwood on behalf of the Society of Chief Librarians Wales said: “Public libraries offer a range of high quality literature in Welsh and English. While there are a number of lists to guide readers to the classics, old and new, in English, there are no similar lists of Welsh language titles – this is a gap that needs filling.”

Elwyn Jones Chief Executive of the Welsh Books Council added: ” The Council supports and promotes the work of contemporary writers but it is always important to remember that classics are being read and enjoyed by readers again and again. So it’s great being able to back this campaign throughout Welsh library authorities and is a good example of co-operation to promote books and reading.”

For more information about the scheme contact Hywel James, Principal Librarian,  Gwynedd Library Service.

Posted in Cymraeg/Welsh, Libraries, Marketing, Public libraries, Reading, SCL, Wales | Tagged , | Leave a comment