My job title is Libraries Development Adviser, but what does that actually mean? Hopefully by the end of this post you’ll have a clearer idea of what I do and how I can maybe help you, especially (particularly) if you work in a library in Wales.
So, my job role is pretty varied, and that’s probably one of the reasons I’ve been in post for 7.5 years (and counting). It has four main elements:
- Advice and support
- Ministerial work
- Policy work
- Networking, current awareness, research, presentations etc
Plus, for reasons not relevant to this post, I am also the editor of the CyMAL magazine, of which two issues are published a year.
For library staff in Wales, the advice and support role may be the most relevant of my tasks. Any member of library staff can contact me about any library issue and I will do my best to provide the advice and support needed to answer the query. The most common queries relate to bursaries, qualifications or cataloguing and library management systems for small specialist libraries. The inner reference librarian in me loves answering a good query and finding out the answer.
I’m also really enjoying blogging, which I see as part of my advice and support role – blogging about things I find out or which I think might be useful to library staff in Wales.
In order to be able to answer any questions I need to keep on top of library matters, so that’s where current awareness comes in. I find my RSS feeds on my Netvibes (public) dashboard really helpful for keeping up to date, along with Twitter, library email mailing lists and catching up with colleagues at events.
Ministerial work plays an important part in my job and can involve work on ministerial correspondence, briefings, diary cases (for events), and briefing for questions in the Senedd. It’s vital the minister has the most up to date information on a range of topics and can make informed decisions. The nature of this work means that there’s often short turnaround times, which keeps us on our toes!
Alongside the ministerial work is the longer term policy work, developing and delivering the Welsh Government’s strategy for libraries. We are now into year two of Libraries Inspire, which is the third library strategy for Wales. We worked closely with the library sector to produce the library strategy and I act as the nominal programme manager for the strategy (chairing meetings, overseeing the budget, keeping the delivery plan up to date, making sure we’re on track to achieve things etc).
There are also a lot of grants associated with the library strategy and each grant has a key contact in CyMAL who keeps track of the project, ensures they’re working to budget and to proposed milestones etc and ensures the claims are completed successfully in Feb-March. I have quite a few grants that I am the lead for, so that keeps me in touch with library staff in Wales. And I’m the strand leader for a couple of the work strands of Libraries Inspire, working with a small team in the National Library of Wales, and also the Libraries Inspire marketing team based at Wrexham.
I’m also the lead for the evaluation of Libraries Inspire. The evaluation is being carried out by Scotinform – you can read the evaluation of Libraries for Life on the CyMAL website.
New for this year I’m also going to be shadowing a colleague on the Welsh Public Library Standards, and from 2014 will be leading on this piece of work.
My job also entails networking, giving presentations/lectures, attending events etc. I also try to get some articles published each year about successful Welsh library projects because I know that we’re doing lots but that it isn’t well-known outside of Wales. However, when there’s a squeeze on time that’s often the thing that falls off the list. A piece of research work I’m involved with is working with colleagues in Scotland and Northern Ireland on a return on investment toolkit for public libraries. Public libraries in Wales will hear more about that soon!
My job is therefore both front-facing (as a lot of us in CyMAL are, which is unusual for civil servants but we’re a ‘new’ division set up in 2004) in that I work directly with the sector, and also internal within the Welsh Government.
I’ll see some of you at the CILIP Wales conference in a few days where various parts of my job come together (keeping up to date, attending events and networking) – maybe see some of you there?