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.
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).
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 libraries.wales or llyfrgelloedd.cymru. 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.