Mini round up of news from Welsh libraries

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.

Deeside Library (C) Welsh Government

Deeside Library (C) Welsh Government

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).

Ken Skates holding ipad

Ken Skates AM, Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism launching ‘my digital library’

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 or 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.



Posted in Buildings, Digital things, E-books, E-magazines, Grants, Libraries, Libraries Inspire, MALD, Online resources, Public libraries, Wales, Welsh Government | 2 Comments

National Libraries Day 2016 – use it, love it, join it

Deputy Minister Ken Skates with books

Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Ken Skates AM

I know what I will be doing on Saturday 6th February 2016 … I will be visiting my local library! I will probably also take to the Twitter airwaves to remind people to visit their library in person or to use a virtual service. Why? Well, I go to the library most Saturdays anyway, but mainly this Saturday I will be going because it’s National Libraries Day (NLD).

Now in its fifth year, all types of libraries are taking part and the UK NLD website has a databases of events. Several libraries in Wales are already busy tweeting what they’re doing in the run up to the actual day. In Wales the hashtags to use are #NLDWales and #DCLCymru whilst in the UK the official NLD 2016 hashtag is #librariesday.

You can read the Welsh Libraries press release with a quote from the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism on the Welsh Libraries website.

I suspect most people reading this are already ‘into’ libraries, so if you yourself are already planning to visit a library on Saturday (or the week before/after if Saturday isn’t convenient), how about finding a friend or relative who is either a non or lapsed user and encouraging them to find at least one library service that they would benefit from – imagine if library membership doubled in a week! If you’re in Wales check out the Welsh Libraries website to find libraries, search all the catalogues, and see what’s on offer.

Logo of National Libraries Day

As the logo says, ‘use it, love it, join it’.


Posted in Academic libraries, CILIP, England, Events, Health libraries, Libraries, Marketing, Public libraries, School libraries, Scotland, UK, Wales | Tagged | 1 Comment

It’s January, it’s time to enter the library marketing excellence awards for Wales

The following comes from the Audience Development Team, who are looking for the best library marketing activities in Wales from 2015:

Front cover of guidelines for the awards“Has your service attracted new audiences, done a great marketing activity on a shoestring or used some grant funding to extend your engagement with a national campaign or initiative? Whatever you are doing, why not enter the Marketing Excellence Awards for your chance to win not only a prize worth £500, but recognition from your colleagues across the sectors.

“Do you know an individual who has been the main driver in marketing activities, has successfully engaged other colleagues or has shown marketing innovation and creativity? Why not nominate them for the Marketing Champion of the Year? Each year as part of the Marketing Excellence Awards we award an individual from each sector [library, museum or archive] that has shown a commitment and enthusiasm for marketing.

“The entry form guides you through the requirements for entry and is easy to complete – if you have any supporting documents/photos/info these can be emailed too. Download the entry form from the Welsh Libraries toolkit.

“Not sure if your campaign/project is eligible?  Get in touch or check out past entries from libraries on the toolkit.

“We are planning a great awards event on the 26th February 2016 in the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth – so get your entries in by 11.59pm on Friday 29th January!”

These awards have been running for several years now and are part of the Libraries Inspire strategy. I can’t think of any reason why you wouldn’t want to enter!

Posted in Academic libraries, Awards, Customer service, Health libraries, Libraries, MALD, Marketing, Public libraries, School libraries, Wales | Leave a comment

The Ideas Garage: motivate, co-ordinate and innovate (guest post)

‘The Ideas Garage: motivate, co-ordinate and innovate’ is a guest post from Claire Lewis, Strategic Library Service, Monmouthshire County Council in Wales. She was one of the recipients of the first round of the Carnegie UK Trust’s Library Lab innovation grant award scheme. Here she discusses her project, and encourages public library staff to enter the next round of Library Lab grants.

Library-Lab-LogoOver to Claire.

I’ve always been interested in self-development and innovation. Two years ago I attended a three week ‘Intrepreneurship School’ facilitated by Esko Reinikainen, a government and culture hacker, and John McConnachie, NLP Master Practitioner. The training provided practical and cognitive tools that I could apply in my work at Monmouthshire County Council.

So, when my manager made me aware of Carnegie Library Lab – a programme that offers funding, learning, mentoring and peer support – I was excited by the opportunity to develop my leadership and innovation skills.

My Project

Part of the Carnegie Library Lab programme is funding to set up an innovative project in a library or library service. The initial vision for my project was to create a community led coding space to be used by young people and adults wanting to gain and share skills and experience of coding to develop websites. I intended to apply for additional funding from MALD (a division of the Welsh Government) to convert a disused garage at the library and evolve the space into a maker/hack space. It was to be called The Ideas Garage!

I was successfully awarded the Carnegie Library Lab grant but the cost of renovating the garage was unfortunately far beyond this sum, so I decided to refocus: I would provide a volunteer-led programming club aimed at 11 to 17 year olds. The sessions would be run by mentors who would assist the young people in their own self-led learning as they create their own projects, be that in relation to websites, games, apps or animations etc.

Project Aims

The aim of The Ideas Garage is to enable children and young people to explore new and emerging technologies in an informal and creative environment. The hope is to encourage peer mentoring and youth leaders, increase social inclusion and provide children in Monmouthshire with skills and confidence for use in the workplace. For our library service, it would mean we could enhance our contribution to the local economy by enabling businesses to recruit a skilled workforce from within our own communities.

Project Progress 

One of the first things I learned was that you can’t execute a successful project on your own! Collaboration is essential and so I needed to motivate, co-ordinate and innovate, and worked with a wide range of people to get the coding club up and running. Volunteers were essential for project success and I engaged them through various volunteering sites and the library service’s social media. It took a while but eventually I had enough volunteers to start running sessions.

(C) Monmouthshire CC - with permission.

(C) Monmouthshire CC – with permission.

My intention was to run a coding club in a dedicated space but as securing this was proving a lengthy process, I provided a ‘pop-up’ coding club in the library and ran two successful taster sessions in the summer while working to secure a dedicated space. In mid-October we moved into our own coding room within the Chepstow Community Hub (and what used to be the library building), where our projects and equipment could remain set up, and we’re currently looking to run 10 sessions per 4 months.

The demand for learning to code for this age group has been astounding. We had 20 young people attending sessions from the outset.

The Library Lab Programme

The wider Library Lab programme has helped me in a number of ways. Initially the project felt a little overwhelming as I wasn’t quite sure where to start or what to focus on first. With the help of my Carnegie Mentor, Sue Lawson, I was able to talk things through, investigate different options and existing clubs/organisations to find out what worked elsewhere.

Picture of Claire LewisThe Carnegie Library Lab online programme also provided me with various skills and knowledge. I used techniques I learned to help me through some challenging times in the service and pitch the Ideas Garage to senior/non-library staff to help secure a dedicated room for the project.

One of the highlights of the Library Lab learning programme for me has been the concept of Leadership Chemicals: what can stop us from being innovative and what we need to be creative. This was really useful in my project and workplace – I’ve since made it a personal objective to get a daily dose of serotonin!

Meeting up with the other Library Lab partners was great because it really made me feel like I was part of the programme. The energy, enthusiasm and encouragement I got at the events left me with a high and feeling thoroughly motivated.

Next Steps

Now we have a successful coding club based in Chepstow, I am getting weekly requests from parents for the same in other towns within Monmouthshire. Enquiries are also coming in for adult coding sessions. With enough community support and a sustainable module, I think this can be achieved. In the meantime I will be running the 10 events every 4 months.

For others

Anybody interested in using innovation to provide a more effective service to the public should apply for Carnegie Library Lab. Not only will you benefit from the support and funding, it will help you to make a difference!

[Post from Claire ends]

The Carnegie Library Lab award is open for applications until 29th January 2016. You can also read more about the other first cohort of Library Lab people in this project snapshot document.

Posted in Awards, Digital things, Grants, Libraries, Public libraries, Technology, UK, Wales, Workforce development | Tagged , | 1 Comment

It’s #lovedigital time for Welsh libraries

Libraries of all types across Wales will be celebrating #lovedigital for a week from 21-28th Nov 2015, using the hashtag #lovedigital and #carudigidol in Welsh.


The week builds on the success of last year’s #lovelibraries theme, but is focused on all the digital services libraries offer – each day of the week will be highlighting something different and the benefits of using the service e.g. e-books, e-journals for students etc.

The campaign will help to demonstrate the impact of libraries on digital inclusion in Wales, as well as raise awareness of the digital services available through Welsh libraries, and increase digital participation.

The daily focus with themed hashtag is listed below – not every library is able to offer every service, but many of these are offered across Wales:

  • #E-zines – 21st November
  • #FamilyHistory – 22nd November
  • #E-books / #E-journals – 23rd November
  • #JobSearch – 24th November
  • #E-audio – 25th November
  • #Gaming – 26th November
  • #FreeWiFi / #DigitalFriday – 27th November
  • #Coding – 28th November

Many libraries are holding themed digital events during the week, and a searchable database of them can be found on the Welsh Libraries website. Digital Communities Wales is also working in partnership with public libraries to hold events in libraries to help tackle digital exclusion.

As well as events and daily promotion of different services, there’s an all-Wales e-book reader competition for new people joining their public library service during the week and a digital library quiz! All the information is on the WelshLibraries website.

For library staff in Wales, all the themed bilingual materials and logos can be found in the WelshLibraries staff toolkit. The week is part of the audience development strand of the Libraries Inspire strategy for Welsh libraries. Check out their Twitter and Facebook pages.

Evidence from the Carnegie UK Trust shows that the best way to help people get online for the first time or use a digital service is to find out their interests and start with that. This campaign will hopefully reach new people who may decide to read an e-magazine for the first time, then may be tempted to try using other digital services, and so on.



Posted in Digital things, E-books, E-magazines, Health libraries, Libraries, Libraries Inspire, Marketing, Media, Online resources, Public libraries, Social media & social networking, Technology, Wales | 1 Comment

Digital literacy skills and exclusion heatmap

In October 2015 the Basic Digital Skills report was issued by Go On UK, (the UK’s digital skills charity). The findings were covered by the press partly because of the first ever digital exclusion heatmap, which displays a measure of digital exclusion across the UK, down to local authority/council levels.

Cover image of report of a human hand using a computer mouseThe inner librarian and researcher in me was interested in the evidence base for the findings and the map, both of which are definitely worth a look.

Go On UK have identified five key digital skills that people need in order to undertake simple digital tasks and to keep pace with trends. These are: managing information, communicating, transacting, creating and problem solving. When you analyse these skills by tasks, several of them are core information literacy skills such ‘verify sources of information I found online’ or information management such as ‘use a search engine to look for information online. (You can view the digital skills framework on the website and even complete a self-assessment of your own digital skills!) And some of them are similar to the new digital literacy qualification being implemented as one of the Essential Skills being implemented in Wales.

The searchable heatmap combines the basic digital skills (as defined by the 11 tasks) along with known indicators of social exclusion such as age, sex and broadband coverage.

The report found that people living in Wales had the lowest levels of basic digital skills (at 62%), although it is only just behind the West Midlands (63%) and Northern Ireland (65%).

Looking through the list of 11 tasks (which are on page 5 of the report), it is possible to see how library staff can re-affirm their position of being able to help people undertake digital tasks to help them improve their skills.

So it is very good timing for a forthcoming digital celebration week coming up in Wales, which will be the subject of my next blog post!

Posted in Digital things, England, Information literacy, Northern Ireland, Research, Scotland, Technology, UK, Wales | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Written Statement on Welsh public libraries

On 9th November Ken Skates AM, Deputy Minister for Culture, Media and Sport in Wales, published a Written Statement on public libraries in Wales. The full text of the statement can be found on the Welsh Government website in English and in Welsh.
 Logo for Welsh Libraries
The statement highlights several recommendations of the Expert Review of public libraries in Wales which have been completed, including the Scoping report into future potential models of service delivery for public libraries, and the guidance issued on community-managed libraries. The Deputy Minister also refers to some of the successful schemes of the current library strategy, such as the modernisation programme with over 100 public libraries revamped by the end of March 2016 [details of many of them are on the Designing Libraries website], the all-Wales roll-out of Every Child A Library Member, and joint procurement. The Deputy Minister’s statement also makes reference to a potential new library strategy.
CILIP Cymru Wales has issued a response to the statement.


Posted in Buildings, Libraries, Public libraries, Wales, Welsh Government | Leave a comment