Scoping future options for public libraries in Wales

Cover image of report - child sitting at computerThe Expert Review of public libraries in Wales outlined 11 recommendations, one of which was to review future models of service delivery and to look at regional and national options (recommendation 10).

The Scoping a new public library service for Wales report has just been published and looks at the changing position of public library services in Wales and considers how services could be managed and delivered along different models in the future.

“The report concludes that there are 4 elements to the establishment of a more resilient public library service in Wales: co-located community hubs, regional delivery consortia, a national digital library service and a workforce strategy.” (Para 3)

The report is 40 pages long so if you’re pressed for time the executive summary is three pages long, and the conclusion is two pages long.

The report is available in English or Welsh.

Posted in Governance, Libraries, MALD, Public libraries, Shared services, Strategies, Wales | 2 Comments

Rugby stories tackled by children

Jane Purdie from the all-Wales Audience Development Team, writes a guest post about the recent successful Rugby Stories competition held with libraries, museums and archives in Wales.Competition logo

First Minister for Wales, Carwyn Jones AM announced the winners of the national Rugby Stories writing competition for young people whilst also officially launching the Kick-offs and Keep-sakes exhibition at National Museum Wales, Cardiff on 16 September 2015.

Organised by the all-Wales Audience Development Team, over 500 entries were submitted to the ‘Rugby Stories’ national bilingual competition for young people. The challenge was to produce a piece of creative writing or digital storytelling on the theme of rugby, to coincide with the Rugby World Cup taking place in the UK this autumn (including some matches being played in Wales).

To help inspire children events were held in libraries, museums and archives across Wales during the summer and children had the opportunity to work with authors, poets and rap artists as well as the chance to meet some local and regional rugby players.

Young people between 7-16 years old let their imaginations run wild and could enter a poem, short story or film. The entries were judged by a specially selected panel of judges comprising rugby stars, authors, librarians and media experts.

Attending the presentation event, two of the judges, author Dan Anthony and Bardd Plant Cymru (Children’s Poet Wales) Anni Llŷn were delighted to meet the finalists. Dan commented:

“Thank you to all the children and judges that have been involved in the competition; it has been a great opportunity for children to share what rugby means to them as well as developing their literacy and digital skills. It was great fun to read and watch the entries and a really difficult job to pick the winners and runners up – well done to everyone who entered.”

Group of children

Competition winners (C) Welsh Government

The winners are:

Poetry Winners (7-9 yrs)

  • 1st – Rowan Lewis, Swansea
  • 2nd – Deio Jones, Conwy (Welsh language entry)
  • 3rd – Ianto Roberts, Wrexham

Short Story Winners (10-12 yrs)

  • 1st – Morgan Parker, Rhondda Cynon Taf
  • 2nd – Scarlett Carpenter, Rhondda Cynon Taf
  • 3rd – Sophie Featherstone, Vale of Glamorgan

Digital Story Winners (13-16 yrs)

  • 1st – Joe Orrells, Rhondda Cynon Taf
  • 2nd – Caitlin Dop, Wrexham
  • 3rd – Shay Fisher, Rhondda Cynon Taf

To view the winning entries please visit

Special achievement winners with Dan Anthony, Carywn Jones AM, and pupils' teacher. (C) Welsh Government

Special achievement winners with Dan Anthony, First Minister Carywn Jones AM, and Anni Llyn. (C) Welsh Government

And group of pupils from Maindee Primary school won a special achievement award. The pupils, who are new to Wales, worked with poet Francesca Kay and received the support of their teacher to produce work alongside their peers. The children made use of Newport Museum’s local rugby collections and Newport RFC for inspiration. Well done to Nicolas, Patrik, Erik and Maria for this outstanding achievement.

There were some great tweets and mentions on social media and a selection of these can be seen in the Storify we have created about the competition and award event.

Posted in Awards, Events, Libraries, Marketing, Public libraries, Wales | Tagged | Leave a comment

Supplier for all-Wales public library LMS just announced

Infographic with facts about Welsh public librariesThe supplier for the new shared LMS for public library services in Wales has just been announced. The single-supplier framework contract has been awarded to SirsiDynix. This piece of work, led by my colleagues in partnership with public library services in Wales, has been several years in the planning.

SirsiDynix will now work with the six local authorities in North Wales who will be first cohort to go live in 2016.

The full press release can be found on the Welsh Government website and has quotes from the various partners and two Welsh Government ministers.

If you want more information about it, please contact MALD or 0300 062 2112.



Posted in MALD, Public libraries, Technology, Wales, Welsh Government | 2 Comments

Inclusive book stock

Rainbow coloured hand with thumb up

Image CC-0 from Pixabay

I recall from my days as a library studies student and working in libraries that generally library staff are very good at being inclusive, in all areas of their work, but definitely in terms of stock collection.

I’ve just read a really comprehensive blog post written for the CILIP blog all about improving LGBTQ* provision in many types of libraries (don’t worry if you don’t know what all the letters and the *asterisk indicate, all is explained in the blog post). Do read it, even if you don’t have responsibility for stock collection. And you might want to read one of the ‘book doctor’ articles in the Guardian, recommending reads for a questioning  teenage boy.

Posted in Academic libraries, CILIP, Customer service, Equal opportunities, Libraries, Literacy, Public libraries, Reading, School libraries, UK | Tagged | Leave a comment

Cardiff Central Library goes digi-tastic!

Row of tablet devices in library

Tablet bar. Reproduced with permission. Copyright Jemma Francis

Here’s a guest post on the new digital floor at Cardiff Central library, from my colleague Jemma Francis.

There was a buzz in Cardiff city centre last Thursday (30th July 2015) with the re-opening of the revamped Cardiff Central Library. I was invited to the launch event and joined the tour which took us around the new council services advice hub and the state-of-the-art digital floor that have been developed at the library.

The Welsh Government (through MALD) provided a grant to Cardiff Council to part fund the refurbishment. They are one of the grant recipients in 2015-16 of the Community Learning Library Programme which is a £1 million investment by the Welsh Government to modernise public libraries in Wales .

Large screen display on library mezzanine floor.

Digital wall. Reproduced with permission. Copyright Jemma Francis.

The new digital floor has some terrific features including a tablet bar, digital wall, digital creative suite, children’s media zone and a gaming area. Oh and a 3D printer! This might be the first one in a Welsh public library – please let us know if there are others.

I enjoyed talking to colleagues from various agencies at the launch event and it was exciting hearing about their plans to use the new digital floor to run coding clubs and other digital inclusion activities. There will also be gaming tournaments for children and young people to get involved in.

What really came across at the event for me was the enthusiasm of the library staff for the fantastic opportunities this new digital technology will create for learning and creativity. I can’t wait to see what they’re planning next!

The new council hub at the library delivers co-location of council services, enabling Cardiff residents to access several services in a single city- centre location.

To find out more about the library and the new digital floor and council advice hub visit the Cardiff Central Library Facebook page, the council web pages or see the press article in Wales Online.

Posted in Buildings, Digital things, Grants, Libraries, MALD, Public libraries, Technology, Wales, Welsh Government | Tagged | 1 Comment

New links for MALD information

Following the name change of CyMAL to MALD (Museums, Archives and Libraries Division), the web pages have undergone a revision. Old links no longer work and I will try to update the links on my pages, and perhaps the last few months of posts.

Here are the new links:

Use this page for funding and bursary information, and this page for training opportunities.

Posted in CyMAL, Information, Libraries, Libraries Inspire, MALD, Wales, Welsh Government | Tagged | Leave a comment

Developing digital literacies

‘The librarian’s role in developing digital literacies’ was the title of a day event in Cardiff University which I was fortunate to attend the other week.

The programme was geared towards academic library staff in university settings, although was also applicable to college libraries: “The intention is to not load the day too heavily with theoretical debate but to focus on identifying and sharing workable solutions. … The aim is for people to go away with a least one idea they feel they can try out in their own institution.” (See blog post with link to full programme.) Even as a non-practising librarian, I came away with some ideas and things to ponder.

I particularly liked the discussion (and practical!) led by Lis Parcell of JISC. She introduced us to the ‘digital visitor and digital resident’ continuum, and the enhanced version with personal/organisation aspects added in. This concept looks at how we engage with digital technologies, the Internet (yes, I will keep using upper case for it!) and our digital presence, whether we dip in occasionally (visitor) or inhabit certain spaces/sites for longer (resident). You can read more about this (and watch a short video) on David White’s website – the creator of this concept – and on the JISC web pages.

On the day we did a very quick practical of arranging ourselves in a line from visitor at one end of the room to resident at the other. We were meant to talk to others to discuss what we used, how much, etc. I found myself, slightly surprisingly, at the resident end, and I thought it would be good to later map out my usage/engagement of digital stuff. Just to see if I’m a cyborg or not. See image below.

Digital VandRIt turns out I think I’m quite divided in my digital presence, usage and skills. In some senses I’m using platforms/tools a lot, but there appears to be little overlap between work and personal spheres. (I have two ‘work’ things: my full-time library job and my part-time yoga teaching, so I labelled them as either Lib or yoga.) Most things are neatly tucked away into the four quadrants! When I was roughing this map out I was surprised at the number of digital ‘things’ I use (and I’ve forgotten to put screencasts and online surveys on there!), but I also know that there’s loads of digital skills I don’t have: coding &  programming (though I did know how to write good ol’ html to create and edit webpages back in the late 90s!), audio creation and editing, wiki creation and editing, QR codes, AR, smartphones, OERs, anything to do with metadata, gaming etc.

But then, the skills I/we need should relate to what we do as jobs and for our personal lives. For example, here’s a list of 20 digital skills a teacher should have. If you’re a FE/HE librarian the digital skills which you may need to call upon may well be very different from a public librarian.

But I digress. The JISC web pages have other sample maps by various people, plotting their digital lives. The website has a toolkit to help you run this mapping exercise with library staff, users and other stakeholders.

Why is this relevant to libraries? One aspect is that if a library user is a digital resident in both work and personal spheres, they may be keen on investigating the library’s latest e-whatever offer. However, if someone uses only email and Internet searching in work, and very little at home, they are less likely to sign up straight away to the e-service, and may need more information about why they might be interested in it, what it can do for them, how they access it, if they need to learn new skills to use it etc. For college and university libraries the continuum is also relevant in terms of knowing what digital skills students have – and not assuming that everyone born after c.1993 is a full-on digital resident. It could also be useful in terms of marketing: are students using Twitter? If they’re not, there may be little point creating a library Twitter account. But you might discover that they nearly all use Facebook and so a library page on this platform may be more effective.

Another interesting topic was discussed by Nicola Hinton from the National Library of Australia. She talked about work they are undertaking to improve digital confidence (including skills) among staff, and I liked the ideas of including a digital objective in a work performance plan/appraisal, having digital mentors/champions in work as ‘go to’ people for different things, informal learning groups who meet to discuss particular digital topics and cascading learning, and a self-directed digital learning  hour (weekly? monthly?).

She also referenced research which shows that our learning comes from the following: 70% experience/exposure; 20% relationships; and 10% from formal training. We learn by doing. I have definitely found this to be the case using things like Prezi, screencasts for work purposes and CyberLink PowerDirector for video creation and editing in my other work/life as a yoga teacher.

Aimee Cook from Newcastle University highlighted their ‘see it, try it, show it’ days, aimed at staff and students. In year two they decided to get those who are less digitally engaged to join in by focusing on things people like such as sport, games, music, food, and to build sessions around the topics, rather than the technology. This is what the Carnegie UK Trust found in their digital exclusion research in Scotland and what the former Gateways to Learning project in south east Wales libraries found, going back around a decade. This approach works for those not keen on, or familiar with, technology, and for semi-cyborgs. If we’re interested in something in and of itself, we’re more likely to want to figure it out, make it work, and have fun with it than if it’s a chore or has little meaning for us.

Therefore, I think when it comes to all things digital, to some extent it may be a case of ‘the medium is the message’. It’s the tool that we use to do a certain thing. That may be hugely over-simplifying things, but currently I believe the librarian’s role in digital literacies revolves around translating and adapting the key skills of information literacy (see the Welsh Information Literacy Project for a very good framework), with additional elements such as an awareness of a personal presence when operating in a digital space. Plus lots of ‘how to use’ all the various techie new stuff.

And there’s a lot of new stuff. For a very good, simple-yet-detailed ‘metro map’ of a digital skills framework look at the ‘AllAboard’ website by universities in Ireland: so many things, all lovingly coordinated into coherent groups! This metro map might help with your visitor-resident thinking too.

Librarians taught people how to use card catalogues, now they teach them how to search effectively using Google and other search engines. (Along with 125 other things they do.)

This does not diminish how important digital literacy is: it’s an absolutely essential skill for anyone who needs to find a job, claim welfare benefits, or study at school or beyond, and library staff in all types of libraries are doing amazing things in helping others gain digital skills and confidence.

What do you think the librarian’s role is in developing digital literacies?

(Thanks to CILIP Wales and CILIP ILG for sponsoring the event and Cardiff University for organising it. And a special note of thanks to Joy for digital, and other, discussions on the way home!)

(And congratulations to anyone who made it to the end of the post!)

Posted in Academic libraries, Conferences, Digital things, Information literacy, Libraries, Online resources, Presentations / talks, Technology, Wales | Tagged , , | 6 Comments