The £14.7m refurbishment and extension to the University of South Wales (USW) Cardiff campus – ATRiuM – was realised successfully and on schedule for the start of the 2016/17 academic year. ATRiuM is now the main campus for the Faculty of Creative Industries, and the refurbishment of the Library has resulted in improved study space and technology for students and staff.
The design for the new library at University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Swansea campus has been finalised, and a library staff working group has been established to look in detail at the interior design and configuration for the building / service provision. Working closely with the project delivery team the group has representatives from the libraries across UWTSD. The project is running to schedule and the new library will open in July 2018. The campus will initially be the new home for the Faculty of Architecture, Computing and Engineering and the Faculty of Education and Communities, relocating from the Mount Pleasant and Townhill Campuses. The second phase of the project will include the Faculty of Business and Management.
In late 2017 Cardiff Metropolitan University refurbished and improved its Llandaff Library concourse and ground floor area incorporating some of the ideas gained from a UX training day run by Andy Priestner in October. New carpets and lighting were added before new tables and additional furniture to enable group study areas were brought in. This was also an opportunity for the Library to open up its entire ground floor area on a 24/7 basis (previously restricted to the concourse only). The changes have been hugely popular with students and there has been a notable increase in the amount of use the area now gets around the clock.
At Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, the St Fagans Redevelopment Project is nearing completion. The Main Building has been handed over, and staff are starting the process of installing the galleries and creating the Collections Discovery Centre, which will feature objects, archival material and library items. Additionally, the Oakdale Workmen’s Institute, has been undergoing a great deal of re-interpretation, including recreating the original Institute Library, and making it the Museum’s first ever Dementia Friendly building.
The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama endeavoured to see every student at the start of the academic year to highlight changes in the library following refurbishment and implementation of the WHELF Shared LMS. This has helped rincrease the visibility of the library and led to greater demand from individual courses for specialist library training in effective searching and referencing.
The National Library of Wales (NLW) carried out an extensive consultation exercise early in 2017 on the formulation of a new strategy. “The Nation’s Memory: Informing the Future: Strategic Plan 2017-2021” was finalised and published later in the year. The Library also welcomed the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales into new offices in the building.
As part of the Open University’s new strategy, Leadership in Digital Innovation, Library Services put in a bid for funds for as part of the DiSC project (Digital Skills and Capabilities). Over three years the project will develop a range of resources and approaches to grow the digital capabilities of OU staff, Associate Lecturers, researchers and students in order to address some of the current challenges in the sector. DiSC will have a positive impact on student retention, engagement, motivation, completion, progression and satisfaction.
Since January 2017, USW Library Services have been successfully piloting 24/7 Virtual Chat, via the subscribed to SCONUL and OCLC service. The Virtual Chat service has been implemented and seen uptake from 6pm - 8.30am from a breadth of users, and has effectively resolved overnight queries from on-campus, part-time, distance and Franchise users. The pilot is set to run for the duration of 2017, and is being monitored by the team, to enable a mid-point report to be produced, and to inform decision on the service for 2018.
A review of the current Library Services at the University of South Wales staffing structure and job descriptions was undertaken during 2016/17 and this was followed by a review of the wider Learning Services team including Careers & Employability Team and Student Development and Study Skills Team. The ultimate objective was to enable improved delivery of services to students and staff, and to modernise job roles and types. UWTSD have also carried out a restructuring process to further harmonise service provision after institutional mergers.
The National Library of Wales won the UK and Ireland prestigious Archive Volunteering Award sponsored by the Archives and Records Association. The Library’s scheme “Helping us to Achieve” engaged the support of 65 volunteers to work on projects and a further 769 online volunteers to assist in the Cynefin project, which geo-references Wales’ tithe maps.
Two WHELF institutions were shortlisted this year in the Outstanding Library Team category of this year’s Times Higher Education Leadership & Management Awards (THELMAs). Bangor University’s nomination was based on the widening access and public engagement work undertaken by the Library and Archives Service in recent years. Swansea University was also nominated and their submission reflected on the involvement of all staff in cross-service changes that were made leading up to the opening of the Bay Library
The Marketing team at Swansea University Libraries won the Welsh Libraries Marketing Excellence Award 2017 (HE Award) sponsored by MALD (Museums, Archives, Libraries Division Welsh Government) for their “Assignments: Survive and Thrive” campaign that ran in November and February.
Sue Hodges (retired Director of Libraries and Archives at Bangor University and former WHELF Chair) was shortlisted for the Welsh Librarian of the Year Award 2017 which is celebrated every year as part of the CILIP Cymru Wales (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) conference. Congratulations to all the librarians nominated across the sector. The winner of the award was Wendy Foster (Knowledge Services Manager, West Wales General Hospital, Hywel Dda University Health Board) and a lifetime achievement award was presented to Thomas Hywel James (Principal Librarian, Gwynedd Library Service).
Customer Services Excellence
The libraries of Aberystwyth University, Cardiff University and Swansea University have all been successfully reaccredited this year with the Customer Services Excellence Award. Congratulations to all.
WHELF Shared LMS
Following successful implementation of the WHELF Shared LMS in the nine Welsh universities, the National Library of Wales and the NHS Wales Libraries, the project entered a new phase in 2016-17 to grow and develop this shared platform to enable wider and deeper collaboration. Post implementation WHELF identified three key areas to progress; exploring a shared catalogue and cataloguing, reciprocal borrowing and analytics. These were formalised as projects under the direction of Gareth Owen (WHELF Shared LMS Programme Manager) with associated project boards to fulfil the work. Good progress has been made in all areas. In regard to the development of the project area for a shared catalogue and cataloguing, WHELF has joined phase 1 of the Jisc National Bibliographic Knowledgebase (NBK) project. The project builds on the current Copac service enabling the provision of a shared “union catalogue” for WHELF as well as aligning with WHELF’s objectives around improved discoverability, shared analytics and collection management. In addition, WHELF cataloguers, building on a Gregynog workshop in March 2017, have developed a range of standard cataloguing templates for use across WHELF.
A WHELF wide sampling exercise has been carried out across the Shared LMS institutions to identify the business case for fulfilment of reciprocal borrowing. In addition, ISO functionality has been tested across several institutions. The findings from this sampling exercise and functionality pilot will inform a business case to be presented to the WHELF Shared LMS Steering Group. The Analytics Project Group held a workshop at Gregynog in March 2017 and continue to share expertise and knowledge in WHELF through use of their collaborative space on Yammer and through online training sessions, as well as producing and sharing reports across institutions.
Funded by Jisc, Cambridge Econometrics were commissioned to carry out an independent evaluation of the WHELF Shared LMS to understand and identify the benefits within a structured framework. The report is supplemented with three case studies from Cardiff University, the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and the National Library of Wales. The final report, published in October 2017, highlights the quantitative and qualitative benefits experienced by WHELF.
Commemorating World War I
The Roderic Bowen Library and Archives at UWTSD Lampeter held a special exhibition to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Somme. The exhibition, St. David’s College and the Somme commemorates those members of Saint David's College who served in the first Battle of the Somme and who did not survive World War One. The research for the exhibition was undertaken by students of UWTSD Lampeter studying the Roderic Bowen Library and Archives practical workshop module. The National Manuscripts Conservation Trust has awarded Cardiff University Special Collections and Archives £3000 to conserve the manuscripts and notebooks of the poet and novelist Edward Thomas. They have also recently held an exhibition of some of Thomas’ work to commemorate the centenary of his death. He lost his life during World War One at the Battle of Arras in 1917. And at Bangor University Archives & Special Collections have been commemorating the centenary of the death of Hedd Wyn with an exhibition of his poetry and letters. Hedd Wyn died on the first day of the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917. These exhibitions complement some of the resources found on the Welsh Experience of the First World War website. The Jisc funded project digitized and made available on line primary sources from the Libraries, Special Collections and Archives of Wales (cymru1914.org).
WHELF formed a new Customer Services Group April 2017. The Group is Chaired by Sarah Jones (Customer Services Manager, Swansea University Library). The group incorporates the membership of the former ALIS Wales (Accessible Library and Information Services) group and welcomes some new members from the WHELF institutions. The group has started work on a benchmarking repository to share service standards, KPIs and to also help identify any standards in common
The WHELF/HEWIT Gregynog Colloquium was held this year from 12th-16th June and was organized by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and Swansea University. The theme of the Colloquium was “Advocacy, Engagement and the Student Experience” and welcomed a number of keynote speakers including Michael Jubb to launch the Academic Book of the Future project report and Nick Poole, Chief Executive of CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals). The Colloquium is valued as an opportunity for library and IT staff professional development, to share experience and network. Thank you to UWTSD and Swansea University for organizing a varied and informative programme.
The CILIP Cymru/Wales conference took place in Llandudno, from 11th-12th May with a theme of “Library and Information Professionals: working towards a greater Wales”. The conference had representation from across the library and information sector including WHELF members attending as delegates and presenters. A number of WHELF members are currently enrolled for CILIP Professional Registration at Certification, Chartership and Fellowship level and other members are Revalidating.
After being piloted during 2015-16, the WHELF Staff Development Fund was fully operational during 2016-17 and supported a number of training events and workshops for WHELF. These included a Research Data Management Workshop delivered by Andrew Cox (Senior Lecturer at the Information School University of Sheffield); Bangor University Library TeachMeet on Employability Skills; a cataloguing training day held at Gregynog Hall as part of the WHELF Shared LMS; three parallel events across Wales on librarians supporting the support research lifecycle; a UXLibs workshop run by Andy Priestner and supported Beth Hall in attending the CONUL (Consortium of National and University Libraries) conference in Galway to deliver a presentation about the work of the WHELF Research group.