As I start my second year as Chair of WHELF, I look back on a year of wonderful achievements and celebration for all of us. The new bilingual shared Library Management System (LMS) has been implemented by all the Welsh Higher Education (HE) libraries, the National Library of Wales, the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and the Wales NHS libraries. A library management system is the technology which enables university and other libraries to buy, catalogue, lend and show their holdings.
As a consortium, we introduced Alma and Primo systems, marketed by Ex-Libris across member institutions during a three-year long programme. The final part of the implementation took place at Bangor and Glyndwr Universities this summer. The whole project has been a remarkable achievement which clearly demonstrates the trust, commitment, vision and strength of collaboration within WHELF. Students will benefit immensely from this new library system which provides easier access to resources for teaching, learning and research.
An excellent event on Celebrating Library Cooperation was held at the Senedd in Cardiff on September 22nd where we all celebrated the completion of the WHELF LMS implementation and start of the roll-out of the public library system in Wales. The event was hosted by the Minister for Skills and Science Julie James, who stated that “I’m really pleased to be able to celebrate your collaboration and innovation in Welsh libraries and I’m proud that the Welsh Government has supported both of these partnership projects. Welsh libraries are leading the way in working collaboratively to deliver a better service for all those who use them. The new shared library management systems will also bring significant benefits for all library members across Wales”.
I would also like to thank Cardiff University for overseeing the project and tender process. I would especially like to thank Gareth Owen the LMS Programme Manager for WHELF for all his hard work in ensuring the implementation across the member institutions kept to time and that earlier cohorts learned from the process and assisted later cohorts. The Project Managers and all staff involved at each institution deserve great credit for all their hard work in ensuring the system and the processes involved were implemented on time. There is still a lot more to do to take advantage of all the possible benefits that the new system can offer and we are looking forward to those developments.
Thanks are also due to JISC and MALD for supporting us and working with us on this project and for the excellent work being carried out under the JISC Benefits Realisation Project which is measuring the success of the project in terms of quantitative and qualitative data.
This year has been a year of change and we have revised the WHELF Action Plan, Strategy and Constitution to reflect changes in the REF, Open Access, Digital Literacy and Employability initiatives. We now have a new “Engagement” strand as well as the strands for “Collections and Research” led by Janet Peters and “Collaboration” led by Mark Hughes. There have also been changes in our membership and I would like to warmly welcome the National Museum of Wales and Natural Resources Wales who joined us this year.
My personal thanks are sent to Emma Adamson Vice Chair, our Treasurer Julie Hart and our wonderful Development Officer, Rachael Whitfield. The following pages will also highlight many of the other activities in which WHELF has been involved throughout the year and I hope you enjoy reading this report.
Sue Hodges, Chair of WHELF, Director of Libraries and Archives Bangor University
The Year in Brief
We were delighted to welcome two new libraries into the membership of WHELF this year; Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales joined in February 2016 and Natural Resources Wales joined in July of 2016. The WHELF Representatives from these institutions are Kristine Chapman and Tegid Rhys Williams respectively, and we look forward to the collaborative opportunities that this will provide for WHELF in working on areas of shared interest. The University of Wales merger with the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) has entered its final stages and as a result the University of Wales has retired from independent membership of WHELF.
The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD) took the opportunity over the summer to refurbish their library entrance. It now has a welcoming new library entrance, issue desk and office space; new carpet has been laid and the study space throughout the library has been rearranged. RWCMD have also launched a new website (www.rwcmd.ac.uk/library) that is clearer and easier to navigate and is part of the main College website.
Library Services at The Open University (OU) have launched a new online environment “OpenTree”, for all OU students and staff. It is designed to help students explore and share resources from the OU online library in the form of a game and is the first project by the OU Library to use gamification (points and badges) to motivate engagement. OpenTree logs the online resources that the user has accessed, and allows them to tag, highlight and recommend them to others. This encourages students to develop critical thinking skills and for tutors and academic staff, is a way to let students know about useful resources.
Cardiff University Library developed four online induction mini-modules which are openly available from YouTube. They form part of a set of online Study Skills on the intranet, and will be used instead of, or alongside, face to face teaching. An evaluation of their effectiveness will be carried out and the findings will help to decide whether to continue to invest in this method of teaching students particularly for the larger cohorts. The “Transforming Libraries” programme at Cardiff University is investigating the options to redesign their library services and to plan for a new Library on the Cathays Campus. Automated storage and retrieval systems are being considered and the proposal for the new library service is due to be put forward in late 2016.
There has been a library refurbishment at the University of South Wales (USW) as part of the £14.7m ATRiuM Cardiff campus extension. As part of this campus development, the Library space has been completely refurbished with the provision of new student learning spaces, an increase in technology, the creation of dedicated silent study space and an integrated frontline service. The University’s Caerleon Library service closed on July 15th 2016, and both the team and the library collections have been integrated into their new respective campus locations. The changes at USW over the summer months resulted in c. 360,000 physical items being either relocated, handled and interfiled.
Planning is well underway for the University of Wales Trinity Saint David new £300 million SA1 Waterfront campus. Phase one of construction will begin in Autumn 2016 and will deliver the library, and the faculty of Architecture, Computing and Engineering to create a new learning neighbourhood connecting education with business, innovation and enterprise. The new site will be operational for the start of the academic year in 2018.
Swansea University Libraries have had a restructuring of their customer services as a result of opening the new Bay Campus library and 24-hour opening being operational across both the Bay and Singleton Park library’s. A new Customer Services Team fronts all ISS services, led by the Customer Services Manager. The restructuring involved a large team of staff from library, IT and other areas of ISS services being reframed into the new service.
Marketing Excellence Awards 2016
Congratulations to Information Services at Aberystwyth University who won the Higher Education category Marketing Excellence Award 2016 for their Haiku competition as part of World Book Night events. The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama were also delighted to be highly commended in both the areas that they entered for: the general HE libraries category (for work to increase their engagement with the wider College through improved signage, displays and a new Twitter account) and Marketing Champion of the Year (for Rachelle Barlow, Library Assistant). The awards were held at the National Library of Wales on 26th February and are orchestrated by the Audience Development Team at MALD (Museums Archives and Libraries Division, Welsh Government) to celebrate and reward marketing excellence in Welsh libraries, museums and archives.
Whilst the implementation phase for WHELF is now complete there is still much more to come. The LMS has provided a platform for building deeper and wider collaboration and for further work in opening up and sharing our collections for the benefit of all. WHELF is now actively working with Jisc (Joint Information Systems Committee) on a benefits realisation study, which will report in 2017. The project will provide a model business case for the development of a shared LMS across a consortium of higher education institutions, and a summary of the key requirements and issues to consider for implementing a shared system and the key benefits and impacts of doing so. For the future, WHELF is committed to building on this initiative, enabling more benefits and to sharing its work with the wider community.
In May, nearly 50 delegates attended “The Big Reveal” conference, which was jointly organized by the WHELF Archives and Special Collections group and the Archives and Records Council Wales (ARCW). Since 2008, staff from the Museums, Archives and Libraries Division of Welsh Government have worked together with archivists, conservators and the National Manuscripts and Conservation Trust (NMCT) to preserve and provide access to archival collections. The NMCT scheme provides the opportunity to undertake a fully funded manuscript conservation project and 15 eligible organisations have taken advantage of the scheme, which has provided conservation funding for 35 projects, amounting to over two hundred thousand pounds. The conference was held to celebrate this partnership and to demonstrate the significance and impact of conservation work on users and collections.
Special Collections news
“Penrhyn: Sugar and Slate” is an 18-month project at Bangor University Archives & Special Collections funded by the National Cataloguing Grants Programme to create a multi-level online catalogue for the remainder of the unprocessed Penrhyn Papers. Bangor have also received funding from the National Manuscripts Conservation Trust (NMCT) to conduct vital conservation work on the fragile maps contained within the Penrhyn Estate documents.
Bangor University has also set up two new Research Centres based on its Special Collections. These are the Centre for Arthurian Studies and the Colclough Centre for the History and Culture of the Book. The Shankland series of lectures based on the Archives and Special Collections was very successful and is being continued this year. The lectures are held in the Shankland Reading Room. The Library also received funding from the Bangor Alumni Fund for an overhead book scanner to digitise 50 rare books or parts of books.
The Drama Association of Wales (DAW) collection is now housed in the library of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. The collection includes several thousand plays, many of which are sets and are available for loan to drama groups. The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama has been gradually listing and organizing the collection and have now added over 2500 titles to their online catalogue. A new website of Discovering Welsh Music was launched in partnership between Tŷ Cerdd and the National Library of Wales. The resource currently concentrates on five composers: William Mathias, Dilys Elwyn-Edwards, Grace Williams, Joseph Parry and Alun Hoddinott whose work is included within the Library’s collection. The website is a shop window to the collections and provides a bridge between the unique archives (those which have not been performed or published) and the wider audience of musicians and performers.
Cardiff University Library Special Collections have received a grant from the National Cataloguing Grants Programme for Archives funded by the National Archives for the project, ‘Collingwood Collection: Ruskin and Ransome Rediscovered – a literary, philosophical, and artistic portrait from the Lake District”. The grant will pay for an Archivist to work with the collection and catalogue the letters in the Collingwood Archive over the next two years, with elements of crowd sourcing.
In June 2016, the Survey of the Manors of Crickhowell & Tretower by Robert Johnson (1587), held at the National Library of Wales (NLW) was added to the UNESCO Memory of the World UK Register. The awards were presented and celebrated at the Senedd in Cardiff. The UK Register recognises documentary heritage of outstanding significance and the Survey of the Manors of Crickhowell & Tretower is unique in its creation of hand drawn coloured maps as an integral part of the survey. In addition to this the NLW were also awarded Accredited Status under the Archive Service Accreditation Standard. The Accreditation Panel noted that the Library possessed “many areas of strong practice, particularly the excellence of developments in volunteering in recent years, and the mature, confident approach to the preservation of born-digital records, in which the Library is a leader in a UK-wide context.”
The Roderic Bowen Library and Archives at University of Wales Trinity Saint David have hosted several student interns as part of the MA in Heritage Practice and have also had six volunteers listing photographs and transcribing registers. The National Library of Wales has been able this year to appoint two trainee conservators have with the support of the Library’s Association of Friends. The post holders will contribute to the essential core activities of the Library by enabling access to collections and receive training in all aspects of conservation work, including preventative and treatment activities. It will take more than a year to become a professional conservator with the ability to treat rare volumes and manuscripts and it is hoped, therefore, to continue with the posts, if circumstances permit. The South Wales Miners’ Library and the Richard Burton Archives have both hosted a two-week placement as part of the Heritage Skills Programme at Swansea University.
Wales Showing Our Metal was a joint cataloguing project between the Richard Burton Archives and Archives and Record Council Wales (ARCW) that included cataloguing steel related records in the Archives at Swansea University. As part of the associated Forging Ahead conservation project, student volunteers have been undertaking cleaning, repackaging and the numbering of records of the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation.
Widening Access and Community Engagement
Working jointly with the Open Media Unit and part-funded by the Higher Education Academy, the Open University have produced a free badged open course (BOC) called “Succeeding in a Digital World”. Aimed at those new to life online, the course enables learners to develop the skills and confidence to use technology effectively to achieve their goals. It covers: digital identity, digital footprint and digital citizenship; e-safety, security, privacy, digital wellbeing and Creative Commons; finding reliable information quickly, judging its trustworthiness and dealing with information overload; making the most of apps.
The University of Wales Trinity Saint David has been appointed to lead the teaching of the Welsh language to adults across Wales. The new role will see the institution set up the Wales-wide strategic direction in Welsh for adults, provide leadership for teaching providers and raise teaching standards. The university will also be responsible for developing a national curriculum for Welsh for adults and producing resources.
As part of the community engagement delivery plan of the National Library of Wales, People’s Collection Wales has worked in partnership with Dysgu Bro, offering the ‘Digitising materials for museums, libraries and archives training in digitisation’ which can lead to an accredited course on the Agored Cymru Qualification and Credit Framework. The National Library of Wales Wikipedian in Residence has also been making inroads in increasing public engagement with the library’s digital collections. Engagement events to create, edit and enrich Wikipedia articles (‘Edit-a-thons’) on several topics have been held across Wales, including a Rugby World Cup event at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
Continuing Professional Development
There have been several retirements from WHELF this year. We said goodbye to WHELF Representatives; Nicky Whitsed (Director of Library Services, The Open University), Avril Jones (Director of Collections and Public Programmes at the National Library of Wales) and Anne Harvey (Head of Library and Learning Resources at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David: Swansea). We wish them all well in their retirement and thank them for their support and contribution to the work of WHELF over the years. As the University of Wales merges with the University of Wales Trinity Saint David we also said goodbye to WHELF Representative Bronwen Blatchford and wish her well in her new role as Systems Librarian at Cardiff Metropolitan University and also Assistant Librarian for Music (maternity cover) at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
Emma Adamson was appointed as the new Vice-Chair for WHELF 2015-17. Emma joined WHELF in 2010, and from the outset has been an active member in supporting and helping WHELF to achieve its aims. Emma has also taken on a new role this year when she moved from being Head of Library Services at Cardiff Metropolitan University to become Director of Learning Services at the University of South Wales.
We welcomed new WHELF Representatives Pedr ap Llwyd who replaced Avril Jones from the National Library of Wales as Director of Collections and Public Programmes along with Tegid Rhys Williams (Information Services Manager, Natural Resources Wales and Kristine Chapman (Principal Librarian, Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales).
WHELF would also like to congratulate the following WHELF Representatives on their new roles: Mark Hughes Head of Library Services at Cardiff Metropolitan University; Alison Harding, Executive Head of Library and Learning Resources at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and Steve Williams, University Librarian, Head of Libraries, Archives, Culture and Arts Swansea University.
We would also like to wish Peter Keelan, Head of Special Collections and Archives at Cardiff University and long standing member of the WHELF Archives & Special Collections a happy retirement. Alan Vaughan Hughes is the new Head of Special Collections and Archives and will represent Cardiff University on the WHELF Archives & Special Collections group.