About

Friday, 19 December 2014

Christmas break

23 Llyfrgellydd will be taking a short break over the holiday period, and will pick up again on Friday 9th January 2015


Nadolig llawen a Blwyddyn newydd dda!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Friday, 12 December 2014

11 - Philippa Price, University of Wales Trinity Saint David

This week Philippa explains how her teaching qualification has benefited her role in an academic library.

My name is Philippa Price and I am an Assistant Librarian at University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Swansea Campus. My route to librarianship was a fairly common one, I think. I graduated with a non-vocational degree – in my case American Studies – and wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself! I read American Studies at Aberystwyth University and developed an interest in their Information and Library Studies programme when I took a few options from there as part of my modular undergraduate degree. After graduation, librarianship was always at the back of my mind as a possible career, but it was a few years before I took the plunge and enrolled on the full time Masters, also at Aberystwyth. After graduation, I found a job as a Senior Library Assistant on a mobile library service in Gloucestershire, which was fantastic, but not the professional job I was looking for. After a short time as Library Assistant in Swindon College, I gained my current position at UWTSD (then Swansea Institute of Higher Education).

In my current job, I’m based at the Townhill site and offer subject support to the staff and students on the education programmes here at Swansea.  I have worked here since 2005, a fact that I find very hard to believe; it really doesn’t feel as though I’ve been here almost 10 years!


I haven’t been resting on my laurels all that time, though. As well as building and maintaining a good relationship with academics and students, I began the chartership process with CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) a couple of years after undertaking this role and achieved chartered status in 2009. More recently, continuing the development of my teaching skills which I committed to during chartership, I graduated last year with a PGCE in Post-Compulsory Education and Training (PCET) here at UWTSD.

The PGCE was something I toyed with doing for a number of years, and I’m so glad I finally took the plunge. Library sessions with students are a big part of a subject librarian’s role and a significant part of my time is spent planning and delivering induction sessions and classes on accessing library databases and other online resources. I found the PGCE enormously helpful in allowing me both the time to reflect on my own teaching activities and the opportunity to share experience with teachers and trainers from other sectors. The PCET PGCE attracts people from all sorts of areas and I loved the fact that I was able to get to know teachers from universities, FE colleges, community education settings and work-based learning, all teaching a whole range of different subjects from accountancy to self-esteem.

As part of the course, we studied things like curriculum design, learning barriers/motivation, teaching strategies and the wider context of education. Some of these topics had more immediate relevance than others in my day-to-day job, but it was so beneficial to be able to think about education and teaching practices as a whole like this, rather than just my small part of it. This was especially helpful for me as an education librarian, of course! And as well as developing my knowledge of education as a discipline, I was able to use our library sources as a student, which gave me new insight into usability and most useful functions. At library sessions, I always try to share some of my experience with students so they can understand how and why particular resources or features can be helpful.


The course has more practical elements too. We had opportunities to play and experiment with applications which can be used to develop engaging electronic resources. We made screencasts, podcasts, videos, wikis and quizzes, all of which will stand me in good stead for my career in librarianship. We rarely get to spend more than a session here and there with our student groups, so being able to create online information sources is invaluable.

And of course there was the teaching! We taught short lessons to our peers, completed team teaching exercises and benefited from tutor and mentor observations of our normal teaching activities. All that sounds a bit daunting, and no one really looks forward to being observed, but it was actually a very positive experience. My peers, tutors and mentor were very supportive. The feedback process helped to recognise my strengths as well as the areas where I could develop further.

An unforeseen consequence of the PGCE led to me teaching on that very same programme after graduation! Last academic year saw me teach around 80 hours across a couple of modules of the course. Much of the teaching for the part-time programme goes on in the evening, so I was able to fit this in around my job in the library. It was certainly hard work, but well worth it! My experience as a part-time lecturer has been invaluable for my work as a librarian. The education staff here at UWTSD Swansea have always been supportive of the library and made me feel part of the team, but there can be no substitute for experiencing the academic administrative and teaching process first hand. I really feel as though it has given me a better insight to the library’s place in that process.

I’m very fortunate to work at a university which offers a teaching qualification such as the PCET PGCE, and fortunate to have line managers who supported me in undertaking that route. And of course, I was lucky enough to be able to gain some teaching experience on the same programme! Not all colleagues are in such a position, but I would certainly recommend any librarian consider partaking of some sort of teacher development, be that a PGCE or short teaching course or similar. Working with people to develop their skills is such a huge part of our jobs these days that it really does help to have some theory and knowledge of teaching and learning to support that kind of activity.

Friday, 5 December 2014

10 - Jane Purdie, Wrexham

This post is in Welsh, please scroll down for the English version.

Jane Purdie – Swyddog Datblygu Cynulleidfa a Marchnata Llyfrgelloedd yn Ysbrydoli

Yn gyntaf, rhaid i mi gyfaddef cwpl o bethau:

1.       Dydw i ddim yn llyfrgellydd

2.       Dydw i erioed wedi ysgrifennu blog o’r blaen

Ddim yn ddechrau rhy addawol, felly! Ond, rwyf wedi bod yn gweithio gyda staff mewn llyfrgelloedd cyhoeddus, academaidd a llyfrgelloedd iechyd ar draws Cymru am y saith mlynedd diwethaf ac wedi derbyn teitl ‘anrhydeddus’ shambrarian – gan obeithio nad yw hynny’n sarhaus!!


Rwyf fi a’m cydweithwraig, Bethan Rogers wedi’n lleoli yn Wrecsam ac rydym yn gweithio ar linyn marchnata fframweithiau llyfrgell Llywodraeth Cymru - @eichllyfrgell, Llyfrgelloedd am Oes ac ar hyn o bryd Llyfrgelloedd yn Ysbrydoli.

Dros y blynyddoedd diwethaf rydym wedi trefnu nifer o ymgyrchoedd hyrwyddo, o Dyddiau Da i I’r Llyfrgell, I Ddarllen, I Wella – gan weithio gyda rhwydwaith ffantastig o hyrwyddwyr marchnata mewn llyfrgelloedd i sicrhau bod yr ymgyrchoedd hyn yn llwyddo.  Rydym wedi trefnu digwyddiadau gydag enwogion, gyda llu o sêr o Gymru fel Cerys Matthews a Ruth Jones i dîm rygbi’r Scarlets a’r bytholwyrdd Derek Brockway – Dyn Tywydd BBC Cymru.


Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru sy’n cynnal ein gwefan ac mae’n borth i fyd o wybodaeth am lyfrgelloedd yng Nghymru, gyda’r newyddion diweddaraf, ffrwd twitter a’r ymgyrchoedd diweddaraf ynghyd â’n hadnoddau ar lein gan gynnwys e-gronau am ddim, sef cynnig anhygoel sydd wedi tyfu bob mis ers ei lansio ym mis Tachwedd y llynedd.

Trwy glicio ar ‘staff’ a gweithio eich ffordd trwy’r holl adnoddau yn yr adran hon, gallwch ddod o hyd i waith celf i’w lawrlwytho a’i ddefnyddio’n lleol, ffotograffau, dolenni at adnoddau rhanbarthol a llawer iawn mwy.

Bydd ymgyrch eleni yn cael ei lansio gyda Thunderclap ar 13 Hydref. Ymgyrch #CaruLlyfrgelloedd ar sail cyfryngau cymdeithasol yw hon sy’n dangos y dewis eang o wasanaethau sydd ar gael mewn llyfrgelloedd o bob sector, gan annog pobl i ddefnyddio cyfryngau cymdeithasol i ddweud wrthym pam eu bod yn caru llyfrgelloedd. Y nod enfawr yw dyblu’r aelodaeth mewn llyfrgelloedd cyhoeddus!


Rwyf wedi sylwi ar lawer o newidiadau dros y blynyddoedd diwethaf, yn enwedig yn y 12 mis diwethaf gydag adnoddau’n cael eu torri mor enbyd fel mai prin fod amser gan staff i’w neilltuo i hyrwyddo eu gwasanaeth – felly rydym yn ceisio helpu trwy hyrwyddo gwasanaethau yn genedlaethol a defnyddio cyfryngau cymdeithasol yn helaeth ac adeiladu ein rhwydwaith o gysylltiadau.

Rwy’n meddwl bod staff llyfrgelloedd yn ffantastig ac fe brofwyd hyn eleni gydag ymrwymiad anhygoel i ymgyrch Pob Plentyn yn Aelod o’r Llyfrgell a gafodd ei dreilau mewn 6 awdurdod lleol ar ddechrau 2014. Erbyn hyn fe fydd yn cael ei roi ar waith fesul cam mewn 10 awdurdod arall. Mae’r gwaith a aeth i mewn i’r prosiect hwn yn enfawr ond mae staff wedi dod i sylweddoli pa mor bwysig yw defnyddio’r ymgyrch i dynnu sylw at eu gwasanaeth llyfrgell, meithrin partneriaethau newydd, denu aelodau newydd a helpu i gyflawni blaenoriaethau Llywodraeth Cymru a blaenoriaethau lleol megis llythrennedd a thlodi plant.

Gallwch ddysgu mwy trwy ein dilyn @welshlibraries neu ddod o hyd i ni ar Facebook. Mae croeso i chi gysylltu â ni os oes gennych unrhyw gwestiynau.

Jane Purdie – Libraries Inspire Audience Development & Marketing Officer

Firstly, a couple of confessions:

1.       I’m not a librarian

2.       I’ve never written a blog before

So not a good start! However, I have been working with library staff in public, academic and health libraries across Wales for the past seven years and have been given the ‘honorary’ title of shambrarian – hopefully this isn’t an insult!!


Me and my colleague, Bethan Rogers are based in Wrexham and work on the marketing strand of the Welsh Government library frameworks - @yourlibrary, Libraries for Life and currently Libraries Inspire.

Over the past few years we have organised numerous promotional campaigns from Happy Days to Get Reading, Get Better, Get Libraries – working with a fantastic network of marketing champions in libraries to make these campaigns a success.   We have organised celebrity events with a wide range of Welsh stars from Cerys Matthews and Ruth Jones to the Scarlets rugby team and the ever popular Derek Brockway – the BBC Wales Weatherman.


Our website hosted by the National Library of Wales is a portal into a world of information about libraries in Wales, with recent news, twitter feed and the latest campaigns plus our online resources including the amazing free e-zines offer which has grown every month since its launch last November.

By clicking on ‘staff’ and working your way through the vast resources in this section you can find artwork to download and use locally, photographs, links to regional resources and much more.

This year’s campaign will be launched with a Thunderclap on 13th October it’s a social media based campaign #LoveLibraries showcasing the wide range of services available in libraries from all sectors, encouraging people to use social media to tell us why they love libraries and with a massive aim of doubling the membership of public libraries!


I’ve noticed many changes over the past few years, particularly in the last 12 months with resources being cut so severely that staff have little time to devote to promoting their service – so we aim to help by promoting services nationally using social media extensively and building up our network of contacts.

I think library staff are fantastic and this has been demonstrated this year by an astonishing commitment to the Every Child a Library Member campaign which was piloted in 6 local authorities at the start of 2014 and is now about to be rolled out to another 10 authorities – the amount of work that has gone into this project is huge but staff have recognised the importance of using this campaign to draw attention to their library service, to forge new partnerships, to attract new members and to help deliver against Welsh Government and local priorities such as literacy and child poverty.

Find out more by following us @welshlibraries or find us on Facebook and please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.

Friday, 28 November 2014

9 - Andrea Griffiths, Vale of Glamorgan

This week's post from Andrea Griffiths, Community Outreach Officer at Vale of Glamorgan Libraries feels very timely. I'm sure many of us will be able to identify with the difficulties of trying to continue to provide services we can be proud of in the face of so many cuts.

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to work in a library. As a child, all my bookshelves were strict-ordered and subject categorised. Some children played Doctors and Nurses – I played Libraries, and even charged my younger sister for returning books late.


At 19, after a false start at Art College, I started work as a Library Assistant at Cardiff Central Library, transferring 18 months later to Barry Library, where I am still based. Over the following twenty or so years I had a number of promotions and secondments, spending so many years in the Reference and Local Studies section that I was helping children with school projects whose parents had also come to me for help!

I loved this job. I was given a lot of scope to make the Local Studies information more accessible and built up a good relationship with schools and organisations such as the Glamorgan Family History Society and the local Volunteer Bureau, with whom I compiled the Community Directory.

If the library was invited to have a presence at Careers Fairs, Youth Information Days, Lifelong Learning events, etc. I was the one who “took the library out” – I still am! I have always believed that the Library Service has to be pro-active in maintaining a high profile within the County Council and with the wider public, so I still make sure I sit on various committees in order to keep abreast of community developments.


What I didn’t like so much about the job was the loneliness. I was in a department of one for many years and it was only when we had a new librarian that I had regular staff to assist and train.

When the library was moved wholesale to the Leisure Centre during refurbishment, I found the environment very uncomfortable and started applying for other jobs. In 2004 my perfect job came along – to catalogue the Vale’s complete Local Studies collection! We were still in the process of computerising our stock, and Local Studies was the last section to be attempted. It was a big job, but having done lots of cataloguing in the past I was up to it and a spent a very pleasurable year’s secondment, under Helen McNabb, the Vale’s brilliant Bibliographic Services Officer.

I then saw advertised the new post of Community Outreach Officer and discussed whether it was worth applying for, as I didn’t have any professional qualifications, other than an Open University degree, completed some four years earlier. I was advised to “go for it” and got my application in on the very last day. Thank goodness I did! I was successful in the interview and offered funding to follow the MSc Econ distance learning course at Aberystwyth. I was so grateful – at last I would qualify, after nearly thirty years working in libraries!

The Outreach Officer’s post included line management responsibilities for four village libraries and two Mobile Libraries, almost all single-staffed by experienced Senior Assistants I had known and worked alongside for many years. I was in a very happy place – I had staff I liked and respected, an approachable line manager in Christopher Edwards (now the Vale’s Chief Librarian), admin staff I could depend on and colleagues that were a joy to work with. No two days are the same and it’s impossible to be bored in such a varied job.


However, the Council found a way to burst my bubble. Cuts, cunningly disguised as “savings”. The Mobile Libraries are taken off the road. The schools’ visits were the first to go, all the little village schools out in the Vale, too far from any of our libraries for regular visits – I had arranged it so that all the schools were getting a visit once a fortnight, now there are children in those schools who may never see the inside of a public library. Six months later the public visits stopped – the Care Homes and playgroups we visited, the tiny villages, farms and Home Borrowers. It was devastating. I had already set up a Home Library Service using volunteers, so when the Mobiles went we were at least able to continue a service to the Home Borrowers, but as for the rest …

Unfortunately, in the last year, the “V” word has become a contentious issue in the Vale of Glamorgan. A staff and public consultation was carried out in order to identify savings that could be made. The first recommendations that came out of it were for three of the villages to have their libraries turned over to the community. The latest version of this is for all four villages and one of our full-time branches to be volunteer-run. Coupled with this, various posts look set to be discontinued, including my own, though we have to go through a second round of consultations first.

This has understandably led to very low staff morale across the board. At 57, I’m not ready to retire. I know I have been very lucky in my working life; I’ve often been in the right place at the right time for advancement and have always made the best of things, keeping myself busy, taking on a variety of new projects in order to keep my job interesting.

I’m not sure I’d recommend public librarianship as a career to anyone these days, though, and certainly not by the circuitous route I took! The money’s not that good, your status within Local Government is continually being eroded and while we are supposed to be responsive to the needs of the public, we increasingly have to devise ways of making money – service to the community seemingly taking second place to profit. That’s not my sort of library service.

Friday, 21 November 2014

8 - Gemma Southgate, Cardiff University

This week we hear from Gemma, senior library and IT assistant at Cardiff University.



I started my career in the library and information sector five years ago. I worked as a supply library assistant for Caerphilly County Borough Council, filling in for staff sickness, training and holidays on a part time basis for over two years. I loved working in all 19 branch libraries across the county, working with a different team and in a different community each day. I did a two week work placement at the Nursing and Healthcare Studies library at Cardiff University in 2010 which helped me get a permanent position as a library assistant at the University. I worked a variety of shift patterns including an evening and weekend library supervisor post before settling into my current full time role.


My current role as a senior library assistant and IT support assistant is pretty varied. My typical day is as follows:

10am-1pm - Provide IT support in the morning, help people access the Wi-Fi, scan documents, change passwords and anything else that comes up. Tweet from our library account and reply to any questions on there and answer queries on our virtual librarian chat service. Work on any marketing campaign we might have or create displays to promote our stock and services.


2pm-6pm - Work on the issue counter, returning and issuing books and dealing with queries. Send books to other libraries as part of the inter library loans service. Attend meetings of the working groups I'm part of such as the Marketing Group and Staff Development and Engagement group. Handover to evening staff at 5pm, filling them in on what needs to be done and any information that is important.


I particularly enjoy the marketing aspects of my job especially connecting with our users on Twitter, helping to organise events such as our upcoming ‘Shakespeare @ 450’ week with a full programme of events and displays across campus. I’m also a part-time blogger and like to use skills I’ve picked up through this in my day job, I have presented at CLIC events and internally about how to use blogging to promote your library service. I am going to be holding a workshop at the University of South Wales to help English students explore the idea of digital literacy and show them how they can use blogging as part of their creative writing module. I was also part of the organising team for the first Library Camp Wales (we had such a lively and varied day) and spoke about this event and how to plan an ‘un-conference’ with the other organisers at the CILIP Cymru Wales conference this year.


I’m currently in the process of finding a Chartership mentor and considering a postgraduate distance learning course like the Diploma in Information and Library Studies. I hope that my future lies in library management rather than professional librarianship because I enjoy training new staff and helping to resolve problems as a frontline member of library staff.



Friday, 14 November 2014

7 - Bethan Lee, Neath Port Talbot

Our latest post is from Bethan, who works for Neath Port Talbot public libraries as Systems ICT and Development Officer.

I don’t remember ever saying as a child, “I want to be a librarian when I grow up!” I don’t think I had a clear view of what I wanted for my future, even after finishing my degree in History. I came back home to Wales, after spending 3 years living just outside London, and spent the best part of a year, trying to work out what I wanted to do with my future professional life. After spending nine months working behind the bar of my local pub, and having several interviews for pub management companies, a conversation with a family friend led me to start thinking about a completely different career path – librarianship.

My friend had completed her MSc Econ in Information and Library Studies from University of Wales, Aberystwyth and had gotten, what seemed to me, a dream job working in a public school in Barnes, London. She absolutely loved her job and sold to me all the positives about becoming a librarian and the merits of the course in Aberystwyth. In the August of 2000, she asked me to accompany her to visit her old tutors at the campus in Llanbardarn Fawr to have a chat and before I knew it, I had applied and been accepted on to the course for September. From pub management to librarianship in one year!

Throughout the course, I realised my heart seemed to lie in public libraries, particularly working with children, and it was within that field that I decided to apply for jobs when I completed my course – this was at a time when the job adverts in the Library Association Record filled about 20 pages! By this time, I had decided to stay in Wales (mainly because I had met my husband-to-be), so when I saw an advert for a community librarian working in Caerphilly County Borough Council, I knew that I had to apply for it and thankfully, got one of three posts.

I started my first professional post in October 2001 and it was a steep learning curve for me. Although university is great at theory, you don’t learn properly about the profession until you start work. I learnt quickly to listen to my older and wiser colleagues, who taught me everything from stock editing to storytelling. As a community librarian, I was professionally responsible for 4 libraries, and it was my role to select stock (on a rota with 3 others) for 8 libraries, stock edit my libraries, and go out into schools and the community to promote the library service. My time in Caerphilly also saw the roll out of The People’s Network in to libraries, which quickly became an area that I was interested in and led me to my next and current position in Neath Port Talbot Libraries.

I started my current position in NPT Libraries in October 2005 and I have been here for nearly 9 years. When I first started my role, my duties were mainly around being the system administrator for our library management system and PC booking system, liaising between libraries and the IT department as far as the purchase and maintenance of IT equipment in libraries was concerned and  maintaining the libraries’ web presence. Over the years, although I am still responsible for those things, my job has changed and evolved, due to retirements and the deleting of senior posts within our library service. My job title has changed from Cultural Services Officer – Support Services (what did that even mean?) to Systems ICT and Development Officer - the development bit means that I can get involved in nearly everything and anything!

I am currently working on several projects for the library service and during a typical working day, I could be dealing with any one of them. To give a flavour of some of things I am involved in, here is what I have been and will be working on this week.

  • Work with IT department and surveyors to draw up an electrical and data plan for the refurbishment of one of our libraries 
  • Arrange for the installation of RFID into the above library. 
  • Prepare for and lead two Technoclubs in primary schools and libraries. (Technoclubs is a project where library staff lead afterschool clubs teaching children elements of computer science, using programmes like Scratch, Hopscotch and equipment such as Lego Mindstorm robots) 
  • Work with corporate communications team to redesign the layout and content of libraries’ website 
  • Continue with set-up of stock selection management tool for adult fiction selection 
  • Select large print and spoken word stock at showroom event 
  • Run and present statistics for the Ebooks for Wales and E-zines for Wales services, which will be sent to all library authorities in Wales 
  • Set up meeting with regional managers of Job Centre Plus to discuss the on-going projects in Neath and Port Talbot Libraries, with the view to expanding into other libraries 
  • Attend libraries’ senior management meeting 
  • Work out and enter new stock rotation patterns into our library management system for large print stock. 
  • Solve the on-going problem with mobile libraries’ data downloads with Information Security. 
  • Deal with queries from volunteers from our community libraries. 


There are some duties that I try and do every day without fail, such as checking and updating our libraries’ Twitter feed and Facebook pages. I also love to get involved with promoting the library service, whether it is at a job fair or at a fairy tale children’s event (hence the green fairy photo!).

I do enjoy my job on most days (we all have bad days occasionally) - what I do is different every day and for the most part, never boring. Best bit of working for public libraries though – enough books to satisfy even my appetite for reading!

Friday, 7 November 2014

6 - Karen Morrisroe, Wrexham Library

This weeks post is from Karen Morrisroe, Businessline Librarian at Wrexham Library, for the English language version please scroll down.

Felly dwi’n llyfrgellydd. Doeddwn i erioed wedi meddwl bod yn llyfrgellydd. Wnes i waith achlysurol mewn llyfrgell gyhoeddus pan oeddwn i’n fyfyrwraig a doedd hynny ddim hyd yn oed yn cynnwys stampio llyfrau! Roeddwn i’n gweithio ar stondin wybodaeth adnoddau addysg oedolion yn rheolaidd.  Ar ôl gorffen fy ngradd rheolaeth fusnes daeth swydd dros dro i fyny yn y llyfrgell fusnes fel cymhorthydd llyfrgell yn llenwi mewn i rywun oedd ar secondiad. Gan ei bod yn llyfrgell arbenigol yn fy maes diddordeb a gwybodaeth, wnes i ymgeisio am y swydd ac fe gefais y swydd. Ar ôl bron i ddwy flynedd daeth y swydd i ben a symudais ymlaen. Fodd bynnag, daeth y swydd yn wag ac yn barhaol felly wnes i ymgeisio a chefais y swydd. Dyma pryd wnes i benderfynu astudio gradd ôl-raddedig mewn Astudiaethau Llyfrgell a Gwybodaeth. Wnes i astudio o bell trwy Brifysgol Aberystwyth. Roedd yn her tra’n gweithio’n llawn amser ond roedd yn cynnig llawer o foddhad yn y diwedd. Fe arweiniodd y cymhwyster hwnnw at gael swydd fy mhennaeth pan wnaeth hi adael a dyma fy swydd nawr – Llyfrgellydd Llinell Fusnes.


Mae fy swydd wedi datblygu ac ehangu dros y blynyddoedd er bod teitl y swydd yr un fath. Dwi’n rheoli’r llyfrgell fusnes (Llinell Fusnes), y gwasanaeth gwybodaeth Ewropeaidd (Europe Direct) a hefyd â rhywfaint o gyfrifoldeb am y llyfrgell cyfeirnod. Mae pob diwrnod yn wahanol.  Cymerwch heddiw er enghraifft. Bore heddiw dwi di ateb ambell ymholiad busnes gan bobl oedd angen gwybodaeth i sefydlu busnes, dwi di siarad gyda phobl yn holi am swydd wag yma, wedi rhoi ambell beth ar y cyfrwng cymdeithasol a’r pnawn yma dwi’n mynd i ddigwyddiad yn y gymuned i weithio ar stondin wybodaeth i ddosbarthu gwybodaeth am Ewrop. Fory byddaf yn gwneud y cyfrifon, yn paratoi adroddiadau ar weithgareddau’r gwasanaethau dwi’n eu rheoli, yn ogystal â gwasanaethu aelodau’r cyhoedd sydd ag ymholiadau sylfaenol a rhai cymhleth iawn. Fel y gwelwch mae’n swydd amrywiol iawn. Nid yn unig mae angen sgiliau mewn gwaith gwybodaeth i allu dod o hyd i wybodaeth, penderfynu ar ansawdd a storio gwybodaeth ond hefyd mae angen sgiliau eraill o fewn cyllid, cyllideb, llunio adroddiadau, marchnata a rheoli staff, er nad yw pob swydd angen y rhain ac rydych yn dysgu llawer tra’n gwneud y gwaith.

Yr hyn dwi’n ei fwynhau am y swydd yw’r amrywiaeth. Rydych yn cyfarfod cymaint o bobl ac yn aml ddim yn sylweddoli faint rydych wedi helpu rhywun  gyda’r hyn sydd i chi yn ymateb cyflym a hawdd ond i’r cwsmer mae’n llawer mwy. Llawer gwaith dwi wedi rhoi gwybodaeth i fusnes sydd wedi’u helpu i ennill contractau ac felly’n darparu refeniw i’r busnes. Mae gweld pobl yn dechrau mewn busnes o beidio gwybod lle i fynd am help i ddechrau a datblygu eu busnes yn hwb gwirioneddol. Dwi’n mwynhau’r gwaith yn y dirgel hefyd – cynllunio, adrodd ac ia, hyd yn oed cyllidebu. (dwi’n hoffi ystadegau a rhifau!)


Ar hyn o bryd, dwi’n gweithio tuag at fy Siarteriaeth. Wnes i ei ohirio am amser maith, ond bellach dwi di dechrau mae’n gwneud i mi sylweddoli bod yna lawer mwy y tu hwnt i fy swydd a fy sefydliad. Mae bron fel astudio eto, rydych yn ymwybodol o bopeth arall sy’n mynd ymlaen yn y sector y gallwch ddysgu ohono a’i ddatblygu o fewn eich sefydliad eich hun.

I unrhyw un sy’n ystyried gyrfa o fewn y sector llyfrgell a gwybodaeth mae’n syniad da cael profiad gwaith yn y maes efallai fel cymhorthydd llyfrgell. Gall hyn fod fel gwirfoddolwr, swydd achlysurol neu unrhyw beth arall. Fyddwch chi ddim yn cael teimlad o bopeth ond bydd yn agor eich llygaid ychydig a gallwch siarad gyda staff eraill i weld beth maen nhw’n ei wneud. Byddwn yn awgrymu bod myfyriwr da yn llyfrgellydd da gan fod myfyrwyr wedi arfer ymchwilio a threfnu felly dylai’r rhan honno o swydd llyfrgellydd fod yn ail natur. Er ei bod yn ddefnyddiol cael sgiliau eraill.  Mae llawer o lyfrgellwyr rwyf wedi eu cyfarfod yn debyg i mi, wnaethon nhw ddim gwneud cwrs llyfrgellydd i ddechrau, wnaethon nhw rywbeth arall fel hanes neu Saesneg ac yna symud i lyfrgelloedd. Os ydych yn mynd i swydd lle mae yna arbenigedd fel llyfrgell cwmni’r gyfraith mae gwybodaeth am y gyfraith yn ddefnyddiol. Os ydych yn mynd i lyfrgelloedd cyhoeddus gall rhywun ofyn unrhyw beth i chi felly mae staff o wahanol gefndiroedd yn ddefnyddiol. Mae llawer o bobl hefyd yn meddwl am weithio mewn llyfrgell fel gweithio mewn llyfrgell gyhoeddus neu lyfrgell mewn prifysgol ond ond mae yna lawer mwy ac nid sefydliadau llyfrgell draddodiadol yn unig chwaith. Felly i unrhyw un â diddordeb edrychwch yn lle gall sgiliau llyfrgellwyr gael eu defnyddio, cewch eich synnu.  


Dwi’n meddwl ein bod i gyd angen cofio yn yr oes ddigidol bod yna le yn dal i fod i staff gwybodaeth cymwys. Gall unrhyw un ddefnyddio Google, ond mae sut maent yn ei ddefnyddio a pha un a ydynt yn dadansoddi’r tudalennau yn fater arall. Mae hyd yn oed sôn am Google fel petai’r unig ffordd i ddod o hyd i rywbeth ar lein yn rhywbeth yr ydym yn ei wneud trwy’r amser ond mae yna declynnau eraill sy’n fwy addas ar gyfer gwybodaeth benodol. Eto mae llyfrgellydd hyfforddedig yn gwybod am y pethau hyn, neu â mynediad i gronfa ddata sy’n ddrud iawn. Maent hefyd yn gwybod lle i fynd i gael gwybodaeth am destunau arbennig boed hynny ar lein neu mewn llyfr (ia dyna ddywedais i....llyfr!) Credwch neu beidio mae yna rai pethau nad ydynt ar lein eto, yn dibynnu ar beth rydych yn chwilio amdano weithiau dim ond llyfr fydd yn gwneud, hynny ydy, nes bydd pob llyfr a gynhyrchwyd yn mynd yn ddigidol!


So I’m a librarian. I never set out to be a librarian. I did some casual work at a public library when I was a student and that didn’t even involve stamping books! I regularly manned an information stand about adult education resources. After I finished my business management degree a temporary job came up in the business library as a library assistant covering for someone on secondment. As it was a specialist library in my field of interest and knowledge I applied for the job and got it. After nearly two years the job ended and I moved on. However the job became vacant and permanent so I applied and got it. It was at this point I decided to do a postgraduate degree in Information and Library Studies. I did it via distance learning through Aberystwyth University. It was challenging to do whilst working full time but it was very rewarding in the end.  That qualification then led me to get my boss’ job when she left and it is the job I hold now – Businessline Librarian.

My job developed and expanded over the years even though my job title hasn’t. I manage the business library (Businessline) the European information service (Europe Direct) and also have some responsibility for the reference library. No two days are the same. Take today for instance. This morning I have answered a few business enquiries from people needing information to set up their business, I’ve talked to people enquiring about a job vacancy I have here, posted a few things on social media and this afternoon I am going to a community event to man an information stand giving out information about Europe. Tomorrow I will be doing my accounts, preparing reports on the activities of the services I manage, as well as serving members of the public who have both basic enquiries and very complex ones. As you can see it is a very varied job. Not only do you need skills in information work to be able to find information, determine its quality and to store information but you also need other skills in terms of finance, budgeting, producing reports, marketing and managing staff, though not all jobs require these and you learn a lot whilst doing the job.

What I love about the job is it’s variety. You meet so many people and often you don’t realise just how much you have helped someone with what to you is a quick and easy reply but to the customer it is so much more. Many times I have provided information to a business which has helped them win contracts thereby providing revenue for the business. Seeing people start in business from not knowing where to go for help to then starting and growing their business is a real boost. I also really like the behind the scenes parts of the job – planning, reporting and, yes, even budgeting. (I like stats and numbers!)


At the moment I am working towards my Chartership. I put it off for a long time but now I have started it makes me realise that there is so much more beyond my role and my organisation. It’s almost like studying again, you become aware of everything else that is going on in the sector which you can learn from and put into place in your own organisation.

For anyone considering a career in the library and information sector it’s a good idea to get experience of working in the field perhaps as a library assistant. This could be as a volunteer, a casual job or anything else. You won’t get a feel for everything involved but it will open your eyes a bit and you can talk to other staff to see what they are doing.  I would suggest that a good student is a good librarian as students are used to researching and organising so that part of a librarian’s job should be second nature. Though it is useful to have other skills and knowledge. Many librarians I have met are like me in that they didn’t do a library course first, they did something else such as history or English and then got into libraries. If you are going into a role where there is a specialism such as a law firm’s library then a knowledge of law is useful. If you go into public libraries you can get asked anything so varied backgrounds of staff are useful. Many people also just think of working in a library as working in a public library or a Uni library but there is so much more and not just traditional library settings either. So to anyone interested have a look at where librarians skills can be used, you may be surprised.


I think we all need to remember though that in the digital age there is still a place for qualified information staff. Anyone can use Google, but how they use it and whether they analyse the pages they get is another matter. Even just mentioning Google as if it is the only way to find anything online is something we all do but there are other tools which are better suited for particular information. Again a trained librarian knows about these things, or has access to databases which cost a lot of money. They also know where to go for information on particular topics be that online or in a book (yes I said it.. a book!). Believe it or not some things aren’t online yet, depending on what you’re looking for sometimes only a book will do, that is, until every book ever produced is digitised!




Friday, 31 October 2014

5 - Helen Blockwell, Cardiff Metropolitan University

Our latest blog is from Helen Blockwell, Sport Librarian and Library Website guru (!) at Cardiff Metropolitan University in Cardiff.

I loved reading as a kid.  I read anything and everything - books, cereal packets, road signs, Bunty. Saying that, I never considered librarianship as a profession until I was violently thrust, post-graduation (BA Hons English, Swansea Uni, but that’s not important) into the cruel world of temping in London.  Following a lengthy assignment washing bottles at the blacking factory (or was that someone else…) I needed to make a decision regarding my future employment.  During two very different temping assignments – one in a skyscraper with a team of extremely rude lawyers, the other with the lovely Quakers at Friends House – I met two very different librarians and thought “I could do that”.


After brief spells at the Financial Services Authority and University of Wales, Newport, I joined Cardiff Metropolitan University (formerly known as UWIC) and I’ve been based in the library at the Cyncoed Campus for the last 11 years, during which time I gained my MSc in Library and Information Studies from Aberystwyth.

My job title is Information Advisor - I’m not entirely sure what it means but the ambiguity of it has meant that I’ve been able to do different things within my role. It doesn’t make it easy to explain what I do at dinner parties but that’s ok because I don’t go to dinner parties (my daughter is 3…the closest I get to dinner parties is when she feeds me plastic fruit).

I am the subject librarian for the prestigious Cardiff School of Sport, a role that I share with my colleague Lynette.  I do sport, she does dance - that’s areas of responsibility, not what we do for fun.  I liaise with academics (a terrible phrase that makes me sound like a hanger-on at parties) and I look after the budget to try and meet the needs of a burgeoning cohort of resource-hungry students. A substantial part of the budget is spent on electronic material with ebook usage being particularly high amongst sport students.  So where once we just had to work out the amount of print copies needed to meet demand (I still do this where there’s no ebook available, c’mon publishers, stop making it so hard!) now it’s become vitally important that any reading list material that is available as an ebook is purchased in that format.  Our recent NSS results show that sport students rate the library service highly so we’re doing something right.


When I’m not being a subject librarian I am the library representative on our Library & Information Services Web Group. We're responsible for our website.  My work involves development of the site and overseeing the content - ensuring accuracy, currency etc and any other queries or requests for things that come up. The library division have supported my role in this by paying for me to do a web design course where I learnt to use CSS, HTML, Photoshop, and basic principles of web design.  I’ve also had web writing training and SharePoint Designer (we use SharePoint as our web content management system).  We've a lot of work coming up in the next few months – we’re recreating the site on the new version of SharePoint and then we’re going public access (it’s currently only available to Cardiff Met staff and students).  It’s very exciting but it’s going to be a busy time – I’ve drawn up a site map to help us get a grip on the navigation and content that currently exists and now I’m working on publishing guidelines for the new site.  I think it’s great that we have a merged service (Library and IT) at Cardiff Met because I can learn from people who are not librarians and it gives you a wider perspective on things.

I like my job because it’s varied and I’m not micro-managed. I’m allowed to manage my own time and workload and so if I chose to spend a morning editing a web page and then the afternoon on collection management (a.k.a chucking stuff out) then that’s what I’ll do   Sometimes I feel like I’m juggling my time and I know the next few months will be particularly mad and demanding (as the Autumn term always is) but I’d hate it if I didn’t have enough to do.  I love working in Cyncoed – I can see plenty of green out of the windows (although the ventilation in said windows is pretty suspect and it’ll be freezing soon) and the people I work with are a genuinely nice bunch, which always helps!


So what would I say to someone considering a career as librarianship? Well (and this is just my opinion so feel free to ignore me if it seems controversial) forget any ideas of lurking in the shelves with your head buried in a dusty book.  The best librarians I know are practical, business-like and outspoken and have varied talents that they bring to the role.  And, importantly, at the end of the day they go home and stop being a librarian because it’s a job, plain and simple, not a personality trait.

I cringe when I read things about librarians being so much better than Google because Google is motivated by money.   Let’s be honest - I wouldn’t come to work if they weren’t paying me and I use Google all the time.  Admittedly I also know how to use a selection of databases depending on what my query is but that doesn’t make me a magician.  I like helping people, tinkering with things and spending money and I get to do some of that every day and that’s good enough for me.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

4 - Louisa Yates, Gladstone's Library

This week's post is from Louisa Yates, Director of Collections and Research at Gladstone's Library in Flintshire, the UK's only residential library.
Like others who have blogged for the 23 Librarians project, I’m not a librarian. In 2008 I was finishing an MA in English and wondering what to do with my life. I’d applied for PhD funding but that was a one-in-a-million chance and so I needed to get practical. Like any good research student I made a list of all the places that I thought I’d like to work. A distinct theme emerged: publishing, an archive of ‘something old’, museums, charities, libraries, universities. I wanted to write books and read books and talk to other people about books (preferably reclining on some books while I did so). So, books.
Then the million to one chance actually happened. I got the funding, stopped thinking about the outside world and spent four years writing a book of sorts about neo-Victorian novels.
Four years later I emerged with a doctorate and still no idea what I should do. I was lecturing part-time at two universities in the North-West. Talking about books was wonderful but neither were the Proper Job that a Grown-Up should have. But this was 2011. The cold realities of the economic climate meant that Proper Jobs were in short supply. Where on earth was I going to find a job that combined books, a love of neo-Victorianism, a desire to extend education beyond of the university sphere and a wish for variety?
Well, since 2012 I have been Director of Collections and Research at Gladstone’s Library. It’s the only Prime Ministerial library in the UK. Even more excitingly, it’s the only residential library in the world (well, we’ve not found another yet). People come from all over the world to read and think while staying here. Established in 1889 by Victorian Prime Minister and legendary bibliophile William Gladstone, St. Deiniol’s – we became Gladstone’s Library in 2010 – has nearly 200,000 printed items and nearly 250,000 manuscript letters. That number includes several distinctive collections, including the Glynne collection of pre-1800 works and the recently donated archive of the Crime Writers Association. The largest of our collections is probably the Glynne-Gladstone archive, a 250,000-stong collection of letters, diaries, sketchbooks and all the wonderfully varied ephemera produced by a large tight-knit family while at home and away.
The main collection is housed in two large two-storey reading rooms and ranges through theology, politics, history and literature with a bit of everything else thrown in along the way. Post-Victorian acquisition decisions are inspired by the Foundation Collection, Gladstone’s original donation of the 32,000 volumes that comprised his personal library and represent a lifetime’s collecting.  Often annotated, Gladstone’s books show a mind keenly preoccupied with almost every aspect of the world in which it found itself as well as the historical precedents that shaped it. Space forbids us from faithfully collecting in every area (we no longer collect law texts, for example) but our aim is to collect and curate a contemporary version of Gladstone’s preoccupations and interests.

Interviewing Francesca Haig, author of The Fire Sermon, as part of Gladfest 2014. I’m on the right!
As for a typical day, I don’t think I can describe it! We’re a small, tight-knit team who run a library that is also a place to stay, eat and talk. Every day is different. But I can mention a few of the things that the library team focus on most:
1.    Talking (and its close cousin, emailing). We spend a lot of our time simply talking to people about the library and what they could do here. Meetings, presentations, daily glimpses of the library, helping work experience students, organising group visits. We learn so much from our users. I recently spent twenty minutes discussing a recent PhD student’s thesis ideas; he might well be helping us with our new acquisitions in the future. I’m director of Gladfest, the library’s short-lived but hugely-popular literary festival – at the moment I seem to talk about nothing else!
2.    Access. Like all libraries, we work hard to facilitate people’s access to the collections. A typical day might see us induct several new members and help other users find books. We’ll work on the catalogue, review our usage figures and decide which new books to buy. Particular to my role is liaising with universities, research councils, academics and postgraduate students to facilitate their research projects and how we might obtain research funding in the future. Much less glamorously, there is also the daily wrestle with the photocopier (is there a library in the world that doesn’t have an uncooperative copier?)
3.    Digital. If people cannot get to us, or perhaps can only visit every once in a while, that’s fine. We do a large part of our talking via social media. A lot of the library’s arts programming, such as our Writer in Residence scheme, is promoted online. Always popular are our tweeted pictures of books @gladlib. Nineteenth-century engraved plates are irresistibly beautiful – they demand to be shared worldwide. More formal digital solutions also fall under my remit. We’re currently working to develop our library catalogue so that users can log in, save searches, and email book lists to themselves. The Library’s Warden, Peter Francis, just wandered into my office and asked if the catalogue can host audio files…
4.    Learning. The books on the shelves underpin a host of programmes designed to encourage people into the library – and once there, to think about what they find, share what they read and perhaps even produce writing of their own.  We’ve run courses on writing, reading, fiction, and film. Archbishops have talked about poets; poets have talked about Chartists; we’ve all talked about reading, writing and thinking. Twice a year I co-direct the Gladstone Centre, a consortium of people interested in Victorian studies from across the North-West.
5.    Collaboration. Alongside Gladfest, the major project occupying my time at the moment is the Victorian Lives and Letters Consortium. While in the very early stages, this promises to be a truly unique approach to digital access.  In practical terms, this means we have to get on with cataloguing tens of thousands of letters ready for scanning! I’ve had to be quite inventive with this, drawing on all my research experience and talking to a wide range of people in order to develop metadata capture techniques that suit our collection. I’ve also recently been elected to the committee of the Association of Independent Libraries, a group of libraries who face many of the same challenges and relish many of the same freedoms as we do.
You can probably tell that I love my job. It’s great. Even though I’ve written about my job history, and my job experience, I’ve noticed that information studies is a career that seems particularly engaging to those of us with varied career backgrounds and a mixed bag of qualifications. Hurrah, I say!

Friday, 17 October 2014

3 - Kathryn Parry, Rhyl Library

Our third post is from Kathryn Parry a library assistant at Rhyl Public Library and student at Aberystwyth University.

I stumbled into the public library profession. With hindsight, I suppose the signs were there. Moving around as a child (my Dad was in the RAF), books and libraries were a constant distraction. I can remember being lost in fiction, and the decision to move from children’s fiction to adult, starting at A with Jeffery Archer is still etched on my mind. When we settled down in Shropshire I could walk to Shifnal library myself and loved the regular family visits to the much larger Telford branch. Then exams took over. The serious studying began, and after University, where I studied History and Theology (influenced by Indiana Jones and the Blists Hill Museum) I somehow ended up working in retail.

I am definitely a ‘people person’ and in my efforts to do my best and keep people happy I realised that working in retail may not be best for me. I wanted a job with more soul. Not quite getting soul, I became pregnant -with twins. That was it, for the first seven years of their lives I stayed at home with our daughters (author that kept me sane whilst daughters were in SCBU – Barbara Erskine). Then my husband and I decided that we needed another income. Cue advert in the local paper for a part time assistant job at Rhyl Library. This was seven years ago. I’m now a full time Library Assistant and second to my first job, working in a local newsagents ‘Janet Shaw’s’, this is the best job I've had.

Working in a public library means you need to be prepared for anything. Rhyl Library is one of the bigger branches in Denbighshire and the daily jobs such as; serving customers; unpacking the van and tagging items; ringing/emailing requests; finding shelf checks; shelving and putting stock in order; are divided up hourly between all of us. We all have individual areas of responsibility. I like to keep an eye on our Reserve, which holds non-fiction in a store building out the back of the main library and request books for our reading groups. I also enjoy filling Askews and Holt baskets with glorious stock that I think will issue well, and get stuck in with a local primary school that is fortunate to visit regularly. In my locker you will find various props that I like to use. Mrs Twits crocheted glass eye, Mr Twits messy (crocheted) beard, a water pistol for Red Riding Hood, and a copy of ‘The Cat In The Hat’ by Dr Seuss, are all part of my standby kit. Nothing beats the enthusiastic responses of children, and indeed adults, when you have found them the book or information that they needed.
Mr Twit costume!

An integral part of the job is now keeping abreast of the new technology, and helping people gain confidence with it. There are a large proportion of people who need help sending their first email, scanning a document, or printing off their holiday boarding passes. Internet access is free when you are a library member and the computers are used for both social reasons and for seeking employment. With access to wi-fi we also need to be able to help the public log on, using a variety of devices and encourage use of our online services. It is not uncommon to hear a work experience person remark that they didn't realise how much the staff do!

I passionately believe in the ethos that libraries are for everyone, regardless of their personal situation. Where else can you go and just sit? Whatever the weather? Interact as much or as little as you want, without even having to buy a cup of coffee? (Incidentally we do have a cafe and art gallery, and small museum on site should you ever be in the area.) This openness is one of the libraries biggest assets. We have regular visitors who meet up and read papers, who’ll sit by the
windows, never taking a book out or using the internet. Customers of routine only acknowledged by the counter on the front door, where would they go otherwise?

In this climate of uncertainty regarding public libraries I am interested in how our Library Service will be shaped in the future. So this year I have started studying for an MA in Information and Library Studies, distance learning with Aberystwyth University. Pretty daunting for someone whose brain has been taken over by twins and craft (yes I am an obsessive crafter – I made The Twit props) for so long! Whilst my courage/momentum is high I've joined CILIP and put my name down for the New Professionals Day in London this October. Hey I’m even writing this!

My advice to anyone wanting to work in a public library is – have a sense of humour, don’t take all the toilet issues to heart, (I have been trying not to refer to this dark side of the job, but it is there) you must like people. You will deal with, and help all kinds of people, all ages. Listen to people and don’t be scared of trying new things.

I’m not sure what the future will hold for me, but I am sure I have found a job with soul. Even when I’m not in work I want to visit other libraries and meet like-minded people. That must be a good sign, right?

Friday, 10 October 2014

2 - Erika Neck, Rhondda Cynon Taff

Our second post is from Erika, who works with mobile libraries in the Rhondda Cynon Taff, in the South Wales Valleys.

Hi, my name is Erika Neck and I am now a Senior Librarian for Mobiles and Community Services. I am based in Rhondda Cynon Taff and our services cover the whole of that area too.

My route in to the library service was later in life. When I left school I did a lot of temp work in various offices, but in 2000 after being made redundant twice in one year, (not fun!) I decided to go to University to get a degree to improve my job prospects. Whilst in University I went to my local library to learn Sign Language, realised that I would like to work in a library.

I was fortunate enough that a part time post became available locally covering Saturdays and evenings so I could continue my studies. Over the next few years I had various opportunities to move around within our branch libraries and loved every minute of it. Every day is different in public library work; you get the unusual requests which require a bit of investigative work to find the information needed and helping people on the computers with applying for jobs and just navigating their way around, whilst some people just like to come in for a chat and to meet people.

I have driven a mobile library for many years and it was whilst doing this that I wanted to get qualified in library studies so I enrolled at Aberystwyth University for my Postgraduate degree through distance learning. This was tough to fit in around work and my life but I eventually qualified this year 2014.

My current role is a recent post into more of a managerial role. I am now responsible for organising our 4 mobile libraries and our housebound and community services. It’s a very challenging and different to the jobs I have been used to as it’s less public facing and more organising staff and liaising with community groups and people with various needs.

A typical day for me starts about 8.30 am when the mobile drivers arrive and I am there in case of any problems with the vehicles or any staffing issues.
9.30 am Once the drivers have gone out for the day I then deal with any correspondence and emails.
10.30 am Go to visit some new Housebound people to arrange to put them onto our service and explain our housebound delivery system to them. This part of the job is great as you can see the relief on people who are too elderly or ill to leave their homes to get books, but still love to read.
12 noon Lunch Time!
1 pm Attendance at a Disability Officer’s Forum to see what advice or assistance the library service can provide to other Council departments. Examples include; explaining our community rooms; attendance at events; providing people with information on groups and activities in our libraries to help those who are socially isolated.
3 pm: Our mobile library drivers are over 2 sites, so I would then drive to our other site to see if they had any problems at the end of their day. Also, due to restructuring we have a new evening and weekend driver and I check to make sure he is OK with what he has to do, and if he
needs any further training or arrange for him to attend courses.
End of day around 5 pm.

I am now a member of CILIP and if anyone is thinking of going into library work of any nature I would say you have to be helpful, friendly, polite and have a positive attitude. Be able to deal with people from all walks of life and if you love variety in your job then you will love public libraries! They are a great place to help people enjoy reading, improve their minds or just to provide a social space to meet new people. The job has gotten more technical and we regularly help people to get online and provide assistance to those who need it to apply for jobs or benefits, but overall I love my job and could never imagine working anywhere else than libraries, in whatever form they are.

Friday, 3 October 2014

1 - Liz Chester, Coleg Sir Gâr

Welcome to 23 Llyfrgellydd, our first post is from Liz Chester who works at Coleg Sir Gâr a college of further and higher education based in Carmarthenshire.

As a student at Oxford Polytechnic in the 1980’s, working on my dissertation about a Victorian stained glass designer, I took root on a random floor of the Bodleian Library. Books moved up and down in dumb waiter style lifts and were distributed about the building to waiting readers like me.

This was my first ‘serious’ use of a library other than visits to the mobile that pulled up outside my rural junior school in the 1970s.
On graduation I was ‘drawn to’ and was somewhat keen to get through my interview for the post of Reading Room Assistant in the Library at the Ashmolean Museum. I wish I still had the job description - it might make a good reference point for how things have changed in library work since then. I was lucky enough to get the job –and what a lovely time I had – a small team, a strong hierarchy and yet great equality - all shelving together first thing in the morning – and much humour as we strived to meet the book and photocopying needs of university lecturers and post grad students.

A move to West Wales in 1988 - found me facing an interview panel of 7 - in the days when as a woman you could be asked if and when you planned to have children! Luckily I didn’t growl, got the job and moved into Further Ed. - my working home since.

My working life is varied, vivid, busy and an absolute joy. It necessitates (or has it created?) a bit of a butterfly brain moving from one topic to another; emails, phone calls, ordering, visiting classes, discussing technical issues with the IT department, working with learners to encourage appropriate behaviour in a space that offers a haven to HE learners, learners with mild to moderate learning disabilities, those studying plumbing, child care, carpentry and more.

My working day depends on the time of year – FE librarianship has seasonal variation in tasks!  Let’s take for example, September 30th 2014: We can start at about 3 am! I happened to be awake and it came to mind that our Level 1 Childcare group have been using the library so well since the start of term that it would good to deliver one of the college ‘Excellence’ cards to them. So, note to self for first action of the day and back to sleep!

As I arrive at work the following morning I open the door and a couple of learners follow me in – it’s 8.20 am. Check the diary for the activities ahead and say good morning to my colleague. We are still meeting and greeting as it is only a few weeks in from the start of term. First task is to write and deliver the ‘Excellence’ card, so a quick visit to the Childcare Department followed by letting the staff member who updates the library Twitter account know - as it would be nice for the group to have a mention there too.  My next task is to welcome back Level 3 plumbers, issuing ID cards and introducing them to an e-book that should help with their studies.  Then, back down the corridor to a class to talk e-resources, upstairs to work with HE learners to set up their access to online resources and back to base.

Some day to day activities run alongside the specific; helping newbies get into the swing of things with the self-serve and with the photocopier, regular telephone and email conversations throughout the day with my line manager and other colleagues about staffing, sickness cover and more (we are a multi campus college with sites throughout Carmarthenshire), reading mail, preparing reservations for learners to collect, keeping an eye on tidiness and general house- keeping.

About 2pm I received a request from a tutor for an e-book - place the order with our supplier – and was delighted to have the URL before the end of the day - one happy tutor! Also placing orders during the day to meet the needs of H.E. reading lists.

Getting close to 5pm and I’m assisting the IT technician to move 12 PCs that are in peril of water damage due to a leaking roof.  Then saying hello to our evening member of staff and spending some time with her working through how to add material to our LMS.  I will be staying on after 5 today as an evening induction is planned - it is important that part-time and evening groups get the same service as those who are with us for longer or during the day.  At 7pm – a happy group of mature Childcare learners arrive and I talk them through what we can offer. The last action of the day is to issue 4 children’s books to a computing class learner who has just started learning Welsh (the first language of a high proportion of our learners in Carmarthenshire). 7.35 pm is shut down systems, lock up and home!

If you are considering a career in Libraryland remember that in the F.E .library world it is imperative that you like people – and not just books! You may be selecting, buying and displaying your wares in the virtual or actual world - but if you don’t want to spend time with your service users showing and telling then it’s not the sector for you.

I love both the continuity and the change and there is plenty of both. The change in service users (you are only as relevant as you make yourself to your current users) and the change in the systems, the technology, the product and the educational setting. Getting between the user and the resource in a digital age is part of what we do. We are redefining our role and marketing to potential service users, users who are realising that library services walk alongside them on their learning journey and the positive impact working with us can make on their achievements.

With a degree in Art History and Anthropology and learning by doing for most of my working life - I came to a point a few years ago when I felt I needed to add some background knowledge to my practice. I opted for distance learning – with Aberystwyth University. What a joy, excellent packs of things to read and do – and a week of study school per year.  I felt supported, worked steadily (with some diversion activities and more cleaning than usual) and obtained an MSc Information and Library Studies - yowser! A nice bit of orange trim on my gown.

Friday, 19 September 2014

About


Ymgais yw 23 Llyfrgellydd i ddangos y swyddi gwahanol sydd i’w cael yn y sector llyfrgelloedd a gwybodaeth yng Nghymru.

Lansiwyd y blog 23 Librarians gwreiddiol yn yr Alban, ac mae’r ddau bellach yn cydredeg. Mae projectau tebyg ar y gweill yn Lloegr a Gogledd Iwerddon.

Caiff y blog ei gyhoeddi yn wythnosol, a bydd yn cynnwys cyfraniadau o bob cwr o Gymru. Os hoffech chi gyfrannu at 23 Llyfrgellydd yn y dyfodol, cysylltwch ag @CLICLibraries.



23 Llyfrgellydd is an attempt to show the variety of roles that exist in the library and information sector in Wales.

The original 23 Librarians blog was established in Scotland and is now running in parallel with our own, similar projects are due for England and Northern Ireland.

Contributions have come from all across Wales, and will be published on a weekly basis. If you think you would like to get involved in the next round of 23 Llyfrgellydd please get in touch with @CLICLibraries.