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Introduction

This paper provides a brief summary of survey results capturing a snapshot of local authorities’ engagement with the National Library for Wales. It is intended to inform WLGA’s input into the Tailored Review of the National Library for Wales.

Method

A short online questionnaire was issued to all local authority chief executives in Wales. This was then disseminated to the relevant officers in each local authority as appropriate. Participation in the survey was voluntary and was conducted out over a two-week period between October and November 2019.

The questionnaire contained a mixture of closed and open-ended questions. It sought to capture:

  • Local authority awareness of the National Library for Wales
  • The types of projects local authorities are engaged in with the National Library for Wales
  • Examples/case studies of engagement activity
  • Local authorities’ aspirations/ideas about future engagement with the National Library for Wales.

Limitation

It is important to note that survey design only focused on capturing a current ‘snapshot’ of local authority engagement with the National Library for Wales. Its findings do not provide a comprehensive analysis of local authority engagement across Wales.

Results and findings

Sample Size

Of the 22 local authorities in Wales, 12 responded – providing a 55% response rate. 100% of respondents indicated that they were aware of National Library’s work. 18% of respondents responded in Welsh. Respondents represented a broad geographic spread from both North and South Wales with a mix of urban and rural demographics.

Types of Engagement Activity

100% of respondents indicated they engaged with the National Library across a range of areas, including in education, art, community, heritage and archives, and project work.

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Other areas of engagement also included:

  • Digital resources such as access to electronic resources such as e-books, e-audio and e-magazines
  • Ancestry facilities
  • Exhibitions and cultural events
  • National broadcasting archives and history
  • Marketing campaigns of the National Library and the public libraries sector in Wales
  • Coordination of digital resources.

Examples of engagement activities

11 of the 12 respondents provided a brief description and examples of their engagement activities with the National Library. Some of these included:

  • Screen and sound archive – providing access to newspaper articles and journals
  • National library exhibitions in local areas
  • Mediatech booth in local library
  • Living Memory Scheme – using this to engage housebound residents and with dementia groups
  • People’s Collection
  • Providing advice and guidance to local authority staff to support the digitization of cassettes and CDs
  • Providing access to digital technologies including laptops
  • Inter-librarian loans and occasional research-based enquiries
  • Emergency planning network
  • NLW acts as the a repository of ancient texts, including the Book of Aneirin
  • NLW provides advice to councils for historic collections

Future engagement with the National Library for Wales

11 out 12 respondents submitted evidence. Feedback about the NLW’s current engagement with local authorities was overwhelmingly positive. It is clear that all the NLW’s activities are valued by local authorities. However, each of the respondents put forward helpful ideas to build on progress and further support any future engagement with the NLW. Some of these included:

  • Strengthen the relationship between the NLW and local authorities. This may help to reduce duplication of effort
  • Professional staff within the organization are a valuable source of expertise who can offer guidance on the delivery of projects including the All-Wales Library Management System. Improve standards through development of national frameworks.
  • Broadening community awareness and knowledge of the NLW’s collection through greater marketing efforts and outreach programmes
  • Greater access to expertise, advice and support, particularly for digitisation and maintaining specialist collections
  • Supporting the development on teaching resources for Welsh history and culture

Further developing the links between national and local exhibitions/facilities

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