Wales Higher Education Libraries Forum

Posted in WHELF

AberLib TeachMeet 2016

This blog post was written by Ellie Downes, graduate trainee at Aberystwyth University:

“The 2016 Aber LibTeachMeet held at Aberystwyth University was a great success. The subject of this get together was How do libraries make you more employable?’ one of the hot button topics face by librarians at the moment. Among the group were HE, public, FE, and NHS librarians, and we discovered we faced similar challenges in each of our sectors.

The LibTeachMeet was opened by Julie Hart, Aberystwyth University Librarian and Deputy Director of Services, who noted the difference between employment and employability within the context of HE skills.

Our first speaker was yours truly, and I spoke on my experiences both as a recent student, and as a library trainee, and how in both cases the library contributes to employability. 

Next up was Anita Saycell, subject librarian, who gave a talk on the resources we have at Aberystwyth to help students keep up to date with industry developments and research companies.

Our third speaker was Síona Murray from Coleg Llandrillo, who gave us an insight into Further Education’s contributions to employability, as well as touching on a range of topics such as Information Literacy, Digital Literacy, and social media skills as employability skills.

Next, Sarah Gwenlan, subject librarian, spoke about Aberystwyth University’s efforts to collaborate Library resources and skills with the Careers Service in our Employabilty group, and developing shared sessions, and discussions were had about the best time in the degree scheme to introduce these lectures to students.

Finally, Joy Cadwallader, subject librarian, gave us a personal case study about how libraries were making people employable back in the 1980s, as libraries have to keep up with new technology, so do our students.
There was plenty of discussion about employability of students but also skills for librarians. Another key point that came up was how to market the library’s involvement and provision of skills, and the issue of ‘presumed knowledge’ with a phrase I particularly enjoyed which is ‘IT confident doesn’t equal IT competent’. We also discussed the importance of collaborating further with careers services to develop joint sessions on skills, and looking for ‘employability champions’ amongst colleagues and academic departments. We also touched on the challenge of finding a good hashtag to promote the value of libraries to employability, which proved to be a difficult one.

I would like to thank everyone who attended and spoke, especially those who took the time to travel to Aber, as well as CILIP for sponsoring this event and helping us provide the lure of lunch and freebies.

All that’s left to say is I’ll be looking forward to Aber LibTeachMeet 2017.”


This event will be run again in North Wales during November 2016.

Posted in employability, events, information literacy

Measuring and monitoring the benefits of a shared LMS

This presentation was delivered by Graham Lee and Michael Lee from Cambridge Econometrics at the recent Gregynog Colloquium. The presentation outlines a Jisc funded project to identify the benefits of a shared LMS; to identify what has been acheived, what the evidence is for this and what can be anticipated in going forward by developing a logic framework. Cambridge Econometrics will provide an independent evaluation and provide a high level of analysis to demonstrate the value of this project to our sector and wider. Workshops as part of the project are to be scheduled for July and September.

Posted in JISC, value, Whelf shared LMS, WHELF Shared LMS blog

UNESCO recognition for one of the National Library of Wales’s treasures

Tuesday evening at the Senedd eight new pieces of documentary heritage were inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World UK Register. The only item from Wales to be included was The Survey of the Manors of Crickhowell & Tretower by Robert Johnson (1587), held at the National Library of Wales.

This survey is a part of the Badminton Collection held in the Library’s Map Collection. Like many other such estate surveys of the period it includes a textual description of the estate, its extent, its properties and tenants; unlike most other surveys this survey also includes a set of maps produced as part of the survey. This is the earliest example of a grand estate atlas designed as a coherent volume of decorative estate maps.

New Blog here

Further information in the press release:

(Thank you to Nia Mai Daniel, Head of Archives and Manuscripts Section, NLW for this information)

Posted in archives & special collections, events Tagged with: ,

WHELF Reps meeting report May 2016

The WHELF Representatives gathered at Gladstone’s Library on 19th-20th May 2016. Attending the meeting were: Sue Hodges (Chair, Bangor), Emma Adamson (U of SW), Kristine Chapman (National Museum Wales – Amgueddfa Cymru), Andrew Dalgleish (U of SW), Ann Davies (OU),  Alison Harding (UWTSD: Carmarthen & Lampeter), Julie Hart (Aberystwyth), Mark Hughes (Swansea), Paul Jeorrett (Wrexham Glyndwr), Manon Foster Evans (NLW),  Aimee Jones (Cardiff Metropolitan),  Janet Peters (Cardiff University), Rachael Whitfield (WDO), Megan Wiley (RWCMD).

Some of the topics under discussion at this meeting were:

WHELF Shared LMS: We are now in the final stages of implementation, progress in Cohort 3 (which consists of Bangor University, Cardiff University, Wrexham Glyndwr University and the Wales NHS libraries) is going well and all sites remain on target to go live on the agreed milestones. However, implementation across the consortium marks whilst a huge achievement in itself marks just the beginning of the process to realise the benefits of a shared LMS. Recognising this, Jisc have agreed to fund a benefits study conducted by Cambridge Econometrics to identify what has been achieved, what the evidence is for this and what can be anticipated in going forward by developing a logic framework. Cambridge Econometrics will provide an independent evaluation and provide a high level of analysis to demonstrate the value of this project to our sector and wider. Workshops as part of the project are to be scheduled for July and September.

International interest in the Shared LMS continues, the Programme Manager for the WHELF Shared LMS, Gareth Owen, recently attended the Academic Librarian 4 Conference in Hong Kong in June to present on the project and nearer to home, Gareth will be speaking at the SCONUL conference this year held in Cardiff, June 23-24th.

WHELF Strategy: WHELF’s existing strategy will be drawing to a close at the end of this academic year and in anticipation of this we have been working on a new strategy for 2016-18 to underpin our activities. Our strategic aims are identified as:

  • Collaboration
  • Collections and Research
  • Engagement

WHELF Reps agreed the draft of the new Strategy and it will be in place for the start of the new academic year. We also took the opportunity to review and update the WHELF Constitution and as part of this have agreed a new meeting schedule of 3 times per year of 1 meeting by videoconference in February and a residential meeting in May and October. The WHELF Officers group will meet 4 times a year via videoconference.

Guest speakers: We welcomed two guests to our meeting, firstly on Thursday 19th May, Alyson Tyler, Senior Libraries Development Adviser for the Museum, Archives and Libraries Division (MALD) of the Welsh Government. Alyson attended as part of MALD’s future library strategy consultation to ask the HE library sector what our priorities are for 2017-20 and how might some of these be acheived. We had a very useful discussion with Alyson and look forward to seeing MALD’s new strategy in due course.

Our second speaker Tom Mowlam, Director of Operations at Ubiquity Press attended on Friday 20th May. Ubiquity Press is an open access publisher of peer reviewed academic journals and books as well as a journal hosting platform. Tom presented to us the different business models that Press offers along with outlining some of the partnerships that they have in operation. Thank you to Tom Mowlam for taking the time to come and visit WHELF and for giving us lots to think about!

Posted in collaboration, news, WHELF, Whelf shared LMS

Resources for librarians supporting RDM

The presentation below details some of the available resources for librarians and researchers to provide guidance on what steps need to be taken when setting up research data management services and which documents are the most useful to consult.

Thank you to by Dr Beth Hall, Academic Support Librarian at Bangor University (with help from Bronwen Blatchford, Cardiff Metropolitan University) for compiling these resources together.

Posted in Blog Grwp Ymchwil, RDM, research, Research group blog, research support Tagged with:

From multiple legacy systems to a single LMS at UWTSD

john dalling


With thanks to John Dalling (Senior Learning Resources Adviser, UWTSD)  for the first of our blog posts from cohort 2.




The University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) was formed in 2010 following the merger of University of Wales Lampeter and Trinity University College Carmarthen.  Swansea Metropolitan University became part of UWTSD in 2013.   The University’s Royal Charter of 1828 is the oldest in Wales.

UWTSD has around 10,000 FTE students.  The University has lending libraries at six separate campuses: Carmarthen, Lampeter, and in Swansea at Mount Pleasant Campus, Townhill Campus, Swansea Business School Campus and the Dynevor Centre for Art, Design and Media.  In addition, the Roderic Bowen Library and Archives at Lampeter campus houses the University’s special collections, and there is a reference library at the University’s international campus in London.  All of these libraries have now moved to the WHELF Shared LMS.

What was your legacy system and what do you have now?

UWTSD Library and Learning Resources have been using a number of legacy systems dating from before the recent mergers.  Carmarthen and Lampeter campuses were previously using the SirsiDynix Horizon LMS along with OCLC’s WorldCat Local discovery platform.  Swansea libraries used the Capita Alto LMS and Serials Solutions Summon discovery service.

As at USW, running separate legacy systems led to problems providing a unified library service, and before our WHELF LMS implementation we had a number of workaround solutions to provide access to different libraries, including forms on our library website to enable students to join the libraries outside of their own campuses.

uwtsd lms

Through the WHELF LMS Project all our libraries moved to the Ex Libris Alma LMS and Primo discovery platform on 1st March 2016.  We have also merged our authentication systems, and moved to a single new EZProxy server on our launch date after previously running separate versions of EZProxy at different campuses.

Describe your implementation

In early 2015 we formed an LMS Project Group to plan ahead for our implementation.  Following the merger we felt that it was important to have equitable representation from our different campuses, and our two Heads of Library and Learning Resources, representing all of our campus libraries, were part of our Project Group which also included senior library staff and an IT representative.

Outside of our formal implementation we carried out preparatory work on our bibliographic data with an emphasis on correcting our serials holdings, removing records for items no longer held in stock, etc.  We have also looked at minimising the differences in our data from our legacy systems.

Our implementation with Ex Libris began in August 2015 with introductory training and discussing our desired configuration. We then carried out two test data extracts in the autumn, and staff attended an on-site training workshop just before Christmas.  Following administrator training and our final data extract early in 2016, we launched Alma and Primo to schedule on 1st March 2016.

What have you learned from the process?

The collaboration within WHELF has been particularly valuable, both in evaluating and selecting a suitable system and preparing for implementation.  At UWTSD we have had the advantage of learning from colleagues in the earlier cohort – Swansea, Aberystwyth, USW and the National Library of Wales – both in person through WHELF LMS Mini Meets and also online through email and Basecamp.  As a result of WHELF feedback, we decided to extend our loans for a longer period over the launch week and made some minor configuration changes to our automated email notices to allow for a smoother transition period.

The implementation has been particularly intense having migrated from multiple legacy systems and on reflection I think we could have benefitted from additional time towards the end of the project; we found ourselves evaluating our second test dataset and preparing for our final data extract at the same time as taking the Alma certification training course.  We were grateful to Ex Libris for including a second test extract which helped to identify a number of issues.

What benefits have been achieved?

An immediate benefit has been having a unified LMS and discovery service across all of our campuses from the launch date.  Previously, any students wanting to use Swansea and Carmarthen or Lampeter libraries would have had to search two separate catalogues and fill in a form to register at one of the libraries.  Our students can now search the complete catalogue in one place and borrow from any campus.

We have taken advantage of the automatic renewal functionality within Alma to launch an improved service to students and staff.  Any loans which have not been recalled due to another request will automatically renew for a set period, reducing unnecessary fines and hopefully improving the student experience.

Moving to a web-based, cloud-hosted system allows us to access the Alma LMS from any Internet facility with a web browser without any further software installation.  This has been particularly beneficial with staff working across different campuses and on different devices.  In the future this will provide us with the opportunity to develop innovative services outside of the library, perhaps allowing us to enhance our information literacy training workshops, for example.

What are the main challenges ahead?

We still have some legacy issues to resolve from running different systems, and would also like to take advantage of some of the functionality in Alma that we have yet to implement, for example Resource Sharing.  Our LMS Project Group will continue to meet to take forward these plans.

In addition, we are looking forward to further collaboration with WHELF with some interesting proposals under development surrounding the Alma Network Zone and shared services.

Anything else to add?

It has been a rewarding experience working with new colleagues both internally and externally as part of the project.  Library staff across different UWTSD campuses have been able to work together on the project, and through WHELF we have had an opportunity to share our experiences and learn from others.

Posted in Blog LMS WHELF a Rennir, shared services, Whelf shared LMS, WHELF Shared LMS blog

Winner of the Welsh Librarian of the Year Award 2016

Dylan Hughes (pictured left) with all the Welsh Librarian of the Year nominees.

This story is from the CILIP Cymru Wales website

“Congratulations to Dylan Hughes, Leisure and Libraries Manager- Wrexham Library & Information Service WINNER of the Welsh Librarian of the Year Award 2016. Dylan was nominated for the award by the Society of Chief Librarians Wales Executive Group.
In recent years, Dylan has worked tirelessly to make the vision of a single nationally procured library management system a reality in Wales. This has been a very challenging and time-consuming project that required a range of skills and personal attributes, not least tenacity, to pull off. The legacy that his leadership of this project will give the Welsh public library network is significant.

His support not only to his own service but to others through his involvement with SCL Wales and other organisations have led to changes within the Welsh Public Library Standards, various library strategies and the growth and professionalism around the marketing of library services.

He is a passionate committed library professional who on retirement will be sorely missed, both in Wrexham and across the wider nation.

Collecting his award, Dylan thanked CILIP Cymru Wales and sponsors SirsiDynix and applauded the work of his fellow nominees. Dylan said that he saw the award , not as an individual achievement, but as a collective achievement on behalf of all the librarians he has worked with over his 35 year career.”

Source (

Posted in Uncategorised

Welsh collaboration in action: a joint event for librarians supporting HE in FE

Welsh Collaboration in Action: A Joint Event for Librarians Supporting HE in FE is being held this year on Tuesday 21st June 2016 at Cardiff and Vale College, City Centre Campus Dumballs Road Cardiff,

The morning session will include FE and HE updates from each institution and attendees should come prepared to give a short (no more than 5 minutes) update on developments in your college specifically related to your HE work.

After lunch there will be a tour of the campus including the library. The afternoon session will concentrate on different ways in which we can promote our libraries and our services.  The first session will be a workshop session showing you how to make a short instructional video to promote or explain your library (>1 minute) mixing live action – volunteer needed – with screencasting and other media. By the end of the session, we will have a completed video!  The second session will look at how good design can help all our promotions and will include how to design  subject guides using the Libguides software.

Throughout the day there will be plenty of time for networking and discussion.

There aren’t many parking spaces within the college. There is an unofficial car park on Dumballs road and there are some limited spaces along the road, but again they are pay and display.  We would recommend people make use of public transport.  The train station is only 5 minutes up the road.

To book a place please email Sally Skym  by 10th June  and include any particular dietary requirements you may have.

Posted in collaboration, events

Aber LibTeachMeet 2016! How do libraries make you more employable?

aber ISAberystwyth University libraries are running a LibTeachMeet on Thursday, 9 June 2016 from 11:00 to 15:00 focusing on the librarian’s role in Employability. This will take place on Penglais Campus, Aberystwyth University.

We invite librarians from different sectors to discuss and share experiences of how your work contributes to someone’s employability, and a chance to find out and exchange viewpoints on work-ready skills.

Please register to attend:

Lunch, teas and coffees will be provided.

Posted in events, student experience Tagged with: , ,

Implementation at the NLW

With thanks to Sian Thomas (NLW) and Glen Robson (NLW) for this article:

Tell us about the National Library of Wales

The National Library of Wales (NLW) was established in 1907 to “collect, preserve and give access to all kinds of forms of recorded knowledge, especially relating to Wales and the Welsh and other Celtic peoples, for the benefit of the public”. We have a large and varied collection including 6.5 million books and periodicals and a large collection of archives, and we are also home to the National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales. The NLW is one of six copyright libraries in the UK which entitles it to receive a copy of every book published in the UK, and through recent legislation, copies of electronic material including websites, e-books and journal articles.  It also has a large digital collection containing digitised Newspapers, Journals, Photographs, Maps and Archival Collections.

The NLW is open to the general public, with reading room access available to registered users over the age of 16. You can register to access our online resources here ( and the amount of registered users currently stand at around 19,000.

What was your legacy system and what do you have now?

Our LMS was supplied by VTLS, Virtua for the main LMS functions and iPortal for discovery, although this was augmented from 2010 with the use of Aquabrowser as the main discovery tool, and Summon for access to electronic resources.  Virtua was implemented in 2006/7 and at the time there was a lot of effort put into merging various different databases and datasets into a single MARC-based catalogue. This greatly benefitted our migration process for the WHELF system as it meant we only needed to migrate one system which contained records for all of our print and unique collections. All VTLS systems were internally hosted. We also had a number of semi-bespoke developments as part of the Virtua product, particularly for cataloguing of archival and film materials, and for closed-stack circulation.

We now have Alma as our main LMS, AtoM(Access to Memory) as a system for cataloguing and providing access to archival material and Primo as the primary discovery and access portal to all NLW material, physical, electronic and digital.

Describe your implementation

Originally NLW had been part of Cohort 3, however VTLS was acquired by Innovative mid 2014, and having considered the implications of this change in terms of maintaining our already aging system, we decided to swap to Cohort 1(thanks very much due to Bangor for enabling this!). This probably did impact on our preparations a little. Work began straight away in January 2015, but we had a longer implementation timetable than the other partners and were scheduled go live in November 2015. The longer implementation gave us time to translate Alma and Primo into Welsh (30,000+ terms) and work through some of our more complex requirements relating to digital integration and legal deposit, as well as installing, configuring and implementing our new archives system in time for the main switch-over

The project team was a cross-department group, with people assigned to lead on migration, fulfillment and Primo, archives, acquisitions, cataloguing and IT-related tasks like authentication and integration. Staff from departments across the library assisted with data testing, and many also provided invaluable assistance with training and documentation. Fulfillment configuration was a particular challenge to ensure we could meet our user requirements in our closed-stacks environment, so many meetings and training sessions were held with our Reader Services department throughout the implementation.

We went through a number of migration test loads before doing the final ‘cutover migration’ in late October before going live to staff on the 5th of November. The switch to Primo took a little longer due to problems with deduplication between our data sources, and this went live to the public on the 6th of December 2015.

Our colleagues in cohort 1 were immensely helpful during our implementation. As they had already gone through the process we could turn to them if we had specific questions on functionality or how they had set up their workflows. Aberystwyth also kindly invited us to some of their implementation meetings with Ex Libris and this prepared us well for when we had our own meetings with Ex Libris months later.

What have you learned from the process?

We definitely learned to relax a little more and share more of the process with colleagues. Our previous system implementation was over a long period due to the complexity of the data migration, so we’d had a lot of time to get truly familiar with the system and provide authoritative advice and training to staff. Initially we tried to do the same here, but the implementation timescale forced our hand and we came to depend on various colleagues taking responsibility for testing out workflows and conducting training. Despite feeling underprepared, the implementation and go-live were relatively painless (yes we did have some issues but nothing we and Ex Libris couldn’t handle), and we’ve benefitted from having people in units and departments across the library taking ownership of their functional areas. It’s a more sustainable solution for the future as well, as the Systems unit always has more than enough to do to make up for the reduction in basic troubleshooting and training tasks!

What benefits have been achieved?

Having been involved in the previous procurement in 2005 for a new library management system being part of the WHELF consortium purchase was a much easier experience. It was great to see during the requirements-gathering phase how much we all had in common.

We have now been live for around 5 months and one of the benefits that has already been realised is automatic upgrades. On previous systems this used to be a staff intensive activity that we would try and complete once a year, but so far we have already had 5 upgrades since we went live, with few or no issues. We’ve also just completed the financial year rollover as our financial year runs from April to April and this was also a lot easier than in previous years.

Moving from on-site installation to a hosted system is another key benefit, both in terms of staff time and maintenance costs, and so far we have found Support to be quick and useful in diagnosing and solving any issues arising.

What are the main challenges ahead?

As a systems unit we will be exploring the record uploading and batch updating functionality that Alma provides, trying to look at automated methods of upgrading records from external sources. We will also be looking at renewing our record publishing arrangements with various union catalogues. We will also be conducting a review of workflows and services over the next few months – having followed Ex Libris’ advice to keep things simple during the implementation, we will be looking for opportunities to make improvements now we have a better understanding of the system and how we work with it.

With the other members of the consortium we look forward to exploring the benefits a shared catalogue can achieve. It’s an exciting challenge which will certainly involve a lot of work over the coming months and years, but which hopefully will bring benefits to all institutions and their users

Anything else to add?

Just to echo what our cohort 1 colleagues have mentioned in their blogs. It has been a stressful and busy period implementing a new system but the results have achieved a benefit for the public and staff that use the new system to discover and use our resources, with early feedback proving positive.

Posted in Blog LMS WHELF a Rennir, Whelf shared LMS, WHELF Shared LMS blog

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