Wales Higher Education Libraries Forum

Posted in WHELF

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

The Big Reveal: showcasing collections made accessible by conservation

The Big Reveal: Showcasing collections made accessible by conservation. WHELF Special Collections Group / ARCW Conference

National Library of Wales

19 May 2016

This showcase will demonstrate the significance and impact of conservation work on users and collections, including material conserved through the partnership between the National Manuscript Conservation Trust (NMCT) and the Welsh Government since 2008. These, and other conservation projects undertaken, have enabled services to open up access to fascinating collections of a unique nature and great significance.

This conference is an opportunity for us to celebrate these collections and to recognise the values they hold for a wide audience,  including academics, researchers and the general public and to reflect on the importance of well-planned conservation activity.

The items conserved reflect the social, industrial, economic and geographical history of Wales. They include a wide variety of items, including maps, architectural drawings, cinema plans, minute books and letters some of which are of iconic national importance; others are of immense significance to local communities. The conservation work has facilitated access and enabled these collections to be used for research, to be exhibited and digitised. The conference will showcase the conservation work that has been undertaken on a number of these collections. The papers will also discuss the selection of items, the planning of projects and to consider and evaluate the impact that these conservation projects have had on services, staff, volunteers and users.


Provisional Agenda

The Big Reveal

19 May 2016



10:00            Arrival, registration and refreshments

10:30           Welcome – Linda Tomos Librarian NLW

10:40           NMCT – Nell Hoare

Session 1 – Chair

11:00           MALD – 35, pursuing access, Sarah Paul

11:30   Glamorgan Archives – Curtain Up, Lydia Stirling and Rhian Diggins

12:00   Flintshire Record Office– Erddig Book, Mark Allen, Claire Harrington and Graeme Clarke

12:30           Lunch

Session 2 – Chair

13:15            Ceredigion Archives– Florie Hamer Papers, Helen Palmer

13:35   West Glamorgan Archive Service – NAI Neath Abbey Iron Works project, Kim Collis

13:55   NLW – IIIF (International Image Interoperability Framework) a framework for Digitised Images, Glen Robson

14:15    AC-NMW – Conservation made accessible by collections, Christian Baars

14:45            Tea

Session 3 – Chair

15:00   Richard Burton Archives – Union Matters: conserving early records of the South Wales Miners’ Federation, Elisabeth Bennett

15:30    Bangor University Archives – Penrhyn Jamaica Papers, Chris Woods and Elen Simpson

16:00            Close and reception

If you would like to attend this conference please provide the following details to  no later than Monday 9 May 2016.


Job title

Individual Email address (if not the same as that you are responding from)


Direct telephone number

Do you have any special access or other requirements?

Posted in archives & special collections

Supporting research: the evolving role of the subject librarian

reseach events

The WHELF Research group have organized three regional events during May for WHELF subject librarians, research librarians and librarians working in the Wales NHS Libraries.  The purpose of the event is to look at the evolving role of the subject librarian in response to the growing demand to support research and the changes within the research environment. The programme will include 3 presentations:

  • Keynote: The evolving nature of the subject librarian
  • An introduction to the open access agenda in the UK and how this informs library services
  • The researcher as a social butterfly (use of social media/networking platforms, altmetrics etc)

The 3 presentations will be followed by structured discussions to allow attendees to examine in more depth the themes addressed in the presentations and to consider the scope for future research support roles. The events are scheduled as follows:

4th May, Swansea University

10th May, Aberystwyth University

26th May, Cardiff University

The feedback from the structured discussions and a pre and post attendance survey for attendees will be collated and presented at the 2016 Gregynog Colloquium (

You can also follow and contribute to the discussions on the day using the Twitter hashtag #whelfresearch

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

Gregynog Colloquium 2016

The Gregynog Colloquium has been organized this year by the University of South Wales and will take place between 13th-17th June 2016.  This year’s Library programme is a varied mix of topics linked to the theme of ‘The Academic Library of the Future?’ and welcomes Chris Banks of Imperial College London to give the keynote address.  With the support of their sponsors the Organizing Committee have been able to keep the costs the same as last year and may even be able to reduce them.

Please go to the following link to view the programme and for details of how to book:

GregynogThe last date for taking bookings with be 20th May. Please book early to avoid disappointment.

Posted in events, WHELF Tagged with:

Mini round up of news from Welsh libraries | Alyson’s Welsh libraries blog

This news update is by Alyson Tyler, Senior Libraries Development Adviser for MALD (Museums, Archives and Libraries Division of the Welsh Government):

Source: Mini round up of news from Welsh libraries | Alyson’s Welsh libraries blog

Posted in news

WHELF Libraries celebrate National Libraries Day

The annual National Libraries Day (6th February 2016)  gave WHELF libraries the opportunity to run events to celebrate and showcase their libraries and staff.

In Cardiff, the University Library Service celebrated with a #LovingYourLibrary theme. All of the university libraries had “heart-ily” decorated stands (and free sweets) where staff and students could leave their views on what they love about their library or comment on where they think services could be improved. This was combined with “meet the team” blog posts on the Library News blog and Twitter to profile staff and their role:

The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD) also ran with a theme of profiling their staff to demonstrate links to the subjects they support. The Library Assistants used the RWCMD Twitter account to introduce the team (#RWCMDlibstaff) and also put together a display complete with photos from old drama productions they had appeared in along with a quiz for students to enter.

Bangor University organized a number of events in and around their libraries from 25th January to 14th February along the theme of “Love your Library”.

They ran a competition inviting students to tell them in a creative way what they love about Bangor University Libraries; the first place prize was a £25 gift voucher.

Library staff also took the library on tour and were out and about around campus inviting staff and students to share their views on how they use the library and what they like/dislike about the library space. It was also an opportunity to inform users about the services they provide.

Swansea University ran a “Love Your Library week” from the 8th to 12th February with activities taking place between 11am and 2pm each day at the Singleton campus library and a day long event on the 12th Feb at the Bay campus library.


Staff provided tea/coffee, cakes and sweets and invited student feedback via a love heart post it display and “love letters” to the library. Some of the love heart post-its featured on Twitter encouraging further student engagement.

SU ISS NLD16.3jpg         

Posted in events, marketing, value, WHELF

Head of Library Services at Cardiff Metropolitan University

CILIP Cymru Librarian of the YeaCongratulations to Mark Hughes who has been appointed as Head of Library Services at Cardiff Metropolitan University. Since 2008 Mark has worked at Swansea University Library as Head of Collections and Finance. In 2015 he won the CILIP Cymru Welsh Librarian of the Year. Mark takes up his new post at Cardiff Metropolitan on July 4th and WHELF looks forward to working with him in this new role.


Posted in news, WHELF

Cardiff Metropolitan University goes live with WHELF Shared LMS

cardiff met logo March 2016 brings a double success for the implementation of the WHELF Shared LMS as Cardiff Metropolitan University went live this morning with the service ( Cardiff Metropolitan’s implementation concludes the implementation phase for cohort 2 and now the process continues for the third and final cohort: Cardiff University and the Wales NHS Libraries, Bangor University and Glyndwr University.


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

WHELF quarterly news update Feb 2016

The most recent meeting of the WHELF Representatives was via videoconference on Wednesday 24th February. The meeting was chaired by Sue Hodges (Bangor University) and attended by the following: Paul Jeorrett (Glyndwr University), Emma Adamson (Uof SW), Bronwen Blatchford (UofW), Kristine Chapman (NMW), Andrew Dalgleish (UofSW), Alison Harding (UWTSD: Carmarthen & Lampeter), Anne Harvey (UWTSD:Swansea), Mark Hughes (Swansea University), Kathryn Murphy (NLW), Julie Neenan (Cardiff Metropolitan), Janet Peters (Cardiff University), Rachael Whitfield (WHELF Development Officer, minute taker), Nicky Whitsed (OU), Megan Wiley (RWCMD).

Welcomes and retirements: We welcomed new WHELF Representative, Kristine Chapman from the National Museum of Wales to her first meeting and said goodbye to Avril Jones (National Library of Wales) and Nicky Whitsed (Open University)  who are both retiring and thanked them for their help, support and contribution to the work of WHELF over the years. It was also Bronwen Blatchford’s (University of Wales) final meeting with WHELF Reps as she is leaving the University of Wales. The University of Wales is merging with the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) and will no longer be an independent member of WHELF. Bronwen was thanked for her valued contributions to WHELF and we wish her well in her continuing career at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

WHELF Shared LMS: The WHELF Shared LMS continues to form an extensive part of the discussions at the WHELF meetings and we welcomed Gareth Owen, Programme Manager for the WHELF Shared LMS to the meeting. Gareth reported on progress with the project as we now reach the mid stages of implementation within our institutions; cohort 2 namely, University of Wales Trinity Saint and Cardiff Metropolitan University will both be going live during March 2016. Cardiff University and the RWCMD started their implementation process in January, and Bangor and Glyndwr universities also held their first “kick off” meeting in February.

Good progress is being made to develop a shared catalogue and shared cataloguing via the WHELF Shared LMS. A symposium hosted by Swansea University in November, set out some of the basic milestones and provided a common understanding of the challenges and opportunities ahead. Following the symposium, the cataloguers have been active in discussion on a shared online platform (Yammer) and ExLibris has produced a draft plan for implementation.

A workshop was held at Gregynog on February 25th-26th to develop work around analytics. The workshop was facilitated by colleagues from Sheffield and Lancaster universities.

Gareth has secured funding from Jisc over to develop a benefits realisation framework. Jisc has confirmed a budget for this exercise which will last between 6-8 months and is in the process of finalising arrangements with its procurement team. WHELF workshops will then be arranged to commence work on the framework.

As WHELF proceeds rapidly to full implementation the need to provide continued central support for the project was the focus of our remaining discussions in this part of the meeting. Supporting the WHELF Shared LMS across our institutions, continuing to explore and develop the collaborative opportunities that a shared system will bring and exploiting those benefits will be paramount.

WHELF workforce training and development proposal Julie Hart (Aberystwyth University) Sue Hodges (Bangor University) and Paul Jeorrett (Glyndwr Wrexham) met in December to discuss this area of the Action Plan. Their suggestion to WHELF Reps is that a training budget of £5000 be set aside from WHELF funds to support workforce training and development. The funding is to enable

  • Staff development events, activities, or OERs that link to, stimulate and support the WHELF Strategic Aims outlined in the WHELF Strategic Plan 2015- and the WHELF Action Plan.
  • Events, activities, or OERs that inform ways in which WHELF can develop and innovative in the future
  • Staff development, training and awareness raising that offers benefit to the widest range of staff within the WHELF membership
  • Events, activities, or OERs that incorporate all of the above but has potential to reach out to other library partners in Wales and beyond

This request was unanimously agreed by WHELF and the funding request form and guidelines will be finalised and then circulated to WHELF staff to enable them to take advantage of this funding.

Report from the Chair of the Archives and Special Collections sub-group We welcomed Sian Williams (Librarian, South Wales Miners’ Library, Swansea University) to this meeting. Sian, along with Sally McInnes of the National Library of Wales are joint Chairs of the WHELF Archives and Special Collections (A&SC) sub-group. The A&SC group meet twice a year and Sian updated the group on the work that the A&SC group are focusing on as part of the WHELF Action Plan including compiling a list of digitized resources for the WHELF website that highlight WHELF’s treasures; considering a scoping study to address the cataloguing backlog of institutional records; use of volunteers in A≻ discussing a digital preservation strategy and a joint conference on conservation with the National Manuscript Conservation Trust (NMCT) to be held on 19th May.

Gregynog Colloquium 2016 The call for papers for the Colloquium has been circulated with a theme of “The Academic Library of the Future” and the University of South Wales who are the organizers of the conference this year are currently following up on suggestions and proposals. The programme will go out at the beginning of April.

Future configuration proposal for WHEEL (Wales Higher Education Electronic Library) The main aims of WHEEL are to license access to resources for learning, teaching and research for the benefit of all users of WHELF library services in the most cost efficient manner possible using economies of scale. It has now been in existence for a number of years, and has provided a valuable service to WHELF member institutions. Chair of the WHEEL sub-group and WHELF Representative Mark Hughes had prepared a paper for the group to enable discussion on furthering a robust, flexible and sustainable model to develop WHEEL’s activities. WHEEL has been identified as a potential growth area for WHELF collaborative service activities in relation to the strategic opportunities opened up by the WHELF Shared LMS project.

Posted in news, WHELF, Whelf shared LMS

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