WHELF and Jisc are pleased to announce that our Excluded Voices conference is now open for booking.

The conference will focus on recognising the structural inequalities which are often present in our collections and services, and on showcasing initiatives and developments which seek to tackle these. The dominant voices in our collections are often those of privilege, but there are many other stories and multiple perspectives, sometimes hidden or excluded from view. Relevant topics for submission could include the development of inclusive collection policies, diversifying reading lists and curricula, showcasing diverse collections and practices, and critical assessment of bias in our structures and policies.

Given the strength of the response to our call for papers, we have two dates available. Both are free and open to anyone who would like to attend, with a particular focus on libraries, museums and heritage sector organisations.

Please sign up here:

22nd April 2021- https://www.eventsforce.net/jiscevents/1074/home

24th May 2021 – https://www.eventsforce.net/jiscevents/1075/home

With thanks to Jisc for technical and booking support.

The WHELF Colloquium will be held online on Wednesday 9th June 2021. 

The theme of this year’s conference is: 

There and back again: using lessons learned from the pandemic to shape the library services of the future. 

We would welcome presentations on how services have adapted and what we will continue to do differently in the years ahead. Examples might include (but are not restricted to): 

  • Delivery of teaching and support in the virtual environment 
  • Capturing student feedback about their experiences 
  • Review of collection management and acquisitions workflows 
  • Re-thinking the use of space 

Presentations can be around 20 minutes in length, although we aim to be flexible. There will also be time for questions and discussion.  

You are welcome to livestream or pre-record your delivery. WHELF Groups are also invited to submit presentations on recent developments.  

Guidance for presenters, including technical advice, will be provided soon.  

If you would like to submit a proposal, please include the following information: 

  • List of names of presenters and their institutional affiliation. 
  • Title and a brief description of your paper. 
  • Length of presentation. 

Deadline for submissions: 23rd April 2021 

Please e-mail submissions to: Claire.Wotherspoon@open.ac.uk or Jennifer.Markey@open.ac.uk 

This WHELF event is being organised by the University of South Wales, the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama and the Open University. 

The Welsh Government has published its Digital Strategy for Wales “Digital in Wales: improving the lives of everyone through collaboration, innovation and better public services.”

WHELF is pleased to have been involved in the draft consultation process and to see its voice reflected in the strategy, along with that of CILIP Cymru Wales, NHS Libraries Wales, Welsh Government Libraries and public libraries.

The WHELF Board met on Tuesday 9th March via Teams. Alison Harding is the new Chair and Mark Hughes the Vice Chair. Alison thanked Julie Hart for continuing as Treasurer and Steve Williams for his work as Chair from 2019-21.

Jenny McNally (WHELF LMS Business Manager) also joined the meeting to update on the WHELF P2P Alma Interlending scheme and other matters.

The Board was joined in the afternoon by Hywel Owen and Amanda Roberts from Welsh Government Libraries. They provided an update on the support received by Welsh public libraries during the Covid-19 crisis and plans going forward. The Board considered ways that WHELF can work with the Welsh Government and other groups to provide cross- sector support and shared experience.

Gill Morris writes:

On Wednesday 10th March WHELF welcomed colleagues to a Zoom presentation from Philippa Price, Subject Librarian at Swansea University.

In November 2020 Swansea University held a Living Books event for its staff entitled A Brave New World: Resilience and Community. Philippa shared her experience of being in the planning group and gave a great deal of helpful and practical tips. Attendees had an opportunity to ask questions and also share their own experience, and some went away with renewed determination to set up their own events.

Many thanks to all who took part and to Philippa for such an honest and thought-provoking presentation.

Here is the joint CILIP Wales, WHELF, National Library, NHS Libraries and Welsh Public Libraries response to the (Draft) WG Digital Strategy:

Download the full report from the link, key recommendations below.

Key recommendations

Recommendation 1: Learning from previous policies

We believe that the Digital Strategy for Wales builds on a legacy of policies for Wales and the rest of the UK with broad digital ambitions. We would recommend that the development of the policy ought to draw on and reference previous policies, and to seek to identify from them any impediments to implementation.

Recommendation 2: Implementation Plan for the Strategy

To be effective, the Digital Strategy for Wales must be accompanied by clear lines of responsibility, measurable outcomes and a dedicated budget commitment. We recommend that the Strategy should be accompanied by an Implementation Plan that details these elements in the context of current responsibilities, targets and spending allocations.

Recommendation 3: Digital preservation and continuity

As Welsh Government knows, effective mechanisms for the retention and preservation of the digital record are key to continuity and accountability for digital development. We recommend that this broad national strategy take into account the infrastructure and skills needed to appraise, store, secure and provide access to digital assets in the long term.

Recommendation 4: Data and information literacy

We recommend that the Welsh Government recognise the importance of data and information literacy as core competencies for the future population, and embed these into curricula in schools, FE and HE.

Recommendation 5: Digital Skills Strategy

The draft strategy rightly recognises the need to invest in advanced digital, information and data skills to create a 22nd century workforce for Wales. This takes long-term planning and partnership with learning providers. We recommend that the Digital Strategy for Wales should be accompanied by a Digital Skills Strategy for Wales, supported by a Committee drawing on skills from Further and Higher Education, professional bodies, Apprenticeships and sector employers.

Using Living Books to help to develop understanding across diverse experiences and cultures

10.00-11.30 Wednesday 10th March via Zoom

Philippa Price will share her experience of helping to organise ‘A
Brave New World: Resilience and community’, an online event at
Swansea University to promote dialogue, reduce prejudices and
encourage understanding through Living Books. Living Books were
recruited from the university’s staff and student community. Each
Book had a story to share that encapsulated the themes of resilience
or community. Visitors to the event borrowed a Living
Book(s) for a 15-minute personal conversation during which they
were encouraged to ask questions and learn more about the Book.
Philippa will talk about how the idea came about and explain the
planning and preparation that was involved in holding the event.
There will be time at the end for an informal chat so delegates can
ask questions and discuss ideas.
10.00-11.00 Presentation (questions encouraged)
11.00-11.30 Informal discussion (bring a beverage!)
This CPD event is aimed at those who are interested in hosting a
similar event or would like to find out more about the concept.


WHELF: Welsh Higher Education Libraries Forum An Open Letter to Rt Hon Mark Drakeford MS, First Minister of Wales : The National Library of Wales

The Welsh Government has enshrined in legislation the key principles of inclusive citizenship, wellbeing and national prosperity in the 2015 Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act. A cornerstone of this is our cultural institutions and most notably our National Library. The current development of Digital Strategy for Wales further strengthens the role of the National Library, both now and for our shared future.

The role of the National Library in supporting the university and research communities of Wales and beyond is fundamental to our collaborative success as a sector and a nation. It both supports and preserves our national scholarly endeavors and acts as an important link and conduit for linking and sharing that knowledge and our shared Welsh culture and heritage here and across the wider world.

A library, particularly a national library, is not just a space, filled with word, images and objects, either virtual or physical. It is , the skills, the expertise and the passion which the people working there bring that enables the knowledge, rich stories and nations memories within to be preserved, shared, and provided with the context to be used and understood.

We understand the pressures of the financial situation and the pressures every organization and institution is under, but the National Library, any library, cannot function without the necessary resources and staff to do all the things required of it. There is little gain, and huge opportunity lost if the National Library of Wales were to fall into that position and thus be unable to bring its unique strengths to the development of Wales’ future.

We ask you to again look at this situation and seek to find a way forward and a long-term funding level that enables the National Library of Wales to sustain its role in our community and play its full potential part into the future.

Alison Harding

Executive Head of Library and Learning Resources, University of Wales Trinity Saint David

WHELF: Vice-Chair

Excluded Voices – a WHELF Conference

WHELF are organising a free one-day conference on Excluded Voices and our Collections to be held online, on 22nd April 2021. We’d like to invite colleagues from the libraries, museums and heritage sector organisations across the UK to submit abstracts for the conference.

We are looking for abstracts for keynote presentations (20 minutes), lightning talks (10 minutes) and poster presentations (to be delivered during refreshment breaks on rotation).

The conference will focus on recognising the structural inequalities which are often present in our collections and services, and on showcasing initiatives and developments which seek to tackle these. The dominant voices in our collections are often those of privilege, but there are many other stories and multiple perspectives, sometimes hidden or excluded from view.  Relevant topics for submission will include the development of inclusive collection policies, diversifying reading lists and curricula, showcasing diverse collections and practices, and critical assessment of bias in our structures and policies.

To submit your abstract please complete the attached template and return to Gill Morris, WHELF Development Officer by 1st March 2021

You’ll be contacted by 19th March 2021 to confirm acceptance of your abstract. We welcome submissions in Welsh or English.

We intend to record all presentations for inclusion on our Internet page for the benefit of colleagues across the sector.

With thanks to JISC for technical support

It’s that time of year again! The Archives & Special Collections Group are taking part in the Color Our Collections social media campaign run by the New York Academy of Medicine Library, joining with other libraries, archives, and museums around the world to share free colouring sheets based on materials in our collections.

This year the campaign kicks off on Monday 1st February and runs through till Friday 5th  February.

Download the book here, print the sheets and share your filled-in images on social media, using the hashtags #colorourcollections (because the campaign launched in America most institutions are using the American spelling of colour!), #lliwioeincasgliadau, and tag us in @WHELFed.

And don’t forget to check out which other institutions around the world are taking part using the #colorourcollections hashtag or visiting the website of the New York Academy of Medicine.

Happy colouring!!