Mark Hughes, WHELF Chair & Head of Libraries at Cardiff Metropolitan University writes:
On the 29th June 2023, Librarians and guests from Wales and beyond gathered in the Pierhead Building in Cardiff to celebrate over 30 years of working in collaboration across Welsh Higher Education as the Wales Higher Education Libraries Forum (WHELF)
The WHELF collaboration came into being in 1993, and the grouping consists of the libraries from each of the Welsh Universities, the Open University in Wales, the National Library of Wales, and the libraries of Natural Resources Wales and the National Museum Wales. WHELF’s mission is to ‘Promote collaboration and innovation in library, knowledge and information services across Wales’.
In an event sponsored by Jeremy Miles MS, Minister for Education and Welsh Language, attendees gathered to hear addresses noting the achievements of the WHELF collaboration and the impact it has had from Dawn Bowden MS, Deputy Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, former Librarian of the National Library of Wales Andrew Green, and current and former officers of the WHELF group Alison Harding, Mark Hughes and Tracey Stanley.
The speakers picked out some key highlights of what 30 years of significant achievement and impact for the communities WHELF serves, including:
· WHELF’s collaborative procurement of resources to support learning and research, which saw access to numerous collections of e-Books and journal collections opened up on a Wales-wide basis
· Work to support our wider communities, through the ‘Walk in Access’ scheme, enabling members of the public to access scholarly content online from WHELF libraries
· Preserving and opening up collections of significance to Welsh culture and history
· Working to make libraries a more inclusive space, reflective of the entirety of the communities which we serve, through events such as the highly successful ‘Excluded Voices’ conferences, and a range of other equality, diversity and inclusion activities.
· The Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Award-winning ‘Shared Library Management System’ work, which provides a common, state-of-the-art library platform for managing services and resource discoverability right across Wales, which has drawn interest from other consortia across the UK and internationally as an exemplar.
As well as celebrating 30 years of libraries working together to benefit all of our shared communities, the event also looked forward to the launch of WHELF’s forthcoming strategy in 2024, in which WHELF members are keen to go even further and find new, impactful and innovative ways to support our institutions and users over the coming years
A fabulous event, thanking our members, our communities and our partners for a remarkable 30 years, and looking forward to an even more exciting future for WHELF libraries – and of course, as is traditional with any event with Librarians, it was accompanied by a truly wonderful cake. We all very much look forward to seeing what WHELF, and power that comes when libraries work together to common goals, will achieve in the next 30 years .