WHELF are the proud winners of the Outstanding Library Team Award, announced on Thursday June 18th at the Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards 2015. The awards, now in their seventh year recognise outstanding leadership and management in the UK’s higher education institutions.
The Wales Higher Education Libraries Forum (WHELF) – comprising the National Library of Wales, all 10 Welsh higher education institutions and Welsh NHS Libraries – is a groundbreaking partnership to deliver a library management system for the whole country. A single identity now allows users to access and borrow material from every higher education library, while both physical and digital services are being transformed.
The judges described WHELF as an “ambitious project” that “shows great trust, ability to develop a shared vision and achieve impressive cross-organisational alignment and coordination”. “As well as cost savings on procurement and infrastructure, the partnership approach will improve discovery and ultimately access to library resources for all users in Welsh universities, the National Library of Wales and further afield,” the panel said.
The WHELF project, the first of its kind within UK higher education, has secured funding through Jisc and CyMAL (Museums, Archives and Libraries Wales).
Facilitated by Cardiff University, which chaired both the working and the steering groups, it has been a genuinely collaborative process, with all the member libraries playing a full and active part. Given their geographical distribution, this has involved video-conferencing and shared online spaces for storage and real-time production of essential documentation. Chair of WHELF, Aled Gruffydd Jones (Chief Executive and Librarian, NLW) commented that ‘this award is a tribute to the excellent collaboration that has been developed between library teams in very different kinds of institutions across Wales. The mutual trust and respect on which it is founded not only enhances the services we offer to our users, and at a lower cost, but also provides a very strong basis for further joint working in the future.’
Winners attended a black-tie event in at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London, hosted by actor and comedian Jack Whitehall, where over 1,000 guests gathered to celebrate outstanding performance in the competitive world of UK higher education.
The winners were chosen by a panel of judges including Alison Johns, Chief Executive of the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, David McBeth, Director of Research and Knowledge Exchange Services at the University of Strathclyde, and Maja Maricevic, Head of Higher Education at the British Library.