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Monday 31 October 2011

Notes from Wales #lianza11 #keynote4

Andrew Green (on Wikipedia) Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru National Library of Wales
Notes from a small country

Small country. Has only smasmodically been its own political entity - mostly dominated by England. One of the first countries to become industrialised. Employment dominated now by public sector and light industry. Welsh and English are the two official languages. Number of Welsh speakers increasing thanks to efforts to develop it as a living medium in school and everyday life.

1997 decision in referendum to move much power from Westminster to Cardiff. Most areas of public policy could be addressed by people directly elected in Wales. Some hoping for full federalism or even full separatism. Currently in period of nation-building.

CyMAL (=a joint eg in the body): Museums Archives and Libraries Wales.
Has helped public libraries upgrade/build new buildings. Encouraged growth of regional consortia. Monitoring standards in Wales. Funded all-Wales catalogue and initiative to give free online access to reference and family research resources in libraries.

But still a steady drain of resources, including professional staff. Trying to get cross-border cooperation.

People's Collection Wales - Casgliad y Werin Cymru - online showcase of culture. Can log in, upload, create own scrapbook, create a trail or follow a trail, create a map to link in with mobile device.

Libraries are public goods. Noone should be prevented by lack of means from taking advantage of GLAM institutions. Prefer to deliver digital knowledge for free and without restriction. You can register for no charge and little formality. Can't always negotiate licenses for as wide access as want, but do the best. When creating/digitising material, insist it's available for free without charge or need to register.

Keep core services, core permanent staff, then use grants/funding for special projects.

Theatre of Memory project to digitise whole history of Welsh corpus. Want to build an alternative National Library - not bound to physical building which will be inaccessible for many. Will be the largest online corpus to date of material in the Welsh language.

Welsh is a precious asset, needs to be protected by government and people in everyday lives. Libraries play a big role in this. Librarian developed Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru Welsh Books Council. Policy to treat Welsh as equal to English - it's actually the language mostly spoken within the library so Green mostly uses English only when speaking with users.

Archifau Cymunedol Cymru Community Archives Wales - a project from CultureNet.

Digital Inclusion Wales

Library acts as de facto national archives - only official documents go to National Archives in London.

Report developed: Twenty-twenty: A long view of the National Library of Wales.
Online usage will increase bringing new opportunities and threats. Plateau of people entering buildings; number using it online increasing hugely every month. Digitising will open up collections hugely. Challenge of how to fund without restricting access or losing ownership. Need to move into sound/moving image. Have to address copyright (government may be doing something with orphan works). Interactive library in infancy. Social networking and crowdsourcing currently experimental, will develop to bring library and users together.

Physical library? (Refers to Y Llyfrgell by Fflur Dafydd - ebook here) Libraries becoming cultural centres. National library has thriving programme. More visitors for cultural use than for reading.

Working with authors to preserve their work in The Welsh Literature Archive Project.

Need to learn how to scrounge, beg, borrow. Also to keep our heads high!

Academic chair in Digital Collections in the national library - may be a first worldwide. Generating project work, fundraising. To do academic work on this but also help national library to maintain and innovate in digital collections. Example of moving forward, not just retrenching. Need to extend existing collaborative initiatives into new areas.

Q: Digitising up to 1910 - why not further?
A: First digitisation programme was 20th century so ventured straight away into in-copyright material. Second programme wanted to do as much as possible without copyright. Stopped there after taking advice - had to be conservative - left them on safe ground (originally going to stop at 1900). Copyright is 70 years after death of author so even 1910 might be trespassing on copyright. Also issues of trademarks. May need to retreat from that conservatism in future especially if Westminster government changes copyright law especially re orphan works.

Q: Do you have to measure impact re artists-in-residence, and how do you do it?
A: Difficult question, and do get asked it! Don't offer firm data. Can talk about outputs eg how many kids have been through schemes, but can't measure imaginative gain on part of children. But plenty of anecdotal and personal evidence from teachers and children of the effect on them.

Q: How do you speak Welsh internally when only 20% of Welsh speak it?
A: Policy is to be bilingual so any job interacting with users staff have to speak both. Not all in library speak Welsh, but definitely those with contact with public. Nothing in charter says this, it's just something they do and always have done, and people regard library as an organisation that will do this.

Q: Is there an expectation of multiculturalism?
A: Not legally but yes. Not always easy - some of oldest immigrant communities were in Wales. Cardiff had oldest African immigrant population in UK. Not always easy - issues with bringing material away from Cardiff where it belongs - but do have initiatives and have links with communities/organisations.