National award for Wrexham’s business information guru Gareth

August 19, 2014

Information Services Assistant Gareth Hatton who works for Wrexham County Borough Council’s Businessline service has been named Public Library Champion of the Year, a national award from the Public and Mobile Libraries Group (PMLG) of CILIP, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals.

Gareth was presented with the award yesterday by Baroness Diana Eccles of Moulton, MP, at a special ceremony as part of CILIP’s two-day International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) Satellite Conference in Birmingham.

Gareth has provided vital help and information to new and growing businesses in the local area for over ten years and was nominated in recognition of his outstanding information retrieval skills and efficiency, combined with a providing valued customer service support to his users, many of whom credit his assistance for helping their businesses to thrive and grow.

Gareth said:

“I am absolutely delighted and honoured to have been chosen as the winner of such a prestigious award and am overwhelmed that my work supporting local SME’s has been recognised on a national level by CILIP.”

The Public Library Awards formally recognise the individual approach and achievement of outstanding library staff employed in different capacities across the public library service, highlighting the value they bring to their employers and the difference they make to service users. Nominations are made by employers and must be endorsed by community partners, colleagues and public library service users.

Dr Darren Smart, Chair of CILIP’s Public and Mobile Library Group said:

“I am proud to announce the winners and runners up of our annual awards which recognise the outstanding contribution that paid library staff make to their customers, the communities they serve and the wider public library profession”.

Awards were also made to the winners of Public Librarian of the Year, Jacqueline Cooper, a librarian recognised as being at the heart of her community in Newbury and Mobile Library Champion of the Year Fiona Litscher, a trusted Relief Mobile Driver across Essex County Council’s 11 mobile libraries. Two Public Library Champion runners up, Kate King at HMP at Edinburgh City Libraries and Jo Norris from Essex’s Sible Hedingham Library were also commended.

Cllr Hugh Jones, Wrexham Council’s Lead Member for Communities, Partnerships and Collaboration, said:

“I would like to pass on my congratulations to Gareth for winning this national award. He clearly has made an outstanding contribution and the award is very well deserved.”

World War One Commemorations in Merthyr Library

August 12, 2014

Lights went out across Merthyr Tydfil on Monday night to mark the 100 years since the start of World War One.

At 11pm on August 4, 1914, Britain entered a war which would shape the world for generations.

In Merthyr, commemorations started from 4pm in Penderyn Square and Merthyr Tydfil Central Library where a variety of crafts, displays, workshops and performances from Dowlais Male Voice Choir were held.  Staff at Merthyr Library also dressed up as World War One nurses for the event (pictured).

Later on in the evening, a talk entitled Merthyr Goes To War was given by local historian Huw Williams.

This was followed by a commemorative service led by Father Mark Prevett in St David’s Church, with town mayor Brian Mansbridge among those to give a reading. Standard flag bearers from the Royal British Legion and local scouts led a procession from the church back up to the square.

At 10pm, Penderyn Square fell into darkness as all the lights were turned out. Lantern bearers and guests including Dai Havard, MP for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, joined in paying their respects to those who did not return home as The Last Post was played from the balcony of the Redhouse.

Coun Mansbridge said: “It was an absolutely superb day. The town and the people itself were a credit to Merthyr Tydfil. We had many visitors, from overseas as well, and the comments we had were fantastic.

“The service was well attended and I can honestly say we, myself as mayor and my wife Brenda as mayoress, are very proud to represent Merthyr Tydfil and I congratulate everyone who paid their respects.”


Wrexham Library Group – Runners-up in the 2014 ReadingZone Picture Book Competition!

August 5, 2014

The Winners and Runners-UP of this year’s ReadingZone Picture Book Competition, selected from over 1,000 picture book entries, have been announced!

Judge Guy Parker-Rees has worked hard to choose the winners of this year’s competition. There was a huge range and vast quality of picture books sent by children around the country and internationally. After many hours spent looking at the work and reading some amazing stories, a shortlist was selected from which Guy Parker-Rees has chosen the following winners. All of the the winning picture books are online and ready to download: The winners of the 2014 ReadingZone Picture Book Competition, with comments from our judge Guy Parker-Rees, are as follows:

Wrexham Library Group were selected as the Runner Up in the Primary category:

Runner Up: Snowdrop Farm Wrexham Library A very interesting book that evoked the atmosphere of the trenches in a most imaginative way. Some stunning illustrations helped( like Silky under the Rainbow). I think all the different drawing styles added depth and richness to it. Well done Wrexham Library Group.”


50 years of the Public Libraries Act 1964

August 4, 2014

Guest post by Hywel James, Gwynedd taken from Alyson’s Welsh Libraries Blog

The chief librarians in Wales celebrated recently. What did they have to celebrate, you may ask, in the middle of planning drastic cuts in spending and closing some libraries? Well, on a break from a busy agenda with items discussing the development and improvement of services, we took the opportunity to share cake and remember fifty years since the passing of the Public Libraries Act 1964. This Act established the modern statutory library service, which it is the duty of each local authority to provide, and that gives everyone in Wales the opportunity to enjoy and benefit from its use.

As a child of the sixties I remember especially a new public library building which came in the wake of this important Act: the new concrete and glass Holyhead library. I was there at the opening, with the Secretary of State of Wales at the time, Cledwyn Hughes, opening the library in his hometown and mine. Here my life was opened to the treasures of literature of a high standard – the pleasure of following the story of Tolkien’s Hobbit and excitement of reading T. Llew Jones novels – and getting valuable help with my homework whilst at school and college – my debt to that library is great.

As it was in the period of a Labour government that this first golden age of public libraries took place, it was necessary to remind myself that the 1964 Act was the product of a Conservative government. After years of debate mainly during the years of Harold Macmillan’s leadership, the Act was passed. It is no coincidence I suspect that Macmillan himself was an enthusiastic reader – his favourite author was Jane Austen by the way – and of course he was the heir to a company of Scottish descent that became one of the world’s major publishers. It is strange to think in the present climate that we owe a debt to the Tory party for the Act to establish the ‘comprehensive and efficient’ library services!

While visiting the new libraries at Prestatyn and Caerphilly recently I was struck by the same excitement I felt as a child in Holyhead, to see new multi-purpose libraries attracting a host of new users. The lean period is ahead of us but we have survived bleak decades. Our strength as a public service is that review after review, case study after case study and our everyday experience shows the great value of libraries to people’s lives. This solid evidence will ensure future Welsh public libraries continue to serve, with free access for all, for the next fifty years.


July 17, 2014

Mythical Maze is here! Let your children get caught up in an epic adventure in their local library over the summer holidays with the Summer Reading Challenge 2014!

John Griffiths AM, Minister for Natural Resources, Culture and Sport, and storyteller Michael Harvey joined children from St Mary’s Primary School to launch the Challenge in Wales at Canton Library, Cardiff.

John Griffiths said, “Reading can be a great source of enjoyment for children. Instilling a passion for reading early on is crucial to help them develop their skills and our libraries play a central role in supporting this. I hope everyone will go along to their local library this summer to take advantage of the free activities and discover some great new books to read and inspire them.”

Organised by independent charity The Reading Agency and public libraries, the Challenge is supported in Wales by the Welsh Books Council and the Welsh Government. Now in its 16th year, the Summer Reading Challenge in libraries is the UK’s largest reading-for-pleasure programme for primary school aged children. Last year, a record 42,218 children in Wales (42% of them were boys) took up the challenge to read six books or more at their local library last summer; it runs in 100% of local authorities in Wales.

Support from Welsh Government is crucial to the success of the challenge in Wales and Minister for Education and Skills, Huw Lewis said,

“You can never overestimate the importance of reading and I’m absolutely delighted to offer my support to the Summer Reading Challenge in Wales. We want to improve the literacy standards of all children in Wales, but wider than that I want children to enjoy reading in whatever form that takes. From books about facts to fantasy filled fiction if you foster a passion for reading from a young age it stands our young people in good stead for the future.”

Every year the Challenge has a new theme and this year it is Mythical Maze, illustrated by the award-winning artist Sarah McIntyre. Children aged between 4 and 12 are encouraged to read six or more books of their choice during the summer holiday, and with posters and stickers (some of them are ‘scratch and sniff’!) and other incentives to complete the Challenge, it’s a highlight of the holiday for thousands of children. Teachers comment that children who take part return to school as more fluent, confident readers.

Some libraries in Wales are also offering adults an opportunity to enter their own reading challenge, setting a good example to the children and a chance to win a prize. Going on holiday? Just take the books with you, or download some of the free e-books from onto your e-reader or mobile device.

By logging on to the Mythical Maze website, your children can keep track of their progress online, rate the books for other readers and get tips on what to read next. This year there’s even an app that brings illustrator Sarah McIntyre’s amazing creatures to life! For more information on the Summer Reading Challenge – including how to get involved, and resources for schools – go to

Call at your local library or visit to find out more. You can also follow the Summer Reading Challenge on Facebook!/SummerReadingChallengeUK