Developing Wales as a nation of Coders

September 21, 2015

During National Coding Week starting 21st September 2015, WEA YMCA CC Cymru, Wales’ largest Adult Learning provider, is aiming to put Wales at the forefront of coding by offering taster sessions called “Coding for Adults – a Beginners Guide”, with follow on courses being delivered throughout the year. There will be sessions in every Unitary Authority in Wales, from Holyhead and Wrexham in the North, Chepstow and Pembroke Dock in the South, and everywhere in between.

Coding is a language that makes it possible for us to talk to computers and create software, apps and websites. Many people have access to a computer or mobile phone, but may not realise that the browser, the operating system, the apps on their phone, social media, and websites are all made with coding.
WEA YMCA CC Cymru have teamed up with public libraries , Code Club, Welsh Government’s Digital Inclusion programme – ‘Digital Communities Wales’, and regional partners to offer beginner courses in local libraries and community venues throughout Wales.

Speaking at the launch event in Cardiff Central Library Hub’s new digital floor, the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Ken Skates, said “Learning new skills such as coding can open new doors to people. We are increasingly moving into an online world and it is important that people do not miss out on opportunities to develop these skills, which have the potential to create employment opportunities. I’m delighted to launch the National Coding Week in Wales and am pleased this is taking place in a library, which is the ideal place to get support to learn new skills. It’s particularly good to launch it in the new digital floor of Cardiff Central Library, which received a grant from the Welsh Government towards its modernisation.”

Mark Isherwood, Chief Executive for the WEA YMCA CC Cymru said:
‘We are really keen to be bringing this new curriculum to the communities of Wales. Coding has been recognised as a skill to be developed within compulsory education, and we want to ensure that adult learners are not disadvantaged. We have extensive experience of delivering Adult Learning throughout Wales, and working with our partners will ensure that we are able to offer learners the opportunity to create websites, apps and learning content. The taster sessions, and follow on courses, could be the start of a new learning journey for adult learners, providing skills for a changing workforce’.

Richard Rolfe, co-founder of National Coding Week said:
‘I have been overwhelmed by the steps that the Welsh Government has taken to embrace National Coding Week as we look to tackle the digital skills shortage. National Coding Week is all about empowering adults right across the UK, enabling them to take advantage of digital opportunities. I’d encourage everyone in Wales to attend one of the fantastic events taking place this month and learn something new. If I can learn to code aged 51 then anyone can!”

Click here for a list of events happening in Wales

Further details of the taster sessions throughout Wales can be found on the National Coding Week website and at

National Rugby Stories competition winners announced at new rugby display

September 18, 2015

With only days to go until the biggest rugby competition in the world begins, rugby fans visiting Cardiff this autumn will be able to enjoy a special display at National Museum Cardiff as part of the celebrations surrounding the Rugby World Cup.
First Minister for Wales, Carwyn Jones officially launched the Kick-offs and Keep-sakes display at National Museum Cardiff today (16 September 2015) and announced the winners of the national Rugby Stories writing competition for young people.
The display in the Museum’s main hall, on show until Sunday 15 November, looks at the story of rugby through Welsh eyes and features memorabilia from the Welsh Rugby Union’s archives and stories and images relating to the Rugby World Cup competition. Hosted in partnership with the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU), Welsh Government and People’s Collection Wales, Kick offs and Keepsakes promises to be an interesting insight into the unique history of the tournament.
The exhibition features a range of fascinating artefacts, memorabilia and historically significant items which relate to the Rugby World Cup from the WRU’s archives. It includes items from rugby balls and framed signed shirts from every tournament, to a section of the Cardiff Arms Park stadium seating and diverse gifts presented by visiting nations to Wales. These objects are displayed next to a map navigating visitors across the globe to nations that participate in the Rugby World Cup and include such objects as a hand-carved whale’s tooth from Tonga, a unique totem pole from Canada and a cockerel from France.
A digital rugby exhibition has also been created by People’s Collection Wales (PCW). It is hosted on its website and on display via an interactive kiosk as part of the Kick Offs and Keepsakes display. There will also be a PCW Digital Heritage Station located at the Museum as part of the events programme which encourages the local community to bring in their rugby memorabilia items for scanning and leaving their own legacy. PCW has already been working with the WRU and Newport Rugby Club digitising items and providing digital training.
Also displayed at the Museum are stories by winners and runners-up of this year’s Rugby Stories competition, a national bilingual competition for young people, based on the theme of rugby and linked to a piece of creative writing or digital storytelling. Winners include:
Poetry Winner Rowan Lewis Swansea
2nd place Deio Jones Conwy (Welsh language entry)
3rd place Ianto Roberts Wrexham

Short Story Winner Morgan Parker Rhondda Cynon Taff
2nd place Scarlett Carpenter Rhondda Cynon Taff
3rd place Sophie Featherstone Vale of Glamorgan

Digital Story Winner Joe Orrells Rhondda Cynon Taff
2nd place Caitlin Dop Wrexham
3rd place Shay Fisher Rhondda Cynon Taff
To view the winning entries please visit
Libraries, archives and museums joined forces with the WRU to host the competition for young people to celebrate the Rugby World Cup.
Over 500 entries were submitted, based on the theme of rugby and linked to a piece of creative writing or digital storytelling. Over 20 events were held in libraries, museums and archives and many children had the opportunity to work with authors, poets and rap artists as well as the chance to meet some local and regional rugby players.
Young people aged between 7-16 years old let their imaginations run wild and entered a poem, short story or film. The entries were judged by a specially selected panel of judges comprising rugby personalities, authors, librarians and media experts.
Attending today’s event were some of the judges – author, Dan Anthony and Bardd Plant Cymru, Anni Llŷn. Dan commented:
“Thank you to all the children and judges that have been involved in the competition; it has been a great opportunity for children to share what rugby means to them as well as developing their literacy and digital skills. It was great fun to read and watch the entries and a really difficult job to pick the winners and runners up – well done to everyone who entered.”
First Minister Carwyn Jones, said:
“This excellent display only adds to the excitement heading into the Rugby World Cup and highlights the prominent role Wales has played in developing what is now a truly global sport. It’s also great to see the success of the Rugby Stories competition – we’ve got some wonderful young creative minds in Wales and it’s fantastic to see them given a platform to showcase their talents.
“Our proud rugby history, coupled with the thousands of rugby tourists set to visit Cardiff this autumn, mean that this exhibition is sure to be very popular. Our ongoing commitment to ensuring that everyone has access to culture and heritage means that this display, as well as entry to all Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales sites, remains free for all to enjoy and I thoroughly recommend a visit.”
Gareth Davies, WRU Group Chairman, added:
“This is a fascinating time for rugby fans throughout the globe and we are privileged to once again be in a position where the eyes of the world will be descending on Cardiff.
“Fans will turn up in their droves, not just for the eight matches hosted at the Millennium Stadium, but to soak up the atmosphere and the rich rugby history of our capital City.
“National Museum Wales have done a tremendous job with this exhibit and we have been only too pleased to raid the WRU archives to supply the treasured and historic items on display.
“This exhibit will surely be a must see part of the Rugby World Cup experience for any visiting fan and we are more than proud to have had a hand in its creation.”
Director General of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, David Anderson concluded:
“We are proud to host this display at National Museum Cardiff to coincide with the Rugby World Cup. If you have played rugby, it is forever part of your life, and how you experience the World. Rugby never leaves you.
“It’s fantastic to be part of the celebrations, you can already feel the excitement in Cardiff and I hope rugby fans visiting the city take the chance to enjoy this display which traces the unique history of the competition.”
Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales supports an innovative new Welsh Government policy initiative, Fusion: Tackling Poverty through Culture which links cultural bodies more closely together with the Communities First programme to inspire young people and adults. Fusion: Tackling Poverty through Culture is currently being trialled in six ‘Pioneer Areas’ across Wales. For more information visit
National Museum Cardiff’s exhibition and activity programme has been supported by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.
Entry to National Museum Cardiff is free, thanks to the support of the Welsh Government.
Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales operates seven museums across Wales National Museum Cardiff, St Fagans: National History Museum, National Roman Legion Museum, Caerleon, Big Pit: National Coal Museum, Blaenafon, National Wool Museum, Dre-fach Felindre, National Slate Museum, Llanberis and the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea.

Plans for all-Wales library card to improve access and save money

September 4, 2015

The Welsh Government has announced plans for an all-Wales library card, which would allow users to access library services wherever they are in Wales and could save local authorities up to 70% on current spend.

A single library card across Wales would mean users could borrow and return books in any library across the country. It would also open up access for people to take advantage of free computer use in libraries no matter where in the country they are and create a national e-books and e-zines service with free seamless downloads.

The plan is a step closer today as the Welsh Government awarded a single-supplier framework contract to SirsiDynix, one of the largest library management system vendors in the world, with customers in 70 countries.

Currently library users can only use public library cards within the local authorities they are registered. The system would provide a new and modern approach, which will benefit customers, for example those who work in a different local authority to which they are registered, and widen choice.

The move could also save local authorities up to 70% on current costs, with all local authorities adopting one single system rather than each having individual ones, as is the current practice.

The Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Ken Skates said:

“We remain committed to supporting libraries to develop, improve and modernise so that, wherever possible, they can become more sustainable and cope with the challenges services across Wales are currently facing.

“I am pleased we’ve awarded a single-supplier framework and are a step closer to establishing an all-Wales library card, which will not only improve services for current users but also encourage more people to sign-up and use the excellent services available at libraries across Wales.”

Local Authorities will gradually adopt the new system, with the six north Wales authorities the first to do so in 2015-16.
The contract has been procured by the National Procurement Service (NPS), a Welsh Government hosted organisation that has been established to generate annual savings across the public sector and deliver value for money and benefits to the Welsh economy.
Finance and Government Business Minister, Jane Hutt said:
“At a time of increasing budget pressures, the National Procurement Service is playing a vital role in generating annual savings on common and repetitive spend across the public sector in Wales. This new contract for a library management system will not only generate 70% savings for local authorities across Wales but will also provide the public with a range of new services to enhance their use of libraries wherever they are in the country.”
The Vice President of Sales for Sirsi Dynix, Barbara Pacut, said:
“We share in Welsh Government’s vision of a fully integrated, national public library service and understand, through experience, how crucial the technology solution underpinning this service will be. This project is our opportunity to deliver a state of the art, totally integrated, world class experience to the public and library services staff of Wales.”

Steve Hardman, Swansea Library Service Manager and member of the Society of Chief Librarians Wales, said:

“The Society of Chief Librarians in Wales has worked closely with colleagues in Welsh Government and NPS to ensure the new system has both financial and customer benefits. Given the current financial climate it is hoped that the savings made can be used to reduce the impact on further reductions within the library sector.”

Blaenavon library reopens in new home

September 3, 2015

Blaenavon library has reopened at its new home in the Blaenavon World Heritage Centre.

Opening hours will be 10am – 5pm, Tuesday to Saturday, with self service access to quick choice and local history books on Sundays.

Customers will also be able to access a range of council services including the customer care centre, community meeting rooms, education and learning facilities, and a café with public internet access.

Councillor Lewis Jones, executive member for regeneration, said: “This move secures a library service in Blaenavon and means we can give our customers a better service all around.

“Customers can now enjoy a coffee while reading the morning newspapers, browse the selection of books, pay their council tax, order recycling containers and access a host of other council services, all in one location.”

The Bridgend Mobile Library – Do you know all that your mobile library has to offer?

September 2, 2015

As well as being the place to pick up a great new read, local residents can now step on-board Bridgend County Borough’s Mobile Library service for advice on using a computer and completing things online.

New digital equipment is enabling residents to use the internet on the Mobile Libraries to answer any queries they have, pay bills and carry out other online tasks such as internet banking. Residents can also access their favourite magazine online for free if they are signed up to the library service.

The Mobile Library service provides a wide range of books for adults and children, audio books, DVDs and information sources and can also provide large print books, while it has a stair lift for wheelchair users.

Any of the 350,000 books in libraries throughout Bridgend County Borough can be reserved free of charge and delivered to you by the Mobile Library. Residents are able to sign up when they visit their local stop if they aren’t already a library member.

For Blaengarw residents who currently use the Mobile Library service, please note that a new stop is being introduced which will service that area. The Mobile Library will visit The Strand in Blaengarw at 9.45am – 10.45am this Thursday 27 August, and will return every three weeks.

Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, Health and Wellbeing, Councillor Phil White: “The Mobile Libraries which serve our communities are a great help to residents who aren’t able to make it to a library branch.

“In particular, it enables people who may have mobility issues or difficulties with transport to still benefit from using the libraries’ services and what they have to offer. The new laptop and internet facilities are a brilliant addition as so many things are now easier to do online.”

To view the timetable for your nearest Mobile Library stop, please visit If you are house-bound and would like to learn more about the libraries book-link service, which can deliver books to you at home, please call 01656 754800 to find out more.