Monday, 17 September 2012

Tour of the National Assembly for Wales Library

On Friday 14/09/2012, I visited the National Assembly for Wales Library. The library is situated on the 3rd floor of Ty Hywel, behind the Senedd. It was set up in 1999, the year that the Welsh assembly was established. The debating chamber was based in Ty Hywel until 2006 when the Senedd was built, and the offices of Assembly Members are still based there. Ty Hywel is connected to the Senedd by a skyway.

Ty Hywel, Cardiff Bay

I was one of a group of three people taking part of the library tour on that day. It was a very busy day for Cardiff Bay with the opening day of the Wales Rally GB and the Senedd hosting a Welcome Home celebration event for Welsh Olympians and Paralympian athletes.

After going through airport-type security scanning, we were met by Lucy Hodson, an Information Specialist for the National Assembly of Wales. She led us to the library where we were greeted by the Head Librarian, Stephanie Wilson.

Stephanie showed us round the library and outlined in details the nature of the services the library offers.

The front area of the library
The library provides a reference and information service for Assembly Members, officials of the Assembly and support staff. It gives access to official publications, reference books, newspapers, periodicals, electronic resources and monitoring services. It is part of the Research Service which provides detailed and impartial information in support of Assembly Members in their committee and plenary work. On average, there are 35-40 researchers, specialists in different subjects, working as a team at Research Service. They work on the 4th floor of Ty Hywel. Much of their research information is available on-line.

The library has different types of information resources including:
  • Assembly publications
  • Documents laid
  • Statistics
  • National and regional newspapers
  • Periodicals
  • Reference books, maps and atlases
  • Learning collection for self-development

A comfortable reading area

Some of these resources are available electronically and the library has subscribed to them as well as to some electronic databases that are relevant to the Assembly. These include:

  • A library catalogue with full-text links where available
  • Electronic newspapers and periodicals
  • Databases such as GRANTfinder, European Sources Online, LexisLibrary, Justis Parliament, Turn2Us and Newsstand
  • A toolkit to help with constituency casework
  • A weekly update of new publications

The quiet work area

Research Service Publications are compiled mainly for Assembly Members; however, they are also available to the public on-line. Print copies are available from the library. Publications include:

  • Research papers analysing current issues relevant to the Assembly
  • Research notes covering topics of current interest
  • Quick guides to complex or technical topics
  • Constituency factsheets
All publications are bilingual.

Print copies of Research Service Publications near the enquiry desk

The library also provides monitoring services on the Assembly internet site. For example:
  • Progress of Assembly Bills
  • Legislative Consent Motions
  • Consent Motions
  • Westminster Business
  • Key events in the development of the National Assembly for Wales
  • The National Assembly for Wales and Devolution in Wales : A Bibliography
The Head Librarian mentioned that there are no fines to the borrowers and the loan period is very flexible. The library has a reading area with comfortable sofas, two networked and four stand-alone computers in a quiet work area. WIFI also available. The main inquiry desk is manned by a researcher during office hours. Library staff work in the area behind the enquiry desk. 

Staff office (front) and in the background, some of the library collection

The tour went quickly and I came away with a greater understanding of how a government library works and what they do to support the information needs of the Assembly Members. We thanked the Head Librarian, Stephanie Wilson. Following the library visit, we were invited to the tour of the Senedd and visited the debating chamber, the Siambr. To our surprise, we even saw the torch for the 2012 Olympic Games!

The Senedd

The Olympic torch

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Thing 11: Mentoring

At my last appraisal, Sally Wilkinson, who was my manager at that time, talked to me about becoming a Chartered Librarian. She also mentioned that she would be very happy to be my mentor. This was a generous offer under the circumstances as she was in the process of relocating to another university to become the head of the library there. I appreciated her taking this extra responsibility of mentoring somebody at her previous workplace and was grateful for her interest in my career and her professional guidance. This was a valuable opportunity for me and at the earliest opportunity, I registered for the CILIP chartership. I have now completed my PPDP (Personal Professional Development Plan). Sally continues to be my mentor for the CILIP chartership. With her support, I intend to complete the necessary training and to give a satisfactory report for assessment at the end of the process.