UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

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Guest Post: Web 2.0 At The National Library of Wales

Posted by ukwebfocusguest on 7 Nov 2008

In the guest blog post published on 1th October 2008 Jo Alcock Hannah Hiles described how the library at the University of Wolverhampton is engaging with use of Web 2.0.  Details of this work were included in the paper on Library 2.0: Balancing the Risks and Benefits to Maximise the Dividends which I recently presented at the Bridging Worlds 2008 conference in Singapore.

This month’s guest blog post has been written by another co-author of the paper. Below Paul Bevan, National Library of Wales describes how a national library is engaging with the opportunities provided by Web 2.0. Paul has recently been appointed to the post of Senior Research Officer (Web 2.0) and, as he describes is “very keen to work with libraries and librarians to explore all areas of emerging Web approaches“.  If you have an interest in the issues described in this post, feel free to respond to Paul, either on this blog or directly with Paul.

The National Library of Wales is one of the great libraries of the world and has a remit to:

collect, preserve and give access to all kinds and forms of recorded knowledge, especially relating to Wales and the other Celtic countries, for the benefit of the public, including those engaged in research and learning

As a result our readers represent a extremely varied demographic, reflecting the diversity of our published material, archival and other collections.

The Web and the online delivery of resources has been integral to the Library’s service portfolio for many years, providing a access to its resources in a way which helps to overcome distance and availability issues. To this end, the Library has an extensive digitization programme which has provided virtual access to some of the greatest treasures in the collections through a ‘Digital Mirror‘ using innovative access methods to deliver an enhanced user experience for remote readers.

Looking to the Future: Web 2.0

We’re constantly building on this solid foundation by seeking new ways of providing access to our resources and ‘Web 2.0’ and the Social Web are key to realising the goal of enhancing our remote provision. The use of Web 2.0 approaches to achieve Library 2.0 delivery is ingrained in the new Library strategy ‘Shaping the Future’ [pdf] which outlines the Library’s desire to explore collaborative and diverse models using external resources. This will allow the Library to leverage Web platforms which are heavily focused on user engagement in order to deliver future services. Leading up to this shift in emphasis for Web developments the Library conducted a review of how a National Library might understand the concept of ‘Web 2.0’ and how we might best make use of our existing digital resources in a Web 2.0 environment.

Of course, the we’re not just looking at the way in which we can enhance our collections through new technologies and platforms – the current Web content represents a proportion of the information produced by the Library and there is a ‘hidden’ silo of professional, training and development information (some of which is exposed through the Digital Asset Management Development Wiki, as well as a range of “lost opportunities” (such as guest talks which could in the future be streamed via the Web). Beyond this there are clear examples from other organisations of best practice in using the Web to communicate internally and to share procedures and information through wikis and other technologies.

The Library has begun to increase the level of Web 2.0 services available by creating presences in online environments (including presences on Facebook and YouTube) as well as by beginning to allow reuse of its data – initially through a pilot Wikipedia project. The Library is also developing an XML feed of its events (including exhibitions and talks) through the Typo3-based content management system underlying the Library’s main website.

Third-party Web environments will be key to the future delivery of library services and we’re also actively looking to explore how the exposure of data in open formats can allow the use of leading edge user interfaces and Web front-ends. One concern for the Library is that the ‘spreading out’ of services onto commercial and external sites might conflict with existing policies around accessibility, sustainability, and the commitment to bilingual access.

The Library is also host to a Welsh Assembly Government funded project to provide an innovative and flexible service delivery platform for all types of libraries in Wales. The Web site employs Web 2.0 technologies including social bookmarking and RSS to provide an alternative environment engaging with the public. This project explicitly includes the development of new services and the support of those services, allowing libraries to explore Web 2.0 technologies in a ‘safe’ environment where best practice can be easily shared.

The Library is also home to the not-for-profit company Culturent Cymru, which has taken great steps in bringing new levels of interaction to objects from cultural repositories from all accross Wales. Culturenet Cymru projects include Community Archives Wales – where users can upload their images via Flickr – and Gathering the Jewels– which has recently launched an enhanced GIS interface.

What Next for the National Library of Wales?

The Web’s ever-changing nature provides an exciting and challenging environment for any library service and the National Library of Wales has sought to directly engage with the opportunities that Web 2.0 will offer. In order to best do this the library has recently committed to a six-month review of the possibilities of Web 2.0 and emerging Web Technologies.

In my role as Senior Research Officer (Web 2.0) I will be exploring best practice from knowledge organisations around the world as well as possible technological approaches and content partnerships. The resulting Web 2.0 Strategy will provide the Library with a chance to build upon and mainstream the work detailed above and to explore new ways of working with Library users in a networked environment. I’m very keen to work with libraries and librarians to explore all areas of emerging Web approaches, so feel free to get in touch with me at

13 Responses to “Guest Post: Web 2.0 At The National Library of Wales”

  1. […] Continues @ […]

  2. “In the guest blog post published on 1th September 2008 Hannah Hiles described how the library at the University of Wolverhampton is engaging with use of Web 2.0.”

    Just a quick correction, I was writing about how the press office/marketing team at Keele University use Web 2.0! :-)

  3. My apologies Hannah, I meant to cite Jo Alcock’s guest blog post on 1 October, and not yours on 1 September. I have updated the blog post.

  4. Annette Strauch said

    The National Library of Wales’ website should have places where visitors can comment on (re. books, exhibitions, NLW) – and communicate with the staff.

    In the past, the visitors came to the Library, now the Library has to come to its readers – in our present age – and during a time when NLW faces financial difficulties (as I read on the BBC Wales news last Friday).

    An interesting podcast (weekly) from the Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru would be good.
    Create an own web2.0 site for the Library?

  5. Paul Bevan said

    Hi Annette,

    Thanks for your response – we’ll be looking at all kinds of different ways of using Web2.0 and one of my hopes is that we’ll create a information outlet (page, blog, etc) in the near future… what kind of podcast topics would you suggest?

  6. Annette Strauch said

    Hi Paul,

    how is the NLW Blog going with you? Any progress? I have just discovered this article again today. Thank you – or shall I say diolch yn fawr!

    All the best for 2009 to you in Aberystwyth!

    NLW could have a Twitter account as well – this would be useful & would inform people what’s going on there in Aberystwyth. What is your view on this? It has to be regularly updated though. Some institutions start and then do not carry on I have observed.

    It is a pity one still cannot comment on the Library’s website. No feedback is possible (very static – not dynamic!). There seems to be no connection to the global world.

    A serious NLW Blog could be very interesting – not something like Facebook or similar – but something of a good quality / high standard – and something that would appeal to people in Wales and visitors.
    Re. podcasts: they could be related to some of the Library’s exhibitions, don’t you think; Dylan Thomas or so – even though I still think the Library could be far more contemporary. If you make it interesting people come and people would listen to the podcasts.
    S4C & S4C/Clic has quite an appeal to me. Welsh podcasts – there’s not so much there yet, I think.
    Kind regards, Annnette

  7. Paul Bevan said

    Hi again Annette,

    Thanks for your suggestions – we’re looking at all kinds of microblogging and other solutions which might be useful to our users. Your point about the library’s website is interesting, how would you want it to be ‘dynamic’?


  8. Annette Strauch said

    Hi Paul,

    I am sorry I reply SO late now. I have just found this new entry by chance. How are you getting on, I wonder? Thanks for asking me about the library’s website. I do not have much time to answer in detail but here are some of my thoughts.

    I am a potential user, too. When I came to Wales in the past I always used the NLW. It was good. Short opening times always made it hard, however, if you are used to some other opening hours and to a library where you can actually take books home (SUB Göttingen). The Library has to come more to its users now than in the past. Digital Reading Room. It is easier now with the new media. It is done already by the digitisation projects at NLW which is fantastic in my point of view. Is it within Do you know?

    Ok, re. the NLW website:
    The 100 behind the logo – so last year – or was it two years ago? – but it is as they like it, I think.

    Chapters Lecture: Ffion Hague
    Mon, 02 Feb 09 12:05:00 – under: What’s On // One thinks more about what is actually on at NLW in Aberystwyth

    Research by the Archives and Records Council Wales
    Wed, 21 Jan 09 17:11:00 – interesting questionnaire – putting the reasons into order is too time consuming. I tried to answer it – but I did not like the questionnaire – left it then almost finished.

    IntelliGate 7.7 solution under news – does this mean anything to the ordinary reader? It is of no importance to me.

    Mentioning events on a website – one should always be ahead of time – Artists in Residence – what is next? Events in another section – ahead of time – good!

    BUT: these are just little things – & does not answer your question:

    I miss a section where visitors could actually tell how they enjoyed the Dylan Thomas exhibition for example – FEEDBACK!! This way the Library could interact more with its visitors – like we do here on a guest post: web 2.0 Blog.
    Something like this could be on the website – Ask NLW; some more links; some more names of people one could actually contact as a visitor.

    Microblogging appeals more to many I have observed: short info & straight to the point. To me, it is better than a blog no-one would read.
    A difficult task – web 2.0 at NLW – please tell me how you are getting on.

    Kind regards, Annette

  9. Annette Strauch said

    I am not sure about NLW on YouTube & on Facebook.

    Social interaction I’d regard as a priority, Paul!

    NLW presence on YouTube – I do not like.
    Bilingual should not be a problem.

    Until soon, Annette

  10. Annette Strauch said

    Hi Paul,

    just found this discussion again. Any news? I saw on the NLW website that there are e-mail addresses linked to some of the staff. This is excellent. People can get in touch more easily. I like that.
    Hwyl fawr, Annette

    Do you speak Welsh? I do – we could communicate in Welsh also. Mine is getting a bit rusty.

  11. Annette Strauch said

    Just saw you wrote an entry on the 20th Jan – now it’s 20th Feb. Keep in touch, A,

  12. […] and blog posts (such as recent guest blogs post on use of social networking tools at the National Library of Wales,  Wolverhampton University Library and Brighton Museum and Art […]

  13. […] to engage with new audiences will be familiar to readers of this blog (I provided examples from the National Library of Wales and Brighton Museum and Art Gallery in my talk). It was noticeable, though, that such approaches […]

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