The awards and cash prizes were presented by Rebecca Evans MS, Minister for Finance and Local Government at CILIP Cymru Wales’ Open Day and AGM, celebrating outstanding professional achievements by teams working within library and information services in Wales.
The awards are made by CILIP Cymru (Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals) and are sponsored by the Welsh Government. The Estyn Allan training and development programme - which went live in January 2021 funded by a Welsh government grant of £169,950 - won the award.
The other institution sharing ‘silver’ with Grŵp Llandrillo Menai was further education college Coleg Sir Gâr. The judges stated how “both library services have reinvented their online services, and they are at the very centre of the work of their institutions in bridging the digital divide and bringing digital technology to all their students including disadvantaged and non-traditional learners.” Third place was awarded to the Wales Higher Education Libraries Forum's equality, diversity and inclusion group.
The Library and Learning Technology Service at Grŵp Llandrillo Menai responded to the pandemic by establishing a library technology team to support learners and staff. As well as one-to-one and group sessions, the team were instrumental to the first hybrid teaching and learning conference. The team created a new bilingual study skills site and online subject guides and coordinated a project to supply over a thousand devices to students to facilitate learning from home.
Dr Andrew Eynon, Grŵp Llandrillo Menai Library & ILT manager, said: “The library services’ award was mainly in recognition of how well our service adapted to changes caused by COVID-19. This includes the prompt move to online delivery of support and resources, in addition to developing new services such as the loan of IT hardware to our learners. The award is open to all library sectors in Wales: public, higher education, further education, and the NHS, and this is the first year that further education colleges have been shortlisted for the award.”
Minister Rebecca Evans said: “There were a high number of excellent nominations and I want to say a big thank you to everyone in our libraries who are working so hard to deliver such vital public services."
CILIP Cymru Wales Chair Lou Peck added: “Wales has an incredible library and information service community. We’ve all been through a tough 18 months, but library teams have particularly seen huge disruption with closures and staff being furloughed or redeployed to other departments and roles. That essential lifeline for local communities was suddenly gone.
“There can be no denying the sharp shift in digital demand the COVID-19 pandemic has had, but libraries continue to be resilient showing how they can adapt to changing environments and what society needs. The people in these libraries are the real gems in the community; a huge congratulations to all who took part in this year’s awards.”