Headlines: March 24th, 2005

A million pound scheme has been launched in Wales to improve access to library services and to promote partnership working between different kinds of library services. The project is designed to put libraries at the heart of the community. The news comes only two days after a report from the Tavistock Institute detailed the impact that ICT training for library staff could have on the future of library services.The Welsh scheme includes plans to make library catalogues available online so that both users and staff can locate books and other resources held by libraries throughout Wales. This would also mean giving the public direct access to resources held in other libraries.

The scheme would also create an online reference source of books, encyclopaedias and daily newspapers and there will be a national marketing plan to attract more people to use libraries. There will also be further development of skills for library staff.

As well as launching ‘@ Your Library’, Welsh Assembly Culture Minister, Alun Pugh has announced that ‘Book Prescription Wales’ will be unveiled in June. This will be a system giving family doctors the option of prescribing high-quality self-help books for patients on topics, including anxiety, stress, eating disorders, bereavement, compulsive disorders and low self-esteem. The books will be made available at every local library across Wales.

Mr. Pugh, who also announced a grant of 35,000 pounds for the Archives and Records Council Wales to provide IT equipment for 13 local archives offices, highlighted his own experiences to stress the importance of the library service. “Library services remain as relevant today as to our parents and grandparents, many of whom educated themselves from the library’s resources. It’s important for us to invest in these services for future generations to benefit from the wealth of resources that libraries can offer,” he said.