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Carmarthenshire’s library service is best in Wales

CARMARTHENSHIRE’S library service is a model for the rest of Wales, according to a Welsh Government report.

The council has been praised for its commitment to the future of its library service and for its forward-thinking approach in creating a new digital learning environment alongside its more traditional offering.

Carmarthenshire is the best in Wales for both its investment in reading materials and spending per head on library provision, as well as the third highest in Wales for PC provision.

Executive Board Member for Culture Cllr Peter Hughes-Griffiths told the Executive Board: “The report praises the commitment of the council to the service itself, it praises our strategy which sets out a robust framework for the future and also the variety of what we provide within the service across the county, for example, reaching new audiences and new users and the work we do around that, responding to the needs of users, hosting taster events with businesses and organising days out to present reading skills for children and adults. They is also praise for the work we do with health and living a healthier lifestyle, which of course also increases the number of users.

“There is very high praise for the service and we can be very proud of that. I would once again like to thank the excellent team that has made this possible. I know the Minister in Welsh Government considers this to be a model to lead the rest of the authorities in Wales.”

The Annual Assessment Report 2017-18 for Welsh Library Standards showed Carmarthenshire had met all of the 12 core entitlements in full and of the 10 quality indicators with targets nine had been achieved in full and one in part.

The report referred to the success of the ‘Makerspace’ project at Ammanford library, providing a model for how traditional and digital provision can be balanced and a blueprint for future digital development across Carmarthenshire.

A state-of-the-art creative store and the first of its kind in Welsh libraries, it includes 3D printers and 3D modelling; DVD, VHS, camera conversion hardware and software; audio recording and editing booths, midi keyboard, mixers, DJ equipment, microphones; video/image recording and editing booths; PCs with recording and editing software, a green screen and much more.

Director of Community Services Jake Morgan said the aim was to turn the libraries into learning zones – so that people could learn in a variety of ways – and there were plans for Makerspace projects at both Carmarthen and Llanelli libraries, subject to funding.

Council Leader Emlyn Dole said when he had visited the Makerspace at Ammanford he had seen children as young as five coding and children aged eight recording their own songs.

“It is a great space, and it brings them into that world early on, something that we have already discussed in the digital context of the City Deal projects,” he said. “It is really great to see, and especially in a library environment.”

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