A team behind a libraries digital training programme and led by the Principal Librarian of Denbighshire County Council has received a coveted accolade.

The Estyn Allan training and development programme has been recognised by CILIP Cymru Wales for its innovative and confidence building work in 2021 and announced as the CILIP Cymru Wales Welsh Library Team of the Year Award.

Funded by a Welsh Government Cultural Recovery Fund grant of £169,950, secured by The Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) in Wales, Estyn Allan went live in January 2021 and has developed 33 trainees from across all 22 public library services in Wales.

SCL Cymru felt that due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, it was vital that a training and development programme to develop library staff skills, knowledge and confidence in delivering bilingual digital activities and promoting library offers and services was needed to enable libraries to reach their potential in engaging with readers and library users online.

Nominated by Helen Pridham from the Awen Cultural Trust, Estyn Allan was led by Bethan Hughes, Principal Librarian of Denbighshire County Council and organised, planned, and delivered by Kerry Pillai from Swansea Libraries. Between January and March 2021 the trainees developed new digital skills and worked together to create public facing content, transforming the digital activity offer of Wales’ public libraries. Two members of Denbighshire Libraries’ staff were amongst the trainees – Mathew Baker and Lois Jones.

Bethan Hughes, Principal Librarian of Denbighshire County Council, said: “I am really proud of the team for getting fully behind Estyn Allan and so pleased their efforts have been recognized by this award. Estyn Allan has made such a positive difference to the digital online capabilities of libraries in Denbighshire and across Wales. It was wonderful to see staff from different services working together and supporting each other. The Estyn Allan team learnt to interview, film, record, edit, publish, design, and publicise. They appeared in front of camera interviewing authors, running reading groups, hosting live events, singing rhymes, and telling stories.

“I was delighted to read the judges’ comments that the strength of the nomination was that it celebrated the bravery and commitment of the staff who took part in the programme and those who led the team in the steering group. The programme has enabled greater collaboration across public libraries in Wales, resulted in the launch of new digital bilingual and specific Welsh language services and products, has upskilled staff, and has built the momentum for future projects.”

Cllr Tony Thomas, Lead Member for Housing and Communities, said: “We are delighted that the work of our Principal Librarian of Denbighshire County Council in leading the team behind the Estyn Allan programme has been recognised. This programme has really given a positive boost to our digital online services we provide at libraries across the county and we thank Bethan for all her work in bringing this to life during the difficult months of the pandemic.”

The Welsh Library Team of the Year Award was 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.

As a presenter of the Welsh Library Team of the Year Award, the Minister said: “The Estyn Allan training programme is an excellent example of how libraries right across Wales can work together to improve services. It developed staff skill, knowledge and confidence in delivering bilingual digital activities and promoting library offers and services. 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.”