…for the community’s convenience.
Llyfrgell Porthmadog (LP) or in English, Porthmadog Library, on the west coast of Wales by lovely Snowdonia National Park, shares quarters with the leisure centre.
A few steps from downtown by the supermarket and tennis courts, it’s fronted by a garden with raised plots, potted plants, wooden tables and benches, and a charmingly painted shed.
Sian and Gwen, library assistants, greeted me warmly at the circulation desk.
The foyer is separated from the gymnastics and swimming by a partition with a middle ribbon of frosted glass etched in books and soccer balls highlighting the dual purpose of the building.
Cases of new books, DVDs, top sellers and district informational pamphlets fill the lounge and inside the brick wall, shelves on wheels featuring Quick Choices, Travel, Westerns and Biographies, wend their way around the place.
End panels boast recommendations and everywhere bilingual signs acknowledge that, for many people here, Welsh is the primary tongue.
LP has free wifi throughout the structure and six internet computers for adults (UK card holders can use them whilst here on vacation and overseas visitors are charged 2 pounds per half hour). They can regulate the amount of time individuals are on the station in Children’s.
Online, Resources gives free access to school, literary and test databases, encyclopedias, and the National Library of Wales’ e-subscriptions and trove of old digitized newspapers.
The website is in Welsh, of course. A discreet tab provides the English translation and links go to pertinent sites like the Twitter account, nationwide virtual reference, the family advice service, Open University, and what sounds like a wonderful idea for preserving your heritage – People’s Collection Wales, a multimedia repository for storing your memories.
In good examples of interagency cooperation, the page promotes the local archive, appointments with Macmillan Cancer Support coordinators, and Bookstart, the UK’s national scheme for early reading that supplies parental instructional brochures and baby’s first books.
The atmosphere is cheery – patrons perch on bright furniture and a futuristic vermillion and gray couch by Youth ensures the comfort of tots’ guardians.
LP is part of Llyfrgelloedd Gwynedd, which joins thirteen libraries in this sparsely populated region that was once an ancient kingdom. Materials are chosen by the User Services Manager and a regular bookmobile goes to remote villages. The system also delivers to the mobility challenged and their full time carers. Users can borrow 20 titles for three weeks and checkout two DVD’s for one. There’s no charge for most books, any Welsh language tapes and the electronic books, audios, magazines and comics. Interlibrary loans are all free within Wales except when they buy a brand new book for a specific request. They charge £1 to £7 for books from outside Wales or from the British Library (usually books for study or more specialised volumes).
You can rent a meeting room and teachers can order stuff for classes. Large print texts and items for those with visual impairment are available, as well as therapy books for youngsters trying to overcome problems or understand touchy issues.
I was pleased Anna Yardley Jones, the Llyfrgellydd Ardal (Area Librarian) was there. Though based at LP, she’s responsible for Nefyn, Pwllheli, Cricieth and Blaenau Ffestiniog too, so luckily is full time though her three staffers work more limited hours. Anna studied Welsh History in college and did a joint honors in Welsh and librarianship. She told me they are supported by the council and were able to move here in February 2015 after winning a 250,000 pound grant to become a shared space for residents. It was sad to move from their old premises, but there’s more parking here.
In the children’s area the stacks of audios, novels and easy readers become a smiling steam train and board book bins resemble box cars.
I went during summer when they have several Welsh story and rhyme times which will assist the effort to reach a target of a million Welsh speakers that Anna mentioned.
For the Reading Challenge, Anifail-Ysbiwyr or Animal Agents, LP hands out incentives such as wrist bands, scratch and sniff stickers, key fobs, door hangers and bookmarks. Kids who come three times and take out nine books receive a certificate and a medal. Associated activities include animal shows, movement, music and story sessions and various crafts (participants are wisely advised to wear old clothes). Other branches have Spies Academy (ah, the meaning of Animal “Agents” becomes clear), treasure hunts, face painting, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier…Spider?, and a fairy folk trip to Lyn Barfog, the legendary origin of the country’s black cattle.
Announcements on Facebook appear first in Welsh then below in English. Pictures of customers enjoying head massages, babies playing, tots proudly showing off egg carton monsters or examining crates of critters, and masked kids posing for agent IDs pack the page. A post invites you to join a group making a library mural and banners herald new acquisitions and a host of enticing events like magic and clown shows, picnics, beginner’s web classes, relaxation training, maths revision, book and art sales, wellness walks with refreshments, and 3 D modeling, weaving, art or drama workshops. The holidays bring a Christmas raffle for the small set and adults can fashion felt ornaments.
LP has bimonthly storytimes…
…and story sacks containing pop up and touch and feel books, games and toys. Books Bags have multi sensory contents appropriate for juveniles who have learning disabilities.
Students can spread out by the reference tomes, then treat themselves to a teen title after finishing.
Suitably for a location in a fitness facility, the library presents an array of health and well being programs on subjects like cholesterol, Alzheimer’s, travel insurance and sun safety and has aroma, gardening and music therapy and displays on cancer. Adults attend talks on planting herbs, dementia and energy bills or go to tai chi workouts, get laptop help, listen to poetry in the garden and relieve stress in coloring groups.
Llyfrgell Porthmadog seems to have thought of just about everything to better the lives of citizens.