A year at the Assembly Library: A Record of my Proceedings

Published 09/10/2018   |   Last Updated 27/05/2021   |   Reading Time minutes

I’ve had the privilege of spending the last 12 months on a secondment as the Legal Librarian for the National Assembly for Wales. As I prepare to return to my substantive post, I wanted to offer some insights into what the library staff at the Assembly offer and how the Library here differs from others I’ve worked at. Spoiler alert: no shushing or book stamping involved…

The Library at the Assembly forms an integral part of the Assembly’s expert Research Service. We work alongside the policy specialists, bringing our specialist skills of information retrieval and knowledge management to locate authoritative and up-to-date information quickly.

The Library team also provide Assembly Members and their support staff with reliable, trustworthy information that can otherwise be hard to locate. Much of our collection is “grey literature”: documents and reports, often produced by governments or government bodies, that can be hard to find without the help of information specialists.

The Library produces a series of bilingual current awareness alerts to support the work of the Assembly, keeping Members and staff up to date with events at Westminster, Assembly proceedings, and newly published reports and resources.

Trust me, I’m a librarian

Librarians and information professionals are experts in information management, organisation and retrieval. We also follow a professional code of ethics which means that the advice we provide is confidential and impartial. And yes, Google can find millions of results in a nanosecond - but expert library staff offer so much more:

  • can show you how to interpret those results
  • advise on which sources are most current and/or reliable (not always the same thing!)
  • how to tweak your searches so that you get more relevant results

Even better, we know about other, specialised sources of information - there is a dense network of knowledge at our fingertips! We are always happy to offer training to all Assembly Members and staff on our suite of specialised databases and the online Library catalogue. Speaking of which…

Other services the Library can offer (that you might not even know you needed)

  • How to set up Google alerts to receive breaking news on topics - or people – of interest
  • How to perform funding searches to aid constituents. We even have a whole webpage with resources to support constituents
  • Personalised monitoring services offered by the Library – we can alert you to new reports/documents/statistics on areas of interest to you
  • Resources and books on speech writing, parliamentary research, how to chair meetings and many more subjects of interest to those working in a parliamentary setting

Selected highlights

I’ve had such an interesting year at the Assembly that it’s hard to pick only a few highlights. But here goes:

  • Experiencing first-hand the specialised requirements of working for a devolved legislature
  • Passing my Welsh Courtesy Level Exam – bendigedig!
  • Working with Members and support staff from all parties to ensure that the democratic process in Wales is supported with the most accurate evidence and information available.

In brief: the Assembly Library welcomes all staff to the Library and find out how we can support your work.

These are some recent comments from our users -

Eleri Cubbage (Research and Communications Officer to Lynne Neagle AM):

The resources and the staff in the library are brilliant. I like the fact you can easily find the reports and papers that are coming up for debate during that week’s plenary, the latest committee reports and an extensive range of newspapers and magazines. I have yet to find a query that the library staff have not been able to help me with!

Nancy Cavill (Senior Researcher to Julie Morgan AM):

I use the library frequently to pick up information for debates in plenary. I find the research guides very useful, the staff always helpful and the research service blogs timely.

David Melding AM:

Our library and research service constitutes the most powerful source of public policy expertise outside the Welsh Government. Analysis, relevant information and data, and comparative research are at the heart of effective scrutiny and we could not be better served in this regard. The quality of the briefing materials prepared for the Assembly’s committees deserves a special mention as in an AM’s busy schedule there is nothing more helpful than clear, thoughtful and succinct briefings. Over the years I have also been grateful for the assistance I have received with my own work on constitutional questions and without which my books and articles would not have been possible.

Article by Vikki Killington, on secondment from the Library at the Royal College of Nursing Wales to the Research Service