Pwyllgor Diwylliant, y Gymraeg a Chyfathrebu - Y Bumed Senedd
Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee - Fifth Senedd06/12/2018
Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol
Committee Members in Attendance
|Bethan Sayed AM||Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor|
|Dai Lloyd AM|
|David Melding AM|
|Jenny Rathbone AM|
|Rhianon Passmore AM|
Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol
Others in Attendance
|Helgard Krause||Prif Weithredwr, Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru|
|Chief Executive, Welsh Books Council|
|Linda Tomos||Llyfrgellydd Cenedlaethol, Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru|
|National Librarian, National Library of Wales|
|Professor M. Wynn Thomas||Cadeirydd, Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru|
|Chair, Welsh Books Council|
|Rhodri Glyn Thomas||Llywydd, Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru|
|President, National Library of Wales|
Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol
Senedd Officials in Attendance
|Adam Vaughan||Dirprwy Glerc|
Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.
The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.
Cynhaliwyd y cyfarfod yng Nghanolfan Celf Aberystwyth.
The meeting was held in Aberystwyth Arts Centre.
Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 9:59.
The meeting began at 9:59.
Rŷm ni'n gyhoeddus nawr, ac wedyn gallwn ni symud ymlaen yn hynny o beth at eitem 2, craffu blynyddol ar—
We are in public session now, and so we can move on to item 2, which is the annual scrutiny—
Chair, if I may, I'd just like to declare the fact that I've been a former member of the books council and the executive council in the past.
Ocê. Diolch yn fawr iawn.
Okay. Thank you very much.
Eitem 2, craffu blynyddol ar Lyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru, a chroeso i Rhodri Glyn Thomas, llywydd y llyfrgell, a hefyd i Linda Tomos, sef, y llyfrgellydd cenedlaethol. Fel rydych chi'n gwybod, fel arfer rydym ni'n mynd mewn i gwestiynau a themâu gwahanol. Felly, os yw hynny iawn, awn ni'n syth i mewn i gwestiynau.
Y cwestiwn cyntaf sydd gennyf yw: yng nghyd-destun blaenoriaethau'r llyfrgell, a allech chi amlinellu beth ydyn nhw inni yma heddiw? Sut ydych chi'n gweu yr hyn yr ydych chi'n ei wneud fel llyfrgell i mewn i rai o brif amcanion Llywodraeth Cymru, sef, er enghraifft, y Ddeddf llesiant cynhwysol, sef, yr hyn y mae Llywodraeth Cymru wedi rhoi lot o emphasis arno yn ddiweddar, neu strategaethau eraill Llywodraeth Cymru sydd o bwys ichi?
Item 2 is the annual scrutiny of the National Library of Wales. A warm welcome to Rhodri Glyn Thomas, the president of the library, and Linda Tomos, the national librarian. As you will know, we usually go straight into questions, and they are themed, so, if it's okay, we will do the same today.
My first question is in the context of the priorities of the library. Can you outline what those priorities are currently, and how do you interweave what you do as a library into the main objectives of the Welsh Government, for example, the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, which the Welsh Government have placed a great deal of emphasis on, or other strategies of the Welsh Government that may be of importance to you?
Diolch yn fawr iawn. Diolch am y gwahoddiad. Rŷm ni, wrth reswm, yn falch i fod yma.
O ran ein blaenoriaethau ni, mae hynny wedi cael ei amlinellu yn ein cynllun strategol ni, sydd wedi cael ei dderbyn gan Lywodraeth Cymru, ac mae'r cynllun strategol yn nodi'n glir iawn mai ein bwriad ni ydy dilyn y llwybr digidol, ac mae gennym ni ein swyddogaethau craidd fel llyfrgell genedlaethol. Ond, o ran y dyfodol, y bwriad ydy datblygu'r llyfrgell i fod yn llyfrgell digidol, ac fel rhan ganolog o'r strategaeth hynny—ac mae hyn hefyd yn y cynllun strategol—y mae bwriad i gartrefu'r archif darlledu cyflawn i fynd ochr yn ochr a'r casgliadau eraill sydd gyda ni.
O ran y Ddeddf llesiant cenedlaethol, fe gaiff Linda esbonio ein bwriadu ni yn y fan honno.
Thank you very much, and thanks for the invitation. Naturally, we're very pleased to be here.
In terms of our priorities, they've been outlined in our strategic plan, which has been accepted by the Welsh Government, and the strategic plan does identify very clearly that our intention is to follow the digital pathway, and we have our core functions as a national library. However, in terms of the future, the intention is to develop the library to be a digital library, and as a central part of that strategy—and this is also in the strategic plan—is the intention to house the entire broadcasting archive to sit side by side with the other collections that we have.
In terms of the well-being of future generations Act, Linda can explain our intentions in that area.
Yn amlwg, mae hi yn bwnc pwysig i ni. Rydym ni'n cael ein henwi yn y Ddeddf, ac mae gennym ni ddyletswyddau statudol. Pwrpas y llyfrgell genedlaethol ydy gwarchod etifeddiaeth a gwaddol diwylliant a threftadaeth Cymru, ac rydym ni'n croesawu'n fawr iawn yr egwyddorion tu ôl i'r Ddeddf. Ar y sail honno, mae yna sawl maes lle rydym ni eisiau cyfrannu'n frwd i nodau'r Ddeddf. Mae hefyd warchod yr iaith Gymraeg, ac mae'r llyfrgell eto yn sefydliad hollol ddwyieithog, ac rydym ni'n gweld ein bod ni'n gallu rhoi cyfraniad pwysig i'r nodau y mae'r Ddeddf wedi'u gosod yn y maes hwnnw. Yn ymarferol, rydw i'n meddwl ei bod yn bwysig inni ffeindio ffyrdd lle rydych chi yn gallu casglu tystiolaeth i ddangos, tu hwnt i'r egwyddorion a gwerthoedd, ein bod ni'n cyflawni rhywbeth yn y pen draw. Rydym ni wedi bod yn trafod gyda Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru y math o dystiolaeth y byddech chi'n disgwyl ei gweld pan fyddwch chi'n craffu ar ein gwaith ni yn y maes yma.
Rŷm ni'n ceisio gwneud astudiaeth achos, i ddechrau, gyda gwarchod ffilm. Mae project gennym ni ar hyn o bryd i warchod, i greu gwaith cadwraeth, ac i roi mynediad at yr archif ffilm. O hynny, rydym ni'n gobeithio y gallwn ni ddangos ein bod ni'n ymateb mewn ffordd wirioneddol i'r her. Mae hi yn her, rydw i'n meddwl, oherwydd mae'r Ddeddf yn gofyn inni wneud hyn am byth, ac, ar sail hynny, mae'n rhaid i'n syniadau ni a'n strategaethau ni fod yn dymor hir.
Ond rydw i yn teimlo'n hyderus ein bod ni wedi gwneud cychwyn da. Rydym ni wedi eistedd lawr a meddwl trwy le y byddwn ni yn gwneud gwahaniaeth, ac, wrth gwrs, rydym ni eisiau cydweithio. Mae Cymru Hanesyddol, er enghraifft, yn rhoi partneriaeth a sylfaen inni allu cydweithio gyda chyrff eraill. Mae'r comisiwn brenhinol wedi'i gydleoli gyda ni yn y llyfrgell. Mae hynny yn rhoi cyfleoedd i ni gydweithio â nhw yn y maes yna.
Ond buaswn i'n dweud bod gwarchod, rhoi mynediad a gofalu bod y gwaddol amhrisiadwy ac unigryw yma yn cael ei gadw gennym ni yn Aberystwyth a thu hwnt, ac, fel oedd y llywydd yn awgrymu, mae'n bwysig iawn, iawn ein bod ni yn ymestyn allan i lefydd eraill yng Nghymru a rhoi mynediad at ein casgliadau ni iddyn nhw yn ogystal â phobl sydd mor ffodus â gallu teithio i Aberystwyth.
Clearly, this is an important issue for us. We are named in the legislation and we have statutory responsibilities under it. The purpose of the national library is to safeguard the heritage and culture of Wales, and we very much welcome the principles underpinning the Act. On that basis, there are a number of areas where we wish to contribute to the aims and goals of the Act. Protecting the Welsh language of course is an important part of that, and the library is an entirely bilingual organisation. We do see that we have an important contribution to make in terms of the goals set out in the legislation in relation to the Welsh language. On a practical level, I think it's important that we find ways and means whereby you can gather evidence that demonstrates, over and above the principles and values, that we are actually delivering. We have been discussing with the Wales Audit Office the kind of evidence that you would expect to see when you scrutinise our activities in this area.
We are trying to draw up a case study, first of all, with film preservation. At the moment, we are seeking to do some conservation work and to provide access to a film archive. From there, we hope to demonstrate that we are responding in a tangible way to the challenge, and I think it is a challenge, because the legislation asks us to do this in perpetuity, and, in that regard, our ideas and strategies have to work in the long term.
But I do feel confident that we have made a strong start. We have sat down and thought through where we could make a difference, and, of course, we do wish to collaborate. Historic Wales, for example, provides us with a foundation for collaboration with other organisations. The royal commission is jointly located with us at the library, and that also provides us with opportunities to collaborate with them in this area.
But I would say that safeguarding, providing access and ensuring that the invaluable and unique legacy that we hold is retained here in Aberystwyth and is made available elsewhere, and, as the chair suggested, it's very important that we reach out to other parts of Wales and provide access to our collections to them as well as to those people who are fortunate enough to travel to Aberystwyth.
A oeddech chi wedi mynd at y swyddfa archwilio oherwydd eu bod nhw'n dweud bod yna ddiffyg manylder yn yr hyn yr oeddech chi'n ei wneud, neu oherwydd yr oeddech chi eisiau ei wneud e mewn ffordd wahanol? Beth oedd y cysyniad y tu ôl i wneud hynny? Hefyd, beth yw'ch barn chi ynglŷn â'r ffaith eich bod chi wedi dweud bod angen mwy o amser ichi ddatblygu strategaethau? Yn yr Alban, er enghraifft, mae yna strategaeth sydd yn fwy tymhorol o ran yr amserlen wleidyddol. A fyddai hynny'n rhywbeth a fyddai'n eich siwtio chi yn well?
Had you gone to the Wales Audit Office because they said that there was a lack of detail in what you were doing, or because you wanted to do things in a different way? What was the idea behind doing that? Also, what's your opinion about the fact that you've said that you need more time to develop your strategies? In Scotland, for example, there is a strategy that is longer term in terms of the political timetable. Would that suit you better?
Byddai hynny yn sicr yn rhywbeth a fyddai’n fuddiol iawn. Mae’r swyddfa archwilio wedi nodi hynny fel un o’r prif sialensiau sy’n wynebu’r llyfrgell—ein bod ni ond yn cael gwybodaeth am gyllideb flwyddyn wrth flwyddyn, a byddai cael amserlen hirach yn ein galluogi ni i baratoi’n well. Ond mae’n deg dweud bod y swyddfa archwilio hefyd wedi cymeradwyo ein cynlluniau strategol ni hyd at y flwyddyn 2021, ac felly maen nhw’n hapus gyda’r cynllunio rŷm ni'n ei wneud o fewn yr amgylchiadau sy’n ein hwynebu ni.
That would certainly be very beneficial. The audit office has noted that as one of the major challenges facing the library—that we only receive year-on-year budgetary information, and that having a longer timetable would enable us to prepare more effectively. But it is fair to say that the audit office has signed off our strategic proposals up until 2021, and so they are content with the planning that we have done within the circumstances facing us.
Ym maes y Ddeddf llesiant, rydw i’n meddwl bod y swyddfa archwilio’n siarad â bob corff sy’n cael ei enwi i weld beth fydd y ffurf ymarferol o allu casglu tystiolaeth er mwyn eich bod chi fel pwyllgor yn gallu craffu ar y casgliad. Ar sail hynny, rydw i’n meddwl, nid ydym ni wedi mynd atyn nhw—maen nhw wedi gwahodd trafodaeth i weld am ffurf ymarferol o sicrhau eich bod chi’n hapus bod y llyfrgell a chyrff eraill yn ymateb i’r her.
In the area of the future generations Act, I think that the Wales Audit Office is speaking to every body that is named to see what the practical ways will be of gathering evidence in order that you, as a committee, can scrutinise the collection. And on that basis, I think, we haven't gone to them—they have invited a discussion to see the practical ways of ensuring that you are happy that the library and other bodies are responding to that challenge.
I just wonder—I know it's early days for the well-being of future generations Act, but in terms of your strategic development and, perhaps, looking further into the future, but in areas where you've at least got to do some planning in terms of what you might be thinking, has anything changed because of your use of the Act?
I think it's been very helpful in, perhaps, concentrating minds. In some ways for the library, we are long-term in our strategic thinking and we are always very sensitive to ensure that these collections are owned by the people of Wales, and, therefore, it is our duty to look after them, but also to provide access to this generation but also to future generations. So, from that perspective, we very much welcomed the ambition of the Act. I think we are in a similar position to other bodies in working with, particularly, the Wales Audit Office, and the office of the commissioner, of course, to identify what difference and what impact our work will make to the success of the implementation of the Act. So, I would say that it actually reinforces our values and our ambition, but we are now trying to find practical ways to demonstrate that the Act is having a greater impact than perhaps otherwise would be the case.
And what about key staff? Do they get trained about the provisions of the Act and the way it may, you know, affect intergeneration decision making, which, on collections, is a huge factor about what might be valued more within the present generation than in the future? These are difficult judgments, so I just wonder—
Well, I think it's something—library staff, in fairness, and certainly my colleagues in the library, I've always been very impressed with, because they have this long-term mentality in their work. They are always thinking about—not just for this generation—what they'll be preserving, why are we preserving it and how we preserve it. Because, of course, in the digital arena, we have to make sure that that material is available, and that's a major challenge for all national libraries. The physical, printed material—well, we know how long a printed page lasts. We know how long a manuscript lasts—virtually indestructible, I'm pleased to say. But when it comes to digital files, you're talking about, what, 18 months in terms of ensuring access. So, we are leading on digital preservation in Wales and we see this as a major part of our work for future generations, in that we are helping not only ourselves but also other bodies to tackle this enormous challenge of ensuring future access to digital material. And that, I think, is probably a practical example of where the library is leading, and I hope will continue to lead, and help us all reach a position, I think, where the Act is meaningful beyond the values and the statements that, clearly, we are making. So, I think that's probably a practical example of where we're trying to do it.
In terms of training—yes, all the library staff have received sessions about our statutory responsibilities under the Act, and I hope that in terms of the timetable, we are certainly very keen to get on with it because it reinforces what we do anyway. But I think it is important that we do this in a way where the evidence is clear that we are having an impact beyond, 'Yes, well, we're doing it anyway.' We really need to demonstrate, I think, that the Act has encouraged us and has stimulated us to work in partnership on the digital material, for example, but also that everybody is aware. Clearly, there are environmental considerations that my colleagues are looking at very carefully. It's always difficult in a historic building to try and meet all the environmental requirements, and, of course, our collections require environmental control. But we are going to implement a carbon management plan next year to lessen our carbon usage, our carbon footprint, and we are, of course, implementing photovoltaic cells, for example, to try and lower our energy costs—energy is one of our largest costs in the library. All of this, I hope, is leading us towards being far more efficient and effective, and I'm sure the Act has been a stimulus for us to do that.
On that particular point around the digital interface, and you mentioned that Wales is leading the way on that particular pathway, and, obviously, perishability around that digital material is a key issue, so how are you working in partnership across the UK and Europe? Also, in that regard, the strategic partnership with Cadw was, I believe, not welcomed in any shape, way or form, so if you could just very briefly—if I may, Chair—just dig into that slightly.
Are you talking about Historic Wales?
Well, the digital to start with—the library was a very early adopter of digital technology. We've been digitising material for at least 20 years, and, of course, therefore have challenges because the material we digitised 20 years ago may have to be redigitised. We are leading a consortium in Wales of other archive services and other bodies who feel that this challenge needs to be addressed. We are part of the Digital Preservation Coalition, which is a UK—we are prominent in that coalition. And, in fact, it's an international issue for us as a national library. I think our role—because, for us, it is an important part of our work, we have to make sure that this material remains accessible. We are very keen to share that experience and expertise with other bodies because, between all of us, we will find ways forward. But it is something that needs investment, and I'm very grateful to the Welsh Government for providing us with funding to lead that coalition of bodies, but I do think that, going forward, we will need to recognise that digitisation and digital management has a cost, and, therefore, are we looking closely at what that cost will be for individual bodies? I'm sure, individually and collectively, you're aware of how many millions of e-mails and papers that you are managing on a daily basis. That is a far, far higher volume of material than you would've previously done if you were using printed material or manuscript material. And therefore, I do think it's important that the Government and all bodies—public and private—acknowledge the challenge that is facing us and really start to get serious about digital preservation.
But with regard to—I don't know if it's going to be dealt with later—the issue around the partnership with Cadw—. Because the same issues are being faced across the whole of the public and private sectors, so it would seem to be opportunistic to be working very closely with them.
Mae'r bartneriaeth gyda'r gwahanol gyrff o fewn y maes yn parhau, ac mae'r llyfrgell genedlaethol yn chwarae rhan flaenllaw yn y trafodaethau hynny. Rŷch chi'n gwbl gywir i ddweud bod yr un problemau'n wynebu’r cyrff i gyd, ac felly mae'n bwysig eu bod nhw'n trafod ac yn ystyried y materion yma ar y cyd.
The partnership with the different bodies within the area continues, and the national library plays a prominent role in those discussions. You are very right to say that the same problems face all bodies, and so it's important that they are discussing and considering these issues jointly.
Y prif bwnc, rydw i'n meddwl, sydd wedi bod o dan sylw ym mhartneriaeth Cymru Hanesyddol— . Yn bersonol, rydw i'n ei groesawu o'n fawr iawn. Mae'n bwysig iawn, iawn fod y llyfrgell yn cydweithio, ac mae Cymru Hanesyddol yn rhoi cyfle i ni gydweithio fel sector. Y prif faes eleni ydy sgiliau, a'r pwnc pwysig iawn, iawn yw'r angen inni feithrin sgiliau proffesiynol, a sgiliau digidol yn enwedig, a'n bod ni'n annog pobl ifanc i ddod mewn i'r sector a bod pobl ifanc yn teimlo bod yna yrfa i'w gael yn y sector. Mae o, i mi, yn llawer, lawer mwy effeithiol os ydym ni'n cydweithio fel sector â chyrff eraill ac, wrth gwrs, â'r undebau llafur, sydd yn rhan flaenllaw o'r gwaith sydd wedi digwydd efo sgiliau. Felly, rydw i'n meddwl bod hynny'n enghraifft dda o le mae Cymru Hanesyddol wedi llwyddo i wneud rhywbeth y byddai wedi bod yn anodd i'r cyrff ei wneud ar ben eu hunain. Ac rydw i'n gobeithio y bydd hyn yn parhau i mewn i feysydd eraill.
The main issue, I think, that has been covered by the Historic Wales partnership—. Personally, I welcome it very much. It's very important that the library co-operartes and collaborates, and Historic Wales does give us an opportunity to collaborate as a sector. The main area that we've covered this year is skills, and the hugely important subject is the need to nurture and develop professional skills, and digital skills particularly, and that we encourage young people to come into the sector and for young people to feel that there is a career path for them within the sector. For me, it is far more effective if we collaborate as a sector with other bodies and, of course, with the trade unions, which are a prominent part of the work that's been happening on skills. So, I do think that that is a good example of where Historic Wales has succeeded to do something that would've been difficult for the individual bodies to do alone. And I do hope that this will continue into other areas.
Ie, down ni nôl at rai o'r materion hynny. Cwestiwn arall gen i oedd ynglŷn â'r dangosyddion allweddol. Maen nhw'n dangos nad yw 12 allan o'r 20 wedi cyrraedd yr amcan yn y dangosyddion penodol hynny. A oes yna resymeg dros hynny? Mae rhai ohonyn nhw'n agos, mae'n rhaid imi ddweud—splitting hairs, efallai—ond mae rhai eraill, efallai, yn fwy amlwg yn wahanol i'r prif amcan penodol. Felly, pam hynny?
Yes, we'll return to some of those issues later. Another question that I had was about the key performance indicators, which show that 12 out of the 20 haven't been reached in terms of the objective in those specific indicators. Is there a reason for that? Some of them are close, I have to say—I may be splitting hairs on some of those—but others, perhaps, are more obvious in terms of being different in terms of the objective. So, why is that?
Wel, os gallaf i ddelio â'r dangosyddion pwysicaf, o ran ymwelwyr, roedd y targed yn 75,000, a'r ffigwr a gyrhaeddwyd oedd 71,219, sef 95 y cant. Ac yna ar-lein, y targed oedd 1.8 miliwn, a'r ffigwr a gyrhaeddwyd oedd 1.515296 miliwn, felly 84 y cant. Felly, mae o dan, ychydig, y targed ond mae'n 10 y cant o gynnydd ar yr hyn a gafwyd llynedd. Felly, rydym ni'n gweithio i'r cyfeiriad cywir ac mae'n debyg fod y targed a osodwyd ychydig yn rhy heriol, ond mae 10 y cant o gynnydd, rydw i'n meddwl, yn dangos ein bod ni'n symud i'r cyfeiriad cywir.
Yr un ffigwr, hwyrach, sy'n siomedig ydy'r eitemau newydd—y darllenwyr digidol cofrestredig, lle'r oedd y targed yn 15,000 a'r ffigwr yn 6,180, sef 41 y cant. Nawr, gyda hynny, y broblem ydy, gyda llawer iawn o'n heitemau digidol ni, nid oes rhaid cofrestru er mwyn cael mynediad atyn nhw. Mae'n rhaid inni edrych ar hynny, oherwydd mae'r ffigwr, wedyn, yn ffigwr sy'n adlewyrchu'n anghywir ar y defnydd sy'n cael ei wneud. Ac wrth ein bod ni'n mynd ar hyd y llwybr digidol yma, mae'n rhaid inni sicrhau bod pobl sy'n cael mynediad digidol yn cael eu cofrestru, a byddai'r ffigwr hynny llawer iawn yn uwch.
Felly, ar y cyfan, rydym ni'n hapus iawn. Rydym yn symud i'r cyfeiriad cywir: mae eitemau newydd digidol, er enghraifft, ac mae yna gynnydd yn y fan honno—rydym ni uwchben y targed yn sylweddol—ac o ran y cyrff allanol sy'n bwcio'r llyfrgell, roeddem ni 464 y cant uwchben y targed. Felly, ar y cyfan, rydym ni'n symud i'r cyfeiriad cywir ac mae yna gynnydd o ble'r oeddem ni y llynedd a'r blynyddoedd blaenorol.
Well, if I could deal with the most important indicators, in terms of visitor numbers, the target was 75,000 and the figure achieved was 71,219, which is 95 per cent of the target. And then online, the target was 1.8 million, and the actual figure was 1.515296 million, so that's 84 per cent of the target. So, yes, it's below the target, but it's a 10 per cent increase on what was delivered last year. So, we are moving in the right direction and it seems that the target set was a little too challenging, but a 10 per cent increase, I think, does demonstrate that we are moving in the right direction.
The one figure that is perhaps disappointing is the registered digital readers, where the target was 15,000 and the figure was 6,180, which is 41 per cent of the target. Now, with that, the problem is, with very many of our digital items, you don't have to register to access them, and that we have to look at that, because the figure, then, is one that incorrectly reflects the usage made of our materials. And as we go down this digital route, we do have to ensure that those people who do have digital access are registered and that figure would then be much higher.
So, generally speaking, we're happy. We're moving in the right direction: there are new digital items, for example, and there has been an increase there—we are above the target significantly—and in terms of the external organisations booking the library, we were 464 per cent above the target. So, generally speaking, we are moving in the right direction and there has been progress from where we were last year and in previous years.
Os ydych chi'n dweud ei fod yn heriol, a ydych chi wedi cyfathrebu hynny i Lywodraeth Cymru, wedyn, fod rhai ohonyn nhw—?
If you say that it's challenging, have you communicated that to the Welsh Government, then, that some of them—?
Do, ac rydw i'n gwerthfawrogi cefnogaeth y Gweinidog yn y trafodaethau sydd wedi digwydd. Mae o'n heriol, wrth gwrs, mewn cyd-destun hefyd fod y llyfrgell wedi colli traean o'i staff yn y pedair blynedd diwethaf. Ac rydw i'n hynod, hynod o ddiolchgar i'm cydweithwyr am yr ymroddiad a'r egni maen nhw'n rhoi i mewn i sicrhau bod gwasanaethau'r llyfrgell yn parhau i ffynnu, ond rydw i'n meddwl bod yn rhaid cydnabod yn y pen draw y bydd y perfformiad yn adlewyrchu'r lefel o adnoddau mae'r Llywodraeth yn enwedig yn gallu rhoi i mewn. Ond rydw i'n meddwl ei bod hi'n bwysig ein bod ni'n dangos ein bod ni'n gwneud defnydd effeithiol o'r adnoddau rydym ni'n eu derbyn.
Rydym ni'n codi rhyw £1.4 miliwn ein hunain—rhyw £700,000 o arian masnachol a rhyw £700,000 o grantiau. Felly, mae'n bwysig bod y llyfrgell hefyd yn ceisio ehangu'r ffynonellau arian ac incwm er mwyn gallu cadw'r staff. Ond yn y pen draw, yr arian craidd o'r Llywodraeth sy'n rhedeg gwasanaethau craidd a statudol y llyfrgell. Ond mae o'n bwysig i allu dangos ein bod ni'n effeithiol, ac rydw i'n meddwl, hwyrach, fod eisiau edrych ar lefel y safonau a'r dangosyddion er mwyn gweld eu bod nhw'n rhai sy'n heriol ond yn rhai y medrwn ni eu cyrraedd, achos nid ydw i'n gweld llawer o bwynt inni setio rhai sydd mor uchel fel na fydd y staff, chwarae teg iddyn nhw, fyth yn mynd i'w cyrraedd. Ond mae trend yn bwysig inni hefyd, ac mae'r trend ar i fyny. Hynny yw, fel y bu i'r llywydd gyfeirio, gwnaethon ni setio targed uchel iawn wrth olygu beth yr oedd hi ynghynt ar gyfer defnydd digidol, ac mae'r defnydd eleni a llynedd yn fwy nag yr oedd hi y flwyddyn cyn hynny ac yn y blaen.
Yes, and I do appreciate the support of the Minister in the discussions that we have had. It is challenging, of course, in the context that the library has lost a third of its staff over the past four years. And I am extremely grateful to my colleagues for the commitment and energy that they put into ensuring that the library services continue to prosper and develop, but I do think that you have to recognise ultimately that performance will reflect the level of resources that the Government particularly can invest in the library. But I do think it's important that we demonstrate that we make effective use of those resources.
We raise some £1.4 million ourselves—some £700,000 in commercial funds and £700,000 in grants. Therefore, it's important that the library seeks to enhance those income sources in order to retain staff. But, ultimately, the core funding from the Government is what actually runs those core and statutory services provided by the library. But it's important to be able to demonstrate that we are effective and efficient, and I do think, perhaps, that we need to look at the indicators to ensure that they are challenging, but achievable, because I don't see much point in setting targets that are so ambitious that the staff can never achieve them. But trends are important to us too, and the trend is upward, as the president referred to earlier. That is, we set a very ambitious target, as compared to what existed in the past in terms of digital access, and the usage this year and last year was higher than it was the previous year and so on, and so forth.
Yr arian rydym ni'n ei dderbyn wrth y Llywodraeth ydy £9.585 miliwn, sydd yn swm sylweddol o arian. Mae'n llai o arian nag yr oedd y llyfrgell yn derbyn 10 mlynedd yn ôl, pan oeddwn i'n Weinidog treftadaeth. Felly, mae hynny'n gosod y cyd-destun. Rydym ni'n derbyn llai nawr o arian craidd oddi wrth y Llywodraeth nag yr oeddem ni 10 mlynedd yn ôl.
The funding that we receive from the Government is £9.585 million, which is a significant sum of money. It's less money than what the library received 10 years ago, when I was the heritage Minister. So, that gives you the context. We're receiving less now in terms of core funding from the Government than we did 10 years ago.
Felly, a ydy hynny'n rhywbeth rydych chi wedi ei godi o ran consérn—nad ydych chi'n mynd i allu adfer yr hyn sy'n digwydd ar hyn o bryd gyda'r staff, o ran nifer y staff?
So, is that something that you've raised as a concern—that you won't be able to maintain what's happening now in terms of staff and staff numbers?
Wel, dyma un o'r pethau a godais i pan gefais fy mhenodi yn llywydd y llyfrgell dair blynedd yn ôl. Fe wnes i, bryd hynny, rybuddio bod yna sefyllfa yn agosáu lle na allai’r llyfrgell gyflawni ei swyddogaethau craidd fel llyfrgell genedlaethol oherwydd y diffyg arian rŷm ni’n ei dderbyn oddi wrth y Llywodraeth. Nawr, nid mater i fi ydy beth sy’n rheoli faint o arian mae’r Llywodraeth yn gallu ei roi inni, mater gwleidyddol ydy hwnnw, ond, o’n safbwynt ni, nid oes modd inni barhau i gyflawni ein swyddogaethau pan fo’r arian rŷm ni’n ei dderbyn nawr yn llai na’r arian roeddem ni’n ei dderbyn 10 mlynedd yn ôl. Ac, wrth gwrs, mae chwyddiant a phob peth arall wedi cynyddu’r gofynion arnom ni uwchben hynny. Fe wnaethom ni, gyda chefnogaeth y Llywodraeth, gynnig codiad cyflog i’n staff ni. Fe oedd y Llywodraeth yn hapus iawn inni wneud hynny, ond nid ydy hynny chwaith wedi cael ei adlewyrchu yn yr arian craidd rŷm ni’n ei gael oddi wrth y Llywodraeth. Ac felly, cyn bo hir, rŷm ni’n mynd i fod yn wynebu bwlch yn y sefyllfa o ran yr arian rŷm ni’n ei dderbyn a’r costau sydd ein hwynebu ni, a bydd yn rhaid inni edrych eto ar ein sefyllfa o ran ein swyddogaethau ni, a hefyd o ran ein staff ni.
Well, this is one of the things that I raised when I was appointed as president of the library three years ago. At that time, I did warn that there was a situation approaching where the library wouldn't be able to deliver its core functions as a national library because of a lack of funding from the Government. Now, it's not for me to say how much money the Government can give us, it's a political consideration, but, from our perspective, we can't continue to deliver our functions when the funding that we receive now is less than the money we received 10 years ago. And, of course, inflation and other factors have increased demands on us above that. We did, with the support of the Government, propose an increase in salary for our staff, and the Government was very happy for us to do that, but that hasn't been reflected in the core funding that we receive from the Government. So, before long, we're going to be facing a funding gap in terms of the funding that we receive and the costs that we face, and we will need to look again at our situation in terms of our functions and in terms of our staffing.
Rydych chi wedi cael cyfarfod, felly, gyda’r Gweinidog i godi’r materion yma, neu wedi gofyn am gyfarfod.
Have you had a meeting with the Minister to raise these issues, then, or have you requested a meeting?
Roeddwn i'n cael cyfarfodydd cyson gyda’r cyn-Weinidog sydd nawr yn Ysgrifennydd Cabinet. Nid wyf i wedi cael cyfarfod gyda’r Gweinidog presennol. Yr arfer ydy bod y Gweinidog yn trefnu cyfarfodydd bob chwe mis, ond nid ydw i wedi cael unrhyw gyfarfod gyda’r Gweinidog.
I had regular meetings with the previous Minister who is now a Cabinet Secretary. I haven't had a meeting with the current Minister. The usual practice is that the Minister arranges meetings every six months, but I haven't had any meetings with the current Minister.
Nid yw e wedi trefnu’r cyfarfodydd pob chwe mis, fel oedd yn arfer digwydd.
So, he hasn't arranged those six-monthly meetings, as used to happen.
Mae yna gyfarfod, rydw i wedi deall, yn Chwefror 2019 ar y gweill, ond rydym ni heb drefnu un cyn hynny.
There is to be a meeting in February 2019, as I understand it, but we haven't had one prior to that.
Rwyf i jest yn mynd i fynd i mewn i gwestiynau am y gweithlu ac wedyn dod nôl at yr archifau, os yw hynny’n iawn. So, mae David Melding yn mynd i ofyn cwestiynau am y gweithlu, ac ar ôl hynny, gallwch chi ddod mewn, Rhianon, os yw hynny’n iawn.
I'm just going into questions on the workforce, and I'll come back to the archives, if that's okay. David Melding is going to ask questions about the workforce and then, after that, you can come in, Rhianon, if that's okay.
Okay. But it is about finance.
Iawn, ond mae David yn arwain ar hwn, so cewch chi ddod mewn ar ôl David.
Yes, but David is leading on this, so you can come in after David.
Okay. Thank you.
Diolch yn fawr, Cadeirydd. This perhaps takes us forward and reflects some of the issues that have already been raised. Obviously, this has been a very challenging time, I think, for any public agency, and this is reflected in the amount of work you've continued to do, but with fewer resources. It's very apparent in the staffing structure; you've lost something like 22 per cent of your staff over the last four years or so.
Now, the auditor general raised issues about this, not that you'd had to reorganise staff—or rather that you didn't reorganise staff in that work of seeing a reduction and that your strategy wasn't really changed. So, you're trying broadly to deliver the same range of activities. I infer, from what the auditor general was saying, that you perhaps should have had a more strategic approach in where you cut staff, basically, and where you didn't, and where you shaped the activities around the best use of those staff. And then, I presume, also, that you were retaining staff with the key skills you needed as opposed to a more general approach of inviting staff to apply for early retirement, or voluntary redundancy, or whatever. So, I think in response to that, you did say that you were going to bring forward a workforce plan, and I think that's imminent. So, has it been produced? Did your board discuss it at your recent meeting? Could you just give us an update on that?
Os gwnaf fi drafod yr egwyddorion cyffredinol, gwnaiff y llyfrgellydd ddod nôl gyda’r manylion ynglŷn â’r strategaeth ar gyfer y gweithlu. Y peth pwysig inni oedd ein bod ni, dan yr amgylchiadau heriol a oedd yn ein hwynebu ni, yn symud ymlaen gyda chydweithrediad y staff, a’r undebau hefyd, ac fel rŷch chi’n ei ddweud, fe oedd gennym ni, yn 2014, bron i 300 o staff. Erbyn hyn, y mae’r ffigur wedi gostwng i 228. Ac fel roedd y llyfrgellydd yn ei ddweud, rŷm ni’n hynod ddyledus i’r staff yn y llyfrgell am eu hymroddiad a’u parodrwydd nhw hefyd i dderbyn eu bod nhw’n gweithio dan amodau gwahanol a newydd a heriol, ac maen nhw wedi gwneud hynny. Wrth reswm, pan ŷch chi’n gweithio ar sail ymddeoliad cynnar a diswyddo gwirfoddol, yn aml iawn rŷch chi’n colli’r aelodau mwyaf profiadol o’ch staff. A beth sydd wedi digwydd—er enghraifft, mae'r tîm uwch reoli a oedd yn chwech bellach yn llyfrgellydd a dau ddirprwy lyfrgellydd. Felly, mae yna swyddi wedi mynd o'r swyddi uwch yn y llyfrgell. Mae yna gyfrifoldebau, wedyn, wedi cael eu trosglwyddo yn is i lawr, ac mae penaethiaid adrannau wedi cymryd mwy o gyfrifoldeb ynglŷn â rheoli a marchnata, hefyd, o fewn eu hadrannau. Felly, mae yna newid mawr wedi digwydd yn staffio'r llyfrgell, ond mae'r llyfrgell, wrth gwrs, yn cael ei rheoli gan y siarter, ac felly mae yna ofynion craidd ar y llyfrgell y mae'n rhaid inni geisio eu cyflawni. Felly, dyna'r cyd-destun rŷm ni'n gweithio ynddo, ac mae'r strategaeth wedi cael ei datblygu ar sail hynny.
If I could discuss the general principles, the librarian can come back on the details on the workforce strategy. The important thing for us was that, under the current challenging circumstances that we face, we moved on with the co-operation of the staff and the unions, and as you say, we had, in 2014, nearly 300 members of staff. By now, the figure has fallen to 228. And as the librarian said, we are indebted greatly to the library staff for their commitment and their willingness to accept the fact that they're working under very different, new and challenging circumstances, and they have done that. Naturally, when you work on the basis of early retirement and voluntary exit, you often lose the most experienced members of staff that you have. And what's happened—for example, the senior management team, which did have six members, now is a librarian and two deputy librarians. So, there have been posts that have gone from those senior management roles in the library, and then, there are responsibilities that have been transferred down the chain, and heads of departments have taken on more responsibilities in terms of managing and marketing within their departments. So, major change has happened in terms of the staffing at the library, but the library is governed by the charter. So, there are core requirements on the library that we have to try and deliver. So, that's the context of where we're working from, and the strategy has been formed on that basis.
We were really grateful to the Wales Audit Office for their support and for their reports. It was clear that we did need to look at a more strategic approach, and, over the last year, we've been working with staff and the trade unions to develop, I think, three elements. Developing our staff is absolutely key. At the moment, we can't afford to go out and have external recruitment and add to our staff, so we need to develop the skills and expertise that we currently have, and I am very, very keen that we provide opportunities for our young staff in particular to feel that they have a career at the library, and that they can develop professional skills and other skills as well—marketing skills, raising-income skills, these are all vital skills for us as an organisation.
Therefore, we have developed a people strategy, which is about developing our individual members of staff. We've developed a workforce plan, which is about where are we going to put the staffing resources in light of the priorities established by the Welsh Government and also, as Rhodri says, by our charter. And then, we have developed—and this is now being discussed by the trade union colleagues—a succession policy, because, as we lose experienced members of staff, how do we ensure that, as far as possible, we can transfer that understanding of our collections and of our work to younger members of staff? And, that will be the final element.
I hope that the board, in the February meeting, will sign off the entire plan, but we have sent a draft plan to your colleagues on the Public Accounts Committee to demonstrate the work that's been done, and I would hope that, after the February board, if the committee would like to see the final set of plans—I'd be very happy to forward those plans to you for scrutiny. But, it's an essential element of our effectiveness. The library is dependent on its staff to be an effective organisation, and respecting the needs and the opportunities that those staff have is a considerable priority, I think, for us in managing those very scarce resources.
And does the plan envisage any further reductions in staff, or do you think 230 is about the establishment now, in terms of—
Well, I think we are far too light. I do think we've gone down below—bearing in mind these additional responsibilities and opportunities that the library is seeking to seize where it can. However, we do have to be responsible in terms of our due diligence, and, in the new year, the board has asked me to establish a task group of managers in the library and trade union representatives to look at scenarios in terms of likely future funding, and how those will affect our staffing levels. I think it's important that the board does have a view, if the funding stays the same, or if the funding reduces—what will be the impact on services and on opportunities for staff? So, that forward financial planning, which will be led by the treasurer of the library, who himself is an experienced accountant, I think, hopefully, will help the board to understand, in terms of strategic direction, what the library needs to put in place. And I also hope it will demonstrate the evidence to yourselves and to the Minister of the likely impact of not being able to provide levels of funding—where that will then impact on our ability to deliver the core services—
So, does that translate into potentially having to cut more staff?
The stark reality is unless there is an increase in the money we get from the Government, then we will be facing a situation the year after next when we will, again, have to look at reducing the staff unless there is external funding coming in from other directions. That is the reality facing the board.
So, when you see project funding and key partnerships, there is a move to build into that a staffing element, is there? And so, you're more rigorous, then, in application, I think, for funding from others that can bring in that extra resource, because, often, they're overlooked, core costs, aren't they, when you do activities with a project base or with other organisations. Have you developed financial skills in terms of the key players?
Well, the important thing, of course, with external funding is that you don't accept money that takes you, or deviates you, away from your core purposes. But when you get the opportunity to do something that is within your strategic plan, and the strategic plan is developed on the basis of the digital pathway—therefore, if there are digital projects we can do, then that creates greater flexibility within the workforce and protects jobs in the short term. Therefore, the kind of situation that would be facing us in a year, in a year and a half, if, for example, we were successful in drawing down the heritage lottery funding, that would allow us, in the short term, to meet those challenges.
Ocê. Rhianon. Sori, David, mae'n rhaid inni symud ymlaen. Rhianon Passmore ar y mater yma.
Okay. Rhianon. Sorry, David, we have to move on. Rhianon Passmore on this issue.
Thank you, Chair. In regard to strategic direction, cultural change across library services, across Europe, even, that strategic direction is very key to your online work. And with your mandate and your charter across Wales, surely—I mean, I don't want to dig too deep into this at this moment in time—but, surely, you need to be hitting at least three quarters of a target in terms of online usage, bearing in mind the issues around finance, bearing in mind the issues around workforce development. So, culturally, are you moving in the right direction? I'm querying that, listening to you.
Culturally, we're moving, certainly, in the right direction. As I said, in terms of our registered digital readership, we are moving in the right direction, but the problem is that not all those digital readers are registered. Therefore, we have to look at that. In terms of—
Surely the time is absolutely now to do that.
The issue for us is that we are fully aligned with the Welsh Government requirements, because it's the library's requirement as well, to make digital information free at the point of access. The people of Wales own our collections; they are digitised so that they can be used beyond Aberystwyth. On that basis, we don't put any barriers in to people using. So, for example, if you wanted to use the wonderful Welsh newspaper archive or the tithe map service, you don't have to register, you can use them online.
When you register, there is always a barrier, and not everybody will then go through, or will understand the registration process. So, the library has these 1.8-odd million readers that we are targeting. With the registered users, they are very, very limited, the additional services you will get, and I think the question for us is: do we actually use that as a performance target? Because they are probably quite a specialist set of users who will come into the reading room and use our specialist—they're probably academics, they're probably people who are losing—perhaps the traditional library user, if you like. What we want to hit are the general public, not just in Wales, but beyond, because there are lots of people interested, or from Wales who live beyond Wales. And on that basis, definitely, the culture has changed. I was really pleased that we digitised far more digital items than we expected last year because that, for me, demonstrates that there is energy going into making more items available in a digital world.
The Wikimedia work that we've been doing has been really interesting. We have the UK's only Wikipedian; he's a permanent member of the library staff and is doing some fantastic work that is internationally recognised with Wikimedia. For example, library images on our website do get a good hit rate, do get a good response, but our images on Wikimedia and Wikipedia—last year, between 300 million and 400 million people viewed those images worldwide. So, for me, that's the partnership. We need to be working with Wikimedia, with Google, with Amazon, whoever, in order that our images and our collections are viewed using their networks.
Okay, and I'll come back to that, Chair.
Yes, we can come back to that in detail. We need to get on to the archives now, so, Jenny.
Thank you very much, Chair. The context, listening to you, has been very interesting because, clearly, the proposal to have this national broadcast archive must be a core part of your strategic plan. Could you tell us what the latest situation is in relation to your bid for the £5 million of lottery funding?
We made our first application almost two years ago. We received the support of the then Minister, who is now the Cabinet Secretary, on behalf of the Government of Wales. It was part of our strategic plan for the future. We were looking to apply for the £5 million that had been allocated by the Heritage Lottery Fund in the summer, and we were informed by—
The summer—which summer?
This summer, in 2018.
We were informed at that point by the Minister that he was not minded to give the £1 million of support by Welsh Government. Now, for an application to be accepted by heritage lottery, it has to have the support of the Government. So, at that point we decided not to apply. We were going to apply again at the start of this month, on 4 December, but, again, we received a letter from the Minister saying that he was not prepared to commit the £1 million from Welsh Government. There was a question raised in the Senedd last week, which many of you participated in, where he said the money was available but he was still unsure about certain aspects of the application.
I have to say, on behalf of the National Library of Wales, we were asked in January of this year for certain information, which we supplied. We had a further letter asking for more information, which, again, we supplied. So, as far as the national library is concerned, we have done everything within our power in order to ensure that this application succeeds. And £5 million from an external body is a very, very important investment in terms of the National Library of Wales and, as I said earlier, it does mean that certain situations that would be facing us very soon can be alleviated by this money.
And the important thing is, this is not taking us away from our strategic plan. It is an integral part of our strategic plan. You know, quite often when you get external money, it deviates you from you're trying to do, but this is actually a core part of our work, and taking us down that digital pathway, which, as you said, is very important in terms of library services, not only in Wales, but throughout the world these days. So, that is the current stuation.
I wonder if we can delve a little bit deeper into what reasoning the Government has given for not supporting the plan in its current form.
Well, they've asked us for certain information, which we've supplied. As I understand it from the response he gave in the Senedd last week, he is saying that he is worried about the core services of the library. The core services of the library are dependent on the grant aid we receive from the Government, and the pressures on the core services arise from the fact that the £9.85 million we received this year is less than the money we were receiving 10 years ago, when I was Minister.
We are very keen to resolve the situation. Personally, I'm very happy to meet with the Minister's officials, and we have now got a meeting arranged on 19 December. I think it is important that we understand the Minister's concerns, and I'm hoping the officials will be able to help me there.
You're only meeting the officials; you're not meeting the Minister. Again, obviously, you haven't had the six-monthly meeting. You're meeting the officials. Why is it that the Minister isn't meeting with you on this issue?
I understand we're meeting the Minister.
You are meeting the Minister.
But that's—. Obviously, this is a live issue now, so—.
I did ask for a meeting with the Minister when we were first informed in July that he was unwilling to bring forward the £1 million. I was not allowed a meeting at that particular time, although I asked for an urgent meeting, because I thought the situation was serious.
I have to say, on behalf of the National Library of Wales, on behalf of the board, we want this matter resolved. We want to come to an agreement with the Government so we can move forward. This is one of the most exciting projects that has ever been brought before the Heritage Lottery Fund from Wales, perhaps the most exciting project ever. We've met all the thresholds in order to obtain this money, and what is important now is that we come to an agreement with the Government. The Government support is purely support of £1 million out of a project, which, when you put everything together, is £11 million. It's not a massive contribution, but the support of the Government is essential—
[Inaudible.]—that is required, so that the Government has stamped it with its approval, and that is signalled by the £1 million.
Dai Lloyd, did you want to come in?
A oeddech chi eisiau dod i mewn fanna?
Did you want to come in here?
Jest i roi llwyfan ychwanegol i'r llywydd ehangu ar beth sy'n mynd ymlaen fan hyn, ac i atgyfnerthu'r pwynt rydym yn sôn, efo'r archif ddarlledu genedlaethol, am drysorfa hynod arloesol a gwerthfawr i'n cenedl ni. Rydym ni'n dal i sôn ac yn dal i ddarbwyllo'r Gweinidog ein bod ni yn dal i orfod adeiladu sefydliadau cenedlaethol Cymreig, ac mae hwn, rwy'n gweld, fel y sefydliad diweddaraf cenedlaethol Cymreig, sef yr archif ddarlledu yma, ac ni allwn fforddio ei golli fe. Nawr, fel roeddech chi'n ei ddweud, mi wnes i ofyn y cwestiwn wythnos diwethaf. Roeddwn i'n cymryd fel yr ateb ei fod o wedi newid ei feddwl ynglŷn â'r £1 miliwn, neu mi fuasai'r cwestiwn atodol a oedd wrth gefn wedi bod yn llawer fwy aggressive, fe fuaswn i'n dweud. Roeddwn i wedi cymryd o dôn ateb y Gweinidog fod y £1 miliwn yn ôl ar y bwrdd, a dim ond rhyw fanylion sydd i'w gweithredu achos, yn amlwg, yn arwain i fyny at y cwestiwn, dyma pam mae'r sefyllfa mor bryderus.
A hefyd ynglŷn ag amserlen y bid yma efo'r HLF, efo'r heritage lottery, wrth gwrs, nid yw'r amserlen yn agored am fisoedd ar fisoedd ar fisoedd, ydy e? Felly, mae yna bwysau i ddatrys yr anghydfod yma, os anghydfod yw e, neu beth bynnag—rwy'n trio dod i waelod y peth. Ond beth fedrwn ni ddim gael ydy colli hyn i gyd, achos mae yna drysorfa amhrisadwy, yn enwedig efo archifau y BBC. Mae cof cenedl gyda ni'n fan hyn, ac nid yw'n para am byth, fel rydych chi wedi ei ddweud, efo materion digidol. Felly, sut ydych chi'n gweld hyn yn cael ei ddatrys yn y byr dymor rŵan?
Just to give an additional platform to the president to expand on what's going on here, and to reinforce the point that we're talking about a very innovative treasury for our nation in terms of this broadcasting archive. We're still trying to convince the Minister that we still need to build national institutions in Wales, and this is the latest national institution, this broadcasting archive, and we can't afford to lose it. So, as you said, I asked a question last week. I took it from the answer that he had changed his mind about this £1 million, or the supplementary question after that would have been a lot more aggressive, let's say. I took it from the Minister's tone and answer that the £1 million was back on the table, and there were just some details to iron out, because leading up to that question, this is why the situation is such a concern.
In terms of the timetable of the bid with the HLF, that timetable isn't open for months and months, is it? So, there is time pressure in terms of resolving this dispute, or whatever it is—I'm trying to get to the bottom of it. What we can't have is losing this, because this is an invaluable treasure, particularly with the BBC archives. We have a nation's memory here, and it's not going to last forever, as you said, in terms of digital issues. So, how do you see this being resolved in the short term?
O ran yr archif, mae yna ddau beth sy'n eithriadol o bwysig. Dyma'r casgliad mwyaf pwysig o hanes cymdeithasol Cymru dros y 70 mlynedd diwethaf—holl gasgliad y BBC. Y lle naturiol i hwnnw gael ei gartrefu ydy Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru. Fe fyddwn i'n dadlau os nad ŷm ni'n gallu cartrefu rhywbeth felly, nid ydym yn cyflawni ein priod swydd fel llyfrgell genedlaethol. Fe fyddai derbyn yr arian yma oddi wrth loteri treftadaeth yn diogelu swyddi o fewn y sefydliad. Fe fyddai'n caniatáu i ni estyn yr adeiladau er mwyn cartrefu yr archif yma. Felly, rŷm ni'n sôn am £1 miliwn o gyfalaf gan y Llywodraeth.
Roeddwn i'n falch iawn o ddeall, mewn ymateb i'r cwestiwn, fod y Gweinidog wedi dweud yn glir iawn fod y £1 miliwn ar gael. Beth yw e ddim wedi dweud, hyd y gwelaf i—ac, yn sicr, nid yw wedi mynegi wrthym ni—ydy ei fod e'n barod i ryddhau y £1 miliwn hynny fel ein bod ni'n gallu cwblhau ein trafodaethau gyda'r loteri treftadaeth. Mae'r amserlen yn dynn iawn. Mae yna fodd i ni, hyd at ddechrau mis Mawrth y flwyddyn nesaf, roi ein cais i fewn. Ond, wrth gwrs, wrth i'r misoedd fynd yn eu blaen, mae'r gystadleuaeth am yr arian yn mynd yn llawer iawn fwy heriol. Fe fyddai wedi bod yn llawer iawn gwell i ni pe bai ni wedi gallu cyflwyno ein cais fis Awst diwethaf. Byddai'r broses wedi bod yn llawer iawn symlach, ond mae'r drws dal ar agor. Yr hyn sydd ei angen, a'r hyn rŷm ni'n awyddus iawn i'w wneud, a'r hyn roeddwn i'n ddiolchgar iawn amdano fe yn y cwestiwn brys, oedd bod y Gweinidog yn dweud bod yr arian ar gael. Felly, mater yw o gael ymrwymiad y Llywodraeth i hyn.
Ac, wrth gwrs, beth fyddai’r project yma’n ei ganiatáu, y peth pwysig, ydy mynediad y cyhoedd i’r casgliad yma o hanes cymdeithasol Cymru. Os nad yw’n cael ei gartrefu yn y llyfrgell, os nad yw’r canolfannau yma yn cael eu hagor, fydd y cyhoedd ddim gallu cael mynediad i’r casgliad yma. Mae’n siŵr y bydd yn cael ei gartrefu yn rhywle gan y BBC, ond fyddai fe ddim ar gael i bobl Cymru.
In terms of the archive, there are two things that are extremely important. This is the most important collection of Welsh social history over the past 70 years—that's the whole BBC catalogue. The natural home for that is the National Library of Wales. I would argue that, if we can't house something like that, then we are not carrying out our proper function and role as a national library. Receiving this funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund would safeguard jobs within the institution. It would enable us to extend our buildings to house this archive and, therefore, we're talking about £1 million in capital from the Government.
I was very pleased to hear, in response to your question, that the Minister said very clearly that that £1 million was still on the table. What he hasn't said, as far as I can see—and, certainly, he hasn't expressed this to us—is that he's willing to release that £1 million so that we can complete our negotiations with the Heritage Lottery Fund. The timetable is very tight. We could, up until the beginning of March next year, submit our bid. But, of course, as the months pass, then the competition for that funding becomes far more challenging. It would have been far better for us if we had been able to present out application last August. The process would have been simplified, but the door is till open. What we need, and what we're very eager to do, and what I was grateful for in terms of that topical question, was that the Minister said that the funding was available. So, it's a matter of getting a commitment from Government to this project.
And, of course, what this project would allow, and this is the important point, is this public access to this collection of Welsh social history. If it is not housed in the library, and if these centres are not opened, then the public won't be able to access this collection. I'm sure it will be housed somewhere by the BBC, but it wouldn't be available to the people of Wales.
I think it’s of some concern that this dialogue of the deaf seems to have been going on for about a year, and we're now in danger of potentially losing this project. Could you just tell us: when is the deadline?
The deadline is the start of March. The deadline, basically, is the meeting we have with the Minister and his officials next February, because we have a meeting of the board the following week. Therefore, we would have to take to the board whatever the Minister is prepared to offer at that point, and then the board would have to take a decision as to whether they want to go ahead with the application or not.
Okay. So, that's very clear. We need to just have a slightly better understanding as to why the Government is looking this gift horse in the mouth. It seems to me that one of the most important aspects of your proposal is that the library would be available to people in four different locations across Wales, so that those who are unable to travel to Aberystwyth would be able to access it in either Carmarthen, Cardiff or Wrexham. So, is—. I'm struggling to understand why this model of delivery might put a question mark over the financial stability of the national library.
Well, first of all, the application has to meet the requirements of the heritage lottery, and one of the requirements is that the public have access to the collection. The only way you can do that within broadcasting law—. What the Minister asked us to do in the summer was—. You wouldn’t be able to do it; the law would not allow you to do it.
It would be to allow open access for the public to the collection. So, these centres are essential to allow the public to have access to the collection.
Now, I think the important thing is that the BBC have agreed to this, and that is the exciting element of this project. It’s not only that we have the collection, but people have the access to it. Therefore, I’m at a loss to understand what the problem is.
Okay. So, the legal advice you've had is that this project would be perfectly possible without breaching the broadcasting law.
What the BBC have agreed—and I think it is unique; I don’t think the BBC elsewhere in the UK have made these types of agreement—is that the library will have a licence to show the digital archive in premises that the library rents. And the three strategic partners that have agreed to host the centre will be providing that rent-free, except in Carmarthen, where there is a peppercorn rent. And they have also agreed in writing that, in 2024, when the lottery funding ceases—the lottery will fund the project for five years—they will contribute 50 per cent of any running costs of the delivery model that will be agreed. I think we have to agree that delivery model further down the road, because we need to have the experience of the project. By then, of course, hopefully, the archive will have been catalogued and the access and the centres will be more about local community groups, individuals, schools, having access to and using the archives themselves. Therefore, we will have five years of establishing it, cataloguing it, ensuring that the archive is widely publicised and made available, and then, after 2024, it will be a matter of keeping those centres open in a sustainable way.
And I fully accept that you need due diligence in terms of any major project, and fully accept the Minister's requirements in that regard. Indeed, the board has also asked for due diligence here. I do hope that, when we have the meeting later this month, we will be able to bottom out some of these practical issues and understand better what the Minister’s officials’ concerns are.
As the president said, we do always have to remember that this has still to be a wow project to get £5 million from the lottery. So, providing some form of changes or alterations to the project, of course we will sit round a table and look at those and see if that addresses the Government's concerns, but I think it does have to be in the context then of us still being able to put in for a project that will stand up against large projects we will be competing against from large organisations across the UK. But I think it is incumbent on me and incumbent on us, and I agree, to do our level best to sort this out in the short term, as you suggest.
I think the other important aspect, Jenny, is that it's important to remember that heritage lottery funding after this round will change. Therefore, these amounts of money will not be available after this round. We're talking about hundreds of thousands of pounds being available, rather than millions of pounds. Therefore, if we can't put it into this round—and the heritage lottery have been very flexible with us in terms of allowing us time to come to an agreement with the Government, but unless we can put it into this round, this amount of money will not be available.
Okay. Well, thank you very much for describing the urgency of this matter.
Just one final question, really, which is: is that five-year timescale of initiating and embedding the broadcast archive into the library's heritage, is that sufficient a time to do that, so that, at the end of five years, it'll then just be a steady state and it'll just be one of your many collections?
That is the intention, but it’s the intention that during the five years also we'll be working with at least 200 community groups across Wales. We will be focusing that work on areas in the Fusion programme. So, they will be schools and community groups in deprived areas, because it is a very visual experience that we hope will attract new audiences to the library’s collections. And, of course, we also have the ITV archive, which is not digitised to the same extent; it’s only digitised in part. And who knows? There may be an opportunity for the S4C archive during those five years as well.
We would have, in that case, an international broadcast archive. It would be an archive of international standing for broadcast archives. Certainly, those are the observations that we have been getting internationally on this project, that it is a model for other countries to adopt. And that’s very encouraging for us, but also I think it demonstrates that this particular medium could attract new audiences, and new audiences perhaps who wouldn't necessarily be interested in our printed collections, for example.
Well, that’s the most confusing thing for me, because about 25 per cent of our population have challenges with the written word. This is not something they will do for pleasure. But, our oral and visual culture is accessible to everybody, so I am at a loss to understand why the Government is prevaricating on this matter.
Well, one example, I think, of the library moving into a new area would be working with the Alzheimer’s Society to package DVDs, using library volunteers to present programmes, for example, because we know that people with dementia have difficulty in recalling life events, but watching familiar television programmes, perhaps from their childhood and often their earlier childhood, is very reassuring and comforting. Now, we know that, and I think this project provides opportunities perhaps for us to look at different ways of reaching people using this very visual medium.
Rydw i wedi ysgrifennu at y Gweinidog—rhai dyddiau yn ôl—yn ymateb i’w lythyr ef, ac wedi imi wrando ar y sesiwn yn y Senedd. Gwnaf i roi copi o’r llythyr i chi, ond hwyrach y byddai’n ddefnyddiol i’r pwyllgor glywed dim ond y paragraff olaf o’r llythyr hwnnw.
'Mae’r Llyfrgell, wrth gwrs, yn barod i ystyried pob opsiwn i ddiogelu’r Archif Darlledu hanesyddol hon ac i sicrhau mynediad i’r cyhoedd i’r casgliad unigryw yma. Bellach, rydym yn ymwybodol y bydd cyfle i gyflwyno cais ail rownd erbyn diwedd Mawrth 2019. Felly, byddwn yn croesawu cyfle i’ch swyddogion drafod gyda ni a’r BBC sut y gallem symud ymlaen gyda’n gilydd a chytuno ar gais cryf y gellid ei ystyried gan Gronfa Treftadaeth y Loteri ar lefel y DU yn gynnar yn haf 2019.'
A hwyrach ei bod yn bwysig nodi mai wrth gwrs yn Llundain y mae’r cais yma’n cael ei benderfynu. Felly, mae’n gystadleuaeth drwy’r Deyrnas Unedig. Ond mae yna gopi dwyieithog o’r llythyr fan hyn ar eich cyfer chi.
I have written to the Minister—some days ago—responding to his letter, and having listened to the session in the Senedd. I will provide you with a copy of the letter, but it might be useful for the committee just to hear this final paragraph of the letter.
'The Library is, of course, prepared to consider all options to preserve this historic Broadcast Archive and to ensure public access to this unique collection. We are now aware that there will be an opportunity to submit the second round proposal by the end of March 2019. Therefore, I would welcome an opportunity for your officials to discuss with ourselves and the BBC how we could move forward and together agree a strong proposal which could be considered by Heritage Lottery Fund at a UK level in early summer 2019.'
And it may be important to note that this will of course be decided in London. So, it's a competition throughout the UK. But there is a bilingual copy of the letter for your perusal.
Grêt. Gwnawn ni weld y llythyr ar ôl. Mae gen i jest ddau gwestiwn clou ar hyn, ac wedyn gwnawn ni symud ymlaen, os oes amser gyda chi i aros. Pam mae'n mynd i gostio £400,000 y flwyddyn i sicrhau bod hyn yn digwydd? Yr ail gwestiwn yw, ac efallai bod hwn yn gwestiwn sydd ddim yn berthnasol: a oes rhaid i'r £1 miliwn ddod o Lywodraeth Cymru? Neu, a ellir cael, fel roedd David Melding yn dweud, llythyr gan y Llywodraeth a fydd yn rhoi'r hwb hwnnw i'r cais, ac wedyn ceisio am y £1 miliwn o rywle arall? Neu, a ydy hynny'n rhywbeth nad yw'n bosibl?
Yes, we'll see that letter later. I've just two quick questions here, and then we'll move on, if you have time to stay with us a little longer. Why is it going to cost £400,000 per annum to ensure that this happens? The second question is, and perhaps this isn't particularly pertinent: does that £1 million have to come from the Welsh Government? Or, would it be possible, as David Melding suggested, to get a letter from the Government supporting the application, and then seeking the £1 million elsewhere? Or, is that not possible?
Fe fyddai'n braf iawn petaem ni'n gallu rhoi cais rhywle arall am y £1 miliwn, ond yn anffodus mae gofynion y loteri treftadaeth yn golygu bod yn rhaid inni gael cefnogaeth y Llywodraeth a bod y gefnogaeth honno yn cael ei hategu gan gyfraniad ariannol. Un miliwn yw'r ffigwr ar hyn o bryd; dyna fyddai'n caniatáu’r project fel y mae.
O ran y canolfannau, fel roedd y llyfrgellydd yn dweud, rydym ni eisoes wedi dod i gytundeb gyda'n partneriaid, sydd i gyd yn awyddus iawn i weld y project yma yn symud ymlaen. Beth sydd yn galonogol ydy eu bod nhw wedi cytuno i dderbyn cyfrifoldeb rhannol am y canolfannau yma ar ôl diwedd y pum mlynedd. Yn y sefyllfa heriol sy'n ein wynebu ni i gyd, mae hynny'n ymrwymiad mawr ar ran y sefydliadu hynny, ond maen nhw'n teimlo bod y canolfannau yma mor bwysig fel eu bod nhw'n barod i ymrwymo i'w dyfodol nhw. Mae'r BBC hefyd—unwaith eto rwy'n credu bod hyn yn unigryw—wedi cytuno i roi cyfraniad ariannol—
It would be great if we could make an application somewhere else for that £1 million, but unfortunately the requirements of the Heritage Lottery Fund mean that we have to have the support of the Government and that support must be backed by a financial contribution. One million pounds is the figure at present; that's what would allow the project to continue as it is.
In terms of the hubs, as the librarian said, we've already come to an agreement with our partners, who are all very eager to see this project proceeding. The encouraging thing is that they have agreed to take partial responsibility for the centres after the end of the five-year period. In the challenging financial situation facing us all, that's a significant commitment on behalf of those organisations, but they feel that these centres are so important that they are willing to commit to their future. The BBC also—once again, I think this is unique—has agreed to provide money—
Felly, bydd y £400,000 ar ôl i'r arian loteri ddod i ben.
So, that £400,000 will be post the lottery funding.
Bydd. Nid yw'r £400,000 yn ffigwr cywir. Fe fydd yna gostau yn dilyn y pum mlynedd, ond mae'n partneriaid ni eisoes wedi dweud eu bod nhw'n fodlon eistedd lawr yn 2024 gyda ni ac edrych ar y sefyllfa a gweld beth maen nhw'n gallu'i wneud i dderbyn cyfrifoldeb am rai o'r costau hynny. Ni allwn ni—nid oes yr un ohonom ni yn gallu dweud beth fydd ein sefyllfa ni yn 2024. Nid wyf i'n gwybod beth fydd sefyllfa'r llyfrgell, ar hyn o bryd, yn y flwyddyn ariannol nesaf. Rwyf wedi cael amcan gan y Llywodraeth beth rydym ni'n mynd i'w dderbyn, ond nid wyf wedi cael cadarnhad o hynny eto. Nid oes yr un corff arall yn y sector cyhoeddus wedi cael hynny, heb sôn am 2024. Ond, mae'r ymrwymiad yno. Felly, nid yw'r £400,000 yn gywir.
Yes. That £400,000 isn't an accurate figure. There will be costs after that five-year period, but our partners have already stated that they are willing to sit down in 2024 along with us and look at the situation and see what they can do in order to shoulder responsibility for some of those costs. Not one of us can say what our situation will be in 2024. I don't know what the library's situation will be, at present, in the next financial year. I've been given an estimate from Government what we're going to receive, but I've not received confirmation. No other body in the public sector has received that confirmation, never mind 2024. But, that commitment is in place. So, that £400,000 isn't correct.
Mae'r £400,000 yn ffigwr sydd wedi cael ei amcangyfrif, ac rwy'n meddwl ei fod yn bwysig bod bwrdd y llyfrgell a'r Llywodraeth yn cael amcangyfrif. Ond, wrth gwrs, bydd angen—yn 2023, buaswn i'n tybio—i'r partneriaid eistedd rownd y bwrdd a phenderfynu pa fodel y byddwn ni'n darparu, faint bydd cost y model yna, ac o le mae'r adnoddau'n mynd i ddod i'w ariannu. Felly, mae'n bwysig, rwy'n meddwl, o ran edrych a chraffu ar y cais, fod bwrdd y llyfrgell yn gwybod mai £400,000 ydy'r amcangyfrif. Ond, rwy'n rhagweld y bydd angen trafodaethau wedyn i weld, os £400,000 fydd y pris, pwy sy'n mynd i'w dalu. Rwy'n gobeithio y bydd hynny wedyn yn cael ei rannu o ran y cyfrifoldebau o ariannu y canolfannau wedyn. Ond, mae'n bwysig ein bod ni'n rhoi'r ffigurau yma o flaen y Llywodraeth ac o flaen y bwrdd, sydd wrth gwrs, fel roedd y llywydd wedi dweud, wedi bod yn edrych ar risgiau ariannol y project, fel y dylem nhw. Mae hynny’n rhywbeth arall rydym ni wedi bod yn gwneud o ran gwaith iddyn nhw hefyd.
The £400,000 is a figure that has been estimated, and I think it's important that the library board and the Government do have estimates. But, of course—in 2023, I'd assume—the partners will need to sit around the table and decide which model will be provided, how much that will cost, and where the resources will come from to fund it. So, it's important, in terms of scrutinising the application, that the library board does know that £400,000 is the estimate. But, I foresee that discussions will be needed later—if £400,000 is the cost—on who's going to pay that. I hope that that will be shared in terms of the responsibility of funding the centres. But, it is important that we do present the Government with these figures, and the board of course, as the president said, has been looking at the financial risks of the project, as they should. That's another thing that we've been doing work on.
Mae'n siŵr y gwnawn ni fel pwyllgor ddilyn y mater yma gyda diddordeb, a cheisio helpu os yn bosibl lle bo'n briodol. Fe wnawn ni symud ymlaen nawr ac mae Rhianon Passmore yn mynd i orffen gyda'r cwestiynau—sori, David Melding.
I'm sure we as a committee will follow this issue with interest, and seek to assist where possible and appropriate. We'll move on now, Rhianon Passmore is going to conclude with some questions—sorry, David Melding.
It's very difficult for us to pin down what the Minister's objection is, because the letters we get are general. But it seems to me that the Minister's line is that the BBC should pick up the ongoing costs after 2024. That's basically it, isn't it? The fact that you've got 50 per cent of the cost, the Minister thinks that you should get 100 per cent of the costs, of £400,000. So, it's a £200,000 jeopardy figure that he sees and that may affect your whole model in terms of the library. I can see how he may want to get maximum value for the public purse, but that £200,000 seems to me to be not enough money to warrant a huge project like this being put into serious jeopardy. Would you agree?
Yes, I would agree, and it also raises a point of principle, doesn't it? It means that if that's the case, the National Library of Wales cannot accept any collection where there's not a financial contribution from the organisation offering us that collection. It means we can't function as a National Library for Wales. Surely the question here is: is this collection important? My view is that it's the most important collection of the social history of Wales for the last 70 years and it should be housed in the National Library of Wales. Surely we can come to some arrangement with the Government to allow us to receive £5 million of public funding from the national lottery or heritage lottery for that. I mean, I don't know of any organisation that has actually turned down £5 million, and certainly in the present financial climate it seems a strange situation that we can afford to do that.
Thank you. I don't think anybody would disagree with that at all around this table or within Government. But, I think that underlying this, there seems to be—. You mentioned core services, and I touched earlier upon a huge failure to meet your target around digital users. You mentioned capacity. You mentioned workforce planning. For me, listening to this, there would be a concern—. Obviously, you have your meeting to come, and you have the Wales audit reports and your planning processes ahead, but it seems to me, listening, that there is a concern about your core ability to manage outside of having this transformational amount of money, and the new mandate that goes with that; it could actually compromise your current running of your current service, which you could argue that you are failing to do. Now, that's very harsh, but how would you respond to that, bearing in mind how important this collection could be, not just to the archive but to Wales internationally?
The core duties are dependent on the core funding from the Government. The ability to carry out those core duties is solely dependent on the core funding coming from the Government. As I have said on a number of occasions, we are now receiving less than we were receiving 10 years ago, and that's the problem.
And that's the reality across the public sector.
That's the reality we are facing. If we don't move forward—. The important thing about the broadcast archive is that it is part of our strategic plan for the future. It's not something additional that we are doing; it's part of our strategic plan. Therefore, it is part of our core services, so it allows us to move forward and allows us to bring in external funding in the short—
But you have not yet met even half of your target on your current digital registration.
Can I just ask which target you're referring to?
In terms of registering for digital usage.
The registration, I think, is not for us a significant figure because, as I've mentioned previously, 95 per cent of our services are free at the point of contact. You don't need to register. So, the only way that we could increase that realistically is to make everybody register, and then we would get 1.4 million. But, I think that we would get less than that because—as you all know around the table, I'm sure—when you have to register for a service, it does put a barrier, and it would certainly put a barrier for people who were unsure about how to register, et cetera. So, the actual registered users, I think, is not a significant figure for me.
The significant figure is the 84 per cent that we've reached of the digital users, which I fully agree with you needs to be targeted and needs to increase through marketing, whatever, and through our partnerships with Wikipedia, et cetera. But, that's the significant figure: how many people are using us digitally? That, at that moment is 84 per cent of the target that we set.
So, in regard—
It's 10 per cent more than were using those services last year.
Yes, and I understand that directly.
For me, the most important is the increase in the number of volunteers you're getting from deprived communities. It seems to me that you are moving in the right direction.
So, in that regard, there seems to be, from my understanding, a more limited approach to public-facing work. You've mentioned Fusion, and you've mentioned the importance of this transformational funding for the future. So, how would you therefore explain and reassure me that this funding and this project could actually transform the amount of outward external-facing work that you seem to be currently producing, bearing in mind that that's a struggle at the moment?
That's where the money goes.
First of all, the collection would be digitised by the BBC. Therefore, we'd have more digital material available. This collection is exceptional in terms of the last 70 years. I don't think I'm being over-optimistic in saying that there would be a great deal of interest in this particular archive. Therefore, over the years, you'd see more and more people—many thousands more people—using that service, and the digital figures would increase. It's important to note that—. I understand your concern about the figures, but it is due to registration. If you look at the online figures, it is 10 per cent more than last year. So, to give the impression that we are somehow decreasing in numbers is not correct. It's a technical matter about registration that has created that.
So, in regard to reassurance around exhibitions—
This would increase our numbers substantially. I don't think anybody can challenge that.
Okay, so just to—
This is the last question now, Rhianon, sorry.
It's the same question, Chair, if I may, and I still haven't got an answer. So, in regard to the amount of your external-facing work, you've mentioned the Fusion project and programme, and how important that is to reaching out to a certain section of our population, and your charter in terms of what you need to be delivering to Wales, across Wales—and this is why I keep banging on about digitisation—so how are you going to be able to further that work at the same time as working on this new, massive project if it's delivered to you? How can you reassure me?
Well, first of all, I was asked almost three years ago, when I was appointed as president, to ensure that there was greater access to the collections in Aberystwyth—that they were opened out to the whole of Wales and further afield. I believe we've already done that. We will continue with our digital programme—more and more of the collections will be digitised. Over and above that, this collection will also be added to our digital collections. So, in that sense, there will be more opportunity for people to access the collections in Aberystwyth without actually having physically to come to Aberystwyth. As well as that, we have other programmes that will add to that. So, yes, I am confident that, in five years' time, there will be a substantial increase in the numbers of people accessing collections in the national library through digital.
The project is predicated on providing access to people and focused on deprived communities. So, we would be working with 200 community groups. That's vastly more than the library works with currently and it's very exciting for us as an organisation. We have a 300-page activities plan within the proposal and—
Your current proposal or the new—?
In the current proposal that HLF have agreed in round one, there is a 300-page activity plan. So, in many ways, this project will actually be the transformational project for us to work with a very, very great number of—
Some would argue that that should be the case now.
It's an interesting one, and it is all about where we put our resources and, as the president's mentioned, what our statutory requirements are, and that's perhaps why we see this project as being so important to us, because it will move us somewhere we've never been before.
Okay, thank you.
Of course, if the Welsh Government wants to give us £6 million in additional money, we wouldn't have to ask the heritage lottery for the £5 million.
Ocê, diolch i chi am ddod i mewn i roi tystiolaeth. Rydym ni'n mynd i ymweld â chi yn hwyrach heddiw. Mae yna gwestiynau ychwanegol nad ydym ni wedi cael cyfle i'w gofyn, achos roeddwn i'n credu ei bod hi'n bwysig i ni geisio gofyn cymaint o gwestiynau â phosibl am y mater pwysig, amserol hwn, felly byddwn ni'n ysgrifennu atoch chi yn y man. Ond diolch yn fawr iawn i chi am ddod i mewn atom ac am rannu eich syniadau gyda ni. Diolch yn fawr iawn.
Okay, thank you for your evidence. We will be visiting you later today. There are some additional questions that we haven't had an opportunity to ask, because I think it was important for us to delve into this very topical issue, so we will write to you with some further questions. But thank you for joining us and thank you for sharing your ideas with us. Thank you.
There's a copy of the letter.
Diolch am y llythyr hefyd. Mi wnawn ni gymryd seibiant o ddwy funud a dod yn ôl ar ôl hynny.
Thank you. We'll take a two-minute break and then return.
Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 11:08 a 11:14.
The meeting adjourned between 11:08 and 11:14.
Croeso i eitem 3 ar yr agenda, sef craffu ar Gyngor Llyfrau Cymru. A chroeso i Helgard Krause, sef—beth yw’r teitl yn benodol? Nid yw e gen i o fy mlaen i. Prif weithredwr Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru. Nid wyf yn gallu ffeindio dim nawr—o, fan hyn. A wedyn yr Athro Wynn Thomas, sef y cadeirydd. Sori, mae’r system wedi newid ac mae wedi fy nhaflu fi rywfaint. Diolch yn fawr iawn i chi am ddod i mewn i roi tystiolaeth i ni yma heddiw. Rydym ni’n falch iawn o fod yn Aberystwyth, wrth gwrs, unwaith eto. Fel arfer, mae gennym ni cwestiynau ar themâu gwahanol. Byddaf i’n cychwyn, os yw hynny’n iawn. Felly, jest i gychwyn, sut ydych chi wedi addasu fel cyngor llyfrau i’r hinsawdd sydd ohoni? Yn amlwg, mae'r byd wedi newid o ran sut y mae pobl yn defnyddio llyfrau. Rŷm ni'n mynd i fynd ymlaen at y byd digidol yn hwyrach, felly does dim angen ffocysu ar hynny cweit ar hyn o bryd. Ond, beth sy'n digwydd ar hyn o bryd sy'n flaenoriaethau i chi fel sefydliad?
Welcome to item 3 on the agenda, which is scrutiny of the Welsh Books Council. I welcome Helgard Krause, who is—what's the title specifically? I don't have it before me. Chief executive of the Welsh Books Council. I can't seem to find anything at the moment. Right, here we are. And welcome to Professor Wynn Thomas also, the chair. Sorry, the system has changed and it's thrown me somewhat. Thank you, both, for coming in to give evidence this morning. I'm very pleased to be in Aberystwyth, of course, once again. As usual, we have questions on different themes. I will start, if that's okay. So, I'll start with this question: how have you adapted, as the books council, to the climate that we have now? Evidently, the world has changed in terms of how people use books. We're going to go on to digital issues later on, so we don't have to focus on that at present. But, what's happening at present that are priorities for you as an institution?
Gweithgareddau yw hynny, wrth gwrs. Felly, Helgard, a ŷch chi am roi manylion?
Well, that's a matter of activity. So, Helgard, would you like to give the details?
Ie, dim problem o gwbl. Rŷch chi yn hollol iawn. Mae'r byd llyfrau yn newid mwy, efallai, na rhai sectorau eraill. Yr her fwyaf i ni ar hyn o bryd yw sut yr ydym ni'n gallu sicrhau bod pobl ar draws Cymru yn gallu ffeindio llyfrau yn y siopau llyfrau, achos mae mwy a mwy o siopau yn cau. Mae pobl yn ymddeol. Mae'n anodd iawn i ennill cyflog go iawn drwy redeg siop lyfrau. Felly, dyna un o'r heriau mwyaf. Rŷm ni'n edrych ar fodelau gwahanol. Mae eisiau bod yn ofalus am beth yr ydym ni'n ei gynnig. Un o gynlluniau y flwyddyn nesaf yw cwrdd â gweisg a llyfrwerthwyr gyda'i gilydd ac edrych ar fodelau newydd—meddwl tipyn allan o'r bocs hefyd, efallai, a gweld beth yr ydym yn gallu ei wneud, yn arbennig yn yr ardaloedd lle nad oes siopau llyfrau neu lyfrau Cymraeg ar gael.
Rŷm ni hefyd yn gweithio'n agos iawn ar hyn o bryd gyda WHSmith i weld os ydyn nhw'n gallu cryfhau’r cynnig maen nhw'n ei roi. Mae hynny'n eithaf anodd gyda tsiaen sy'n gweld ei hun fel tsiaen Brydeinig nad yw, efallai, cweit yn gwybod am y gwahaniaeth. Ond, rŷm ni'n gweithio'n agos iawn gyda nhw, a gobeithio y bydd yna newyddion neis yn y flwyddyn i ddod am sut maen nhw'n newid. Felly, dyna un o'r ffyrdd rŷm ni'n edrych ar y farchnad am lyfrau print—sut yr ydym ni'n gallu cyrraedd y bobl. Hefyd, rŷm ni'n rhedeg peilot sydd wedi cael ei ariannu drwy Lywodraeth Cymru—ffeiriau llyfrau mewn ysgolion. Rŷm ni'n rhedeg peilot yng Ngheredigion ar hyn o bryd i gyrraedd y grŵp pwysig ond hefyd problematig hwnnw, sef y rhieni di-Gymraeg sydd â phlant mewn addysg Gymraeg—sut yr ydym ni'n gallu eu helpu a'u cefnogi nhw i ddewis llyfrau, i weld llyfrau ac i ddeall beth yw'r dewis gorau. Felly, mae yna sawl cynllun yr ydym yn eu rhedeg ar hyn o bryd i ddelio â hyn.
You're entirely right that the books world is changing more quickly than other sectors. The greatest challenge for us at the moment is how we ensure that people the length and breadth of Wales can access books in their bookshops, because more and more of these bookshops are closing. People are retiring. It's very difficult to make a proper living running a bookshop. So, that's one of the major challenges. We are looking at alternative models. We do need to be careful in terms of our offer. One of our plans for next year is to meet the publishers and booksellers together and to look for alternative models—and perhaps think outside the box to see what we can do, particularly in those areas where there are no bookshops or where there are no Welsh books available.
We are working very closely now with WHSmith to see if they can strengthen their offer. This is quite difficult with a chain that sees itself as a UK-wide chain and which perhaps doesn't quite understand the difference. But, we are working very closely with them at the moment, and we do hope that there will be some good news over the next 12 months as to how they will provide books. So, that's one of the ways that we are looking at the print market—how we can access the audience. We are also running a pilot that has been funded through the Welsh Government, and that is about book fairs in schools, and we are running that pilot in Ceredigion at the moment so that we can reach a very important and also problematic group, which is non-Welsh-speaking parents who have children in Welsh-medium education. So, we are looking at how we can assist and support them to choose books, to find books and to understand what the best choices for them are. So, there are a number of programmes that we are currently looking at to deal with that issue.
Ac, fel rŷch chi'n ei awgrymu, mae'r meysydd yn newid ar hyd yr adeg. Roeddem ni wedi rhagweld rai blynyddoedd yn ôl taw e-lyfrau fyddai'r maes twf mawr. Ond, fel yr ydych wedi deall, rwy'n siŵr, nid yw hynny'n hollol wir. Mae hynny'n dristwch i fi achos mae gen i 50 o e-lyfrau ar y Kindle, ac rydw i wedi eu darllen nhw i gyd. Ond, beth sy'n faes twf yw'r llyfrau clywedol, yr audio books. Rwy'n ffan enfawr o'r rheini; mae gen i 50 o rheini ac wedi rhoi llawer bant yn ogystal. Yr eironi i fi—achos mae gen i gof, wrth gwrs, o'r sefydliad yn mynd yn ôl degawdau—yw bod hwn yn faes y gwnaeth y cyngor llyfrau gyfrannu iddo fe yn gynnar iawn yn ei hanes, yn yr 1980au pan oedd fy merch i yn ifanc iawn. Rwy'n cofio teithio yn y car a gwrando ar T. Llew Jones yn darllen un o'i nofelau antur. Felly, mae'n dda gen i weld bod y maes yma nawr yn tyfu'n glou. Ond, rŷch chi'n berffaith iawn—mae angen inni adolygu ar hyd yr adeg ac ymaddasu. Nid fi sy'n gwneud y gwaith, ond Helgard a'r staff, ond rwy'n falch iawn o'r hyn y maen nhw'n ei wneud.
And, as you suggested, these areas change all the time, of course. We foresaw some years ago that e-books would be the growth area. But, as I'm sure you appreciate, that's not entirely true and I find that quite sad because I have 50 e-books on the Kindle and I've read them all. But, what is a growth area is the audio books. I'm a huge fan of them. I have 50 of those, and I've given many away as well. The irony for me—because I have a great memory, of course, of this institution going back decades—is that this is an area that the books council contributed to very early in its history, in the 1980s, when my daughter was very young. I remember travelling by car and listening to T. Llew Jones reading one of his adventure novels. So, I'm pleased to see that this area is growing very quickly. But, you are entirely right—we need to review all the time and adjust and adapt. I'm not doing the work, as that's down to Helgard and the staff, but I'm very proud of what they do.
Roeddech chi'n sôn am rieni di-Gymraeg. A ydych chi'n gweithio o gwbl gyda Mudiad Meithrin, sydd nawr wedi cael arian ychwanegol gan y Llywodraeth yn rhan o'r angen i gyrraedd miliwn o siaradwyr erbyn 2050, i gael mwy o rieni di-Gymraeg i anfon eu plant at fudiadau ysgolion meithrin, a wedyn, wrth wrth gwrs, fel eu bod yn mynd i ysgolion—?
So, you mentioned the non-Welsh-speaking parents. Are you working with Mudiad Meithrin, which has received additional funding from the Government as part of the target to reach a million Welsh speakers by 2050, to encourage more non-Welsh-speaking parents to send their children to Mudiad Meithrin institutions and then, of course, on to Welsh-medium education?
Rŷm ni wedi rhannu gwaith ymchwil Beaufort ac adolygiad Siwan Rosser gyda Mudiad Meithrin, ac rydym ni'n edrych ar gynlluniau ar gyfer sut rŷm ni'n gallu eu cefnogi nhw. Wrth gwrs, rŷm ni'n lwcus iawn bod un o gyn-swyddogion Mudiad Meithrin, sef Mererid Boswell, wedi ymuno â'r cyngor llyfrau fel pennaeth busnes a chyllid, ac mae hi'n gyfarwydd iawn â gwaith meithrin. Rŷm ni'n bendant yn adeiladu cynlluniau o ran sut i gefnogi hynny. I ni, beth sy'n gallu cymhlethu pethau—. Rŷm ni'n cefnogi diwydiant, so mae eisiau cofio bod yna siopau llyfrau yn y mix hefyd, ac nid ydym ni moyn tanseilio eu gwaith nhw, ond cefnogi a chael y sector i gyd i gydweithio—gweisg a mudiadau gwahanol ond hefyd y siopau llyfrau—fel bod pawb yn gallu cymryd rhan, achos mae'r gacen sydd ar gael—yr arian rydych chi'n gallu ei ennill drwy werthu llyfrau—yn eithaf bach. So, mae eisiau bod yn ofalus nad ydym yn tanseilio siopau annibynnol sy'n trio ennill arian drwy werthu llyfrau hefyd.
We have shared the Beaufort research and the Rosser review with Mudiad Meithrin, and we are looking at plans relating to how we can support them. We're very lucky that a former Mudiad Meithrin official, Mererid Boswell, has joined the books council as the head of business and finance, and she is very familiar with the work in that sector. We are certainly building on plans on how how to support that. For us, what can complicate issues is—. We're supporting an industry, so we have to remember that bookshops are in the mix as well, and we don't want to undermine their work, but to support them and get the sector to collaborate—publishers and different organisations, but also bookshops—so that everyone can take part in this, because the cake available—the money that you can earn through book sales—is quite small. So, we need to be careful that we don't undermine independent shops that are trying to earn money through book sales.
Beth sy'n ddiddorol i fi, achos mae hwn yn faes pwysig iawn i ni i gyd sy'n siaradwyr Cymraeg, yw bod yr arolwg diweddar wedi tanlinellu'r angen i helpu rhieni di-Gymraeg i adnabod y llyfrau fyddai'n berthnasol ac yn briodol ar gyfer eu plant nhw. Mae hynny'n bwysig. Nid oeddwn i wedi meddwl am hynny. Mae'n wedd wahanol ar y sefyllfa, ac felly mae hwn yn faes rydym ni yn cyfrannu ato fe ar hyn o bryd.
What is interesting for me, because this is a very important area for us all who are Welsh speakers, is that the recent survey highlighted the need to assist non-Welsh speaking parents to identify the books that would be most relevant and appropriate for their children. That's very important. I hadn't really considered that previously, but it's a different slant on the situation, and this is an area that we are contributing to at the moment.
Hollol, ac rydym ni'n edrych ar ryw ffordd i frandio llyfrau i'w wneud yn gliriach i rieni di-Gymraeg pa fath o lyfrau ydyn nhw. Rydym ni'n edrych ar rai holy cows, fel rhoi efallai darn bach yn Saesneg ar lyfr Cymraeg, ar y cefn, i helpu pobl i ddeall beth yw'r llyfr hwn, i helpu egluro pwy yw Bethan Gwanas, er enghraifft, achos un o findings y gwaith ymchwil oedd bod yna rai rhieni, wrth gwrs, yn dewis David Walliams yn Gymraeg, achos maen nhw'n gwybod yn union beth mae e wedi ei wneud, a nid oes neb angen egluro pwy ydy David Walliams. Ond, felly, i rieni di-Gymraeg maen rhaid i ni wneud yn siwr eu bod nhw'n deall pwy ydy Bethan Gwanas, pwy ydy Elin Meek ac yn y blaen, ac yn y blaen, a helpu hyn. Mae yna ffyrdd gwahanol rydym ni'n gallu datblygu hwn, ond eto mae'n rhaid i hwn gydfynd â'r gweisg a bod yn ymdrech genedlaethol. Nid oes pwynt gwneud pethau mewn isolation, ond mae eisiau wir ddatblygu rhyw gynllun, ac rydw i'n meddwl rhyw teip o frand ble rydym ni'n gallu defnyddio lliwiau i ddweud 'hwn yw'r un i blant o dan 5' neu 'lan i 10 mlwydd oed'—pethau gwahanol fel hyn.
Exactly, and we're looking at some ways to brand books to make it clearer for non-Welsh speaking parents what kind of books they are. We are looking at some holy cows, by providing perhaps a section in English on the back of a book just to help parents understand the nature of the book, and to explain who Bethan Gwanas is, for instance, because one of the findings of the research was that some parents, of course, choose David Walliams in Welsh, because they know exactly what he has done, and no-one needs to explain who David Walliams is. But, therefore, for non-Welsh speaking parents we need to ensure that they understand who Bethan Gwanas, who Elin Meek and so forth, are, and help them. There are different ways that we can develop this, but again this has to align with the publishers and be a national effort. There is no point doing things in isolation, but we really need to develop a plan, and I think some kind of brand where we can use colours to say 'this is for under-fives' or 'up to 10 years old'—different things like that.
A beth o ran tueddiadau gwerthu yn y Gymraeg a'r Saesneg? A oes yna wahaniaeth mawr ar hyn o bryd rhwng y tueddiadau? A allwch chi esbonio tamaid bach am hynny?
And what about sales trends in Welsh and English? Is there a major difference at the moment between those trends? Could you explain a little more about that?
Mae yn wahanol. Mae jest eisiau cofio mai'r diwydiant cyhoeddi yn Lloegr yw'r un mwyaf yn y byd—y mwyaf—yn fwy nag yn America. Maen nhw'n hynod o lwyddiannus, mae lot o adnoddau gyda nhw i ddatblygu'r awduron gorau yn y byd, ac mae hwn yn creu sefyllfa ble mae—. Rydym ni yn wlad fach iawn ac mae'n rhaid i ni weld sut rydym ni'n gallu defnyddio beth sy'n dda yn Lloegr—rhai modelau; addasu nhw—ac adeiladu ar beth rydym ni yn ei wneud. Ond, wrth gwrs, mae'r ochr Gymraeg yn hollol self-contained: dim ond yng Nghymru rydych yn gallu prynu llyfrau Cymraeg. Ni sydd yn eu hariannu nhw. Mae gweisg yn arwain ar hwn. Mae llyfrau Saesneg yn lot mwy anodd, a'r perygl ar hyn o bryd yw nad oes digon o lyfrau Saesneg sy'n cael eu creu yng Nghymru gyda delwedd, gyda vision, gyda llais Cymraeg. Dyna'r her fwyaf.
It is different. You just need to bear in mind that the publishing industry in England is the largest in the world. It is bigger than the industry in the USA. They are very successful, they have a great many resources to develop the best authors in the world, and this does create a situation where—. We're a very small nation and we do have to consider how we can make best use of what's available in England—some models that we can adapt—and build on what we already do. But, in terms of the Welsh-medium side, that's totally self-contained: it's only in Wales that you can buy Welsh books. We fund them. The publishers lead on this. In terms of English language books, it's far more difficult, and the risk at the moment is that we don't have enough English language publications that are created and published in Wales with a Welsh image and a Welsh voice. That's the major challenge.
Achos maen nhw'n mynd i Loegr i gael eu cyhoeddi, gan amlaf.
Because they go to England for publication, very often.
Yn aml iawn, neu, os ydym ni'n eu cefnogi, mae yna lot llai o traction ar gael, achos os rydych chi'n rhedeg Waterstones yng Nghaerdydd, mae Waterstones yn llawn o lyfrau o Loegr, achos pencadlys Waterstones sy'n penderfynu pa lyfrau sy'n mynd ble, ac mae'r section Cymraeg a Chymreig yn dod o dan 'local books'.
Yes, very often, or, if we support them, then there is much less traction, because if you're running Waterstones in Cardiff, for example, Waterstones is full of books from England, because the Waterstones HQ decides which books are going where, and the Welsh section goes under the 'local books' category.
Dyna pam, gyda llaw—rydych yn sôn am awduron yn troi, wrth gwrs, yn naturiol, tuag at Loegr ar gyfer eu cyhoeddi—mae'r grantiau mor bwysig, ac un cynllun yn arbennig, sef grantiau comisiwn, achos pwrpas hwnnw yw i alluogi gweisg i droi at awdur o fri a chynnig swm iddi hi neu iddo fe i ysgrifennu llyfr, neu gynllunio ac wedyn ysgrifennu llyfr ar gyfer y wasg honno, a gyda'r posibilrwydd o gynnig swm sylweddol, priodol, ar gyfer y gwaith, ac mae hynny wedi gweithio. Hynny yw, mae hi wedi ein galluogi ni i gadw rhai awduron yma yng Nghymru a fyddai, fel arall, wedi croesi'r ffin. Ni allwch chi eu cadw nhw i gyd.
That is why, by the way—you mentioned authors turning naturally towards England for publishing—the grants are so important, and one specific scheme, namely the commission grants, because the purpose of that is to allow publishers to turn to a renowned author and offer him or her an amount of money to write a book or plan and then write a book for that publisher, and with the possibility of offering a significant, appropriate, amount of money for that work, and that has worked. It has allowed us to keep some authors here in Wales who, otherwise, would have gone across the border. You can't keep them all, of course.
Ond faint sydd o fewn eich gallu chi i wneud o fewn y cyfyngiadau cyllidebol?
But what's your ability to do that within the financial restrictions that you face?
Wel, leiciwn i gael mwy, ond y gwir amdani yw bod yna ddigon o arian o leiaf i gychwyn ar y gwaith yna a chadw rhai o'r awduron hynny yng Nghymru, ac mae hynny'n codi safon, wrth gwrs. A hefyd mae'n cynyddu gwerthiant, achos os oes gyda chi awdur adnabyddus sydd yn cyhoeddi gyda gwasg o Gymru, wel, wedyn mae'n fwy tebygol y bydd y llyfr yn gwerthu. Un enghraifft fach yw hynny, ond dyna pam mae'r grantiau cyhoeddi—maen nhw'n amrywiol ac maen nhw gyda wahanol bwrpas i'r gwahanol fathau. Ond maen nhw'n hynod werthfawr, hynod ddefnyddiol. Rŷm ni'n ddiolchgar iawn, wrth gwrs, i'r Llywodraeth am hynny.
Well, we'd like to have more, but the truth is that there's enough money at least to start on that work and to keep some of those authors in Wales, and that raises standards, of course. And it increases sales, because, if you have a renowned author who publishes with a Welsh publisher, well, it's more likely that the book will sell. That's one small example, but that's why the grants for publishing—they do vary, with different purposes for different kinds. But they're very valuable and they're very useful. We're very grateful to the Government for that.
Y cwestiwn olaf sydd gen i, ac mae'n siŵr nad ydym ni eisiau mynd i mewn i holl fanylder y peth eto, ond mae Llywodraeth Cymru, y Gweinidog, wedi gofyn i chi gydweithredu yn fwy agos â Llenyddiaeth Cymru nawr, yn sgil yr adolygiad a ddaeth allan. Yn sicr, ar y pryd, roeddech chi'n ymddangos yn weddol bositif o allu gwneud peth o'r hyn a oedd yn cael ei gynnig i chi yr oedd Llenyddiaeth Cymru yn ei wneud ar y pryd, ond nawr mae'n edrych fel na fydd hynny yn cael ei drosglwyddo i chi. Beth yw'ch barn ar hyn, a sut ydych chi'n bwriadu ceisio gweithio â Llenyddiaeth Cymru yn y dyfodol?
The final question from me, and I don't think we need to go into the minutiae of this at the moment, but the Welsh Government, the Minister, has asked you to work more closely with Literature Wales now, in light of the review. Certainly, at the time, you appeared to be quite positive in terms of taking on some of the responsibilities of Literature Wales, but it seems now that this will not be transferred to you. What's your opinion on this, and how do you intend to work with Literature Wales in the future?
Wel, mae'r penderfyniad wedi ei wneud, felly nid oes pwynt adolygu'r penderfyniad. Rŷm ni'n eithaf bodlon ar y canlyniad, yn yr ystyr rŷm ni'n barod iawn i gydweithio â Llenyddiaeth Cymru. Os caf i grynhoi ble ydw i arni fel cadeirydd, ac wedyn fe all Helgard fanylu ar y camau eisoes sydd wedi'u cymryd i wireddu'r hyn sydd gan y Gweinidog mewn golwg. Ond o fy safbwynt i fel cadeirydd—cadeirydd, cofiwch chi, corff annibynnol, corff elusennol; dyna beth yw’r cyngor llyfrau. Mae'n derbyn grant gan y Llywodraeth ond mae'n gorff ar wahân. Felly, fel cadeirydd, rydw i'n atebol, wrth gwrs, i'r ymddiriedolwyr. Y ni, fel corff ymddiriedolwyr, sy'n atebol wedyn i'r Charities Commission.
Felly, ble rŷm ni arni—fe dderbyniom ni'r llythyr ym mis Hydref. Ces i gyfle i ymgynghori â'r prif swyddogion o fewn dim o dro, a halais i ateb. Fel roeddech chi'n ei awgrymu, roedd y llythyr yn ein gorchymyn ni i gydweithio gorau y gallem ni â Llenyddiaeth Cymru, a fy ateb i oedd: rydym ni ond yn rhy barod i wneud hynny. Mae'n adeiladu ar y partneriaethau sydd gennym ni yn barod, sy'n llwyddiannus iawn—gan gynnwys, gyda llaw, partneriaeth gyda Llenyddiaeth Cymru, ond yn sicr mai yna le i wella ar honno. Felly, roeddem ni'n barod iawn i wneud hynny. Yfory bydd y cyfle cyntaf i mi rannu'r llythyr a'i gynnwys gydag ymddiriedolwyr y pwyllgor gwaith, ac, ar ôl hynny, gyda'r cyngor. Felly, o'm rhan i fel cadeirydd, fanna rwyf i arni. Ond, yn y cyfamser, wrth gwrs, mae Helgard wedi sicrhau bod yna ddechrau wedi bod ar y gwaith.
Well, the decision has been made, so there's no point reviewing that decision. We're quite content with the outcome, in the sense that we are very willing to co-operate or collaborate with Literature Wales. If I can summarise where I am as a Chair, then Helgard can provide the details on the actions that are being taken to realise what the Minister has in mind. So, as a chair—a chair of an independent body, a charity; that's what the books council is. It receives money from the Government, but it is a separate body. So, as the chair, I am accountable to the trustees. We, as a body of trustees, are accountable, then, to the Charities Commission.
So, where we are is we got the letter in October. I had an opportunity to consult with the senior officials, and I sent a response. As you suggest, the letter did order us to collaborate as best we could with Literature Wales, and my response was: well, we're only too willing to do that. It builds on the partnerships that we already have, which are very successful—including, by the way, a partnership with Literature Wales, but certainly there is room for improvement there. So, I was very willing to do that. Tomorrow will be the first opportunity for me to share that letter and the content with the trustees of the executive committee and then with the council. So, as a chair, that's where I am on this. But in the meantime, of course, Helgard has ensured that the work has started.
Ond a ydych chi'n credu bod e'n colli cyfle, efallai—bod rhai o'r newidiadau a oedd yn yr adroddiad ddim nawr yn digwydd?
But do you think this is a missed opportunity—in terms of that some of the changes in the report aren't now happening?
Wel, rŷm ni'n dal o'r un farn ag oeddem ni o'r blaen, sef gallem ni fod yn gwneud y gwaith, rwy'n credu, mewn ffordd dderbyniol iawn—
Well, we're still of the same view as we were previously, that we could be taking on that work—
Boed beth mae'r Gweinidog yn ei wneud.
Whatever the Minister does.
—ond, rŷch chi'n gwybod, nid oes pwynt, nac oes, ailagor y drafodaeth a'r ddadl, ac rŷm ni'n parchu'r penderfyniad. Fel y dywedais i, rŷm ni nid yn unig yn barod, ond rŷm ni'n eiddgar, a dweud y gwir, nawr, i gydweithredu yn yr union ffordd a oedd gyda'r Gweinidog mewn golwg.
—but there's no point in reopening that particular discussion and debate, and we respect the decision. As I said, we are not only willing but we are also eager to collaborate in exactly the way the Minister had in mind.
Nid ydym ni—. Rydw i moyn ychwanegu: nid ydym ni wedi aros am lythyr y Gweinidog i ddechrau cydweithio, achos, i mi, roedd hi'n eithaf amlwg bod yna lot o gyfleon i gydweithio â Llenyddiaeth Cymru, achos pan oeddwn i'n dechrau yn y swydd, roeddwn i wedi edrych ar y sector i gyd a gweld ei bod hi'n werthfawr iawn i gydweithio. Rydw i'n teimlo'n eithaf pendant bod yna strength in numbers, ac, rydw i'n meddwl, i'r cyrff gwahanol gydweithio, mae o yn beth da. So, rydym ni wedi cydweithio ar Ffair Lyfrau Llundain. Rydym ni'n wedi cydweithio. Rydym ni'n cydweithio ar gynllun bardd plant Cymru. Rydym ni nawr ar grŵp panel—. Mae un o aelodau'r cyngor llyfrau'n rhan o'r panel ysgoloriaethau Llenyddiaeth Cymru. Rydym ni wedi cwrdd â Lleucu sawl gwaith i drafod eu cynllun strategol nhw, a jest yr wythnos hon cawsom ni gyfarfod gyda gweision sifil a chyngor y celfyddydau a Llenyddiaeth Cymru i drafod cynlluniau ymhellach, ac rydym ni'n rhan o'r drafodaeth sydd wedi datblygu Llyfr y Flwyddyn â nhw, a hefyd rydym ni'n edrych sut rydym ni'n gallu rhannu'r wybodaeth a chefnogi y cynllun 'awdur ar daith'. Rydym ni wedi dechrau'r sgwrs hwn cyn hyd yn oed cael llythyr y Gweinidog achos, o'r dechrau, rydym ni wedi bod yn barod i gydweithio'n agos iawn, ac mae yna'n wir—. Rydw i'n teimlo'n eithaf hyderus y bydd y cydweithrediad yn eithaf collegiate ac, yn wir, yn werthfawr i ni ddatblygu talent. Un o'n enghreifftiau bach, ond cyffrous: rydym ni'n cydredeg cwrs yn Nhŷ Newydd i awduron a darlunwyr i gydweithio am wythnos. Rydym ni'n ariannu, gyda Llenyddiaeth Cymru, cwrs am wythnos am ddim i 18 o bobl sydd dan arweiniad Jac Jones i ddatblygu straeon yn wreiddiol o Gymru i'r plant. Peth bach, ond gwerthfawr iawn i ddatblygu talent yng Nghymru.
I'd just like to add that we haven't been waiting for the Minister's letter before we started to collaborate, because it was clear to me that there were many opportunities to work with Literature Wales, because when I started in post I looked at the entire sector and I saw that it would be very valuable to collaborate. I feel very certainly that there is strength in numbers, and I think it is positive for all of the different organisations to work together. So, we've worked on the London Book Fair. We've collaborated. We've worked on the bardd plant Cymru scheme. We are now—. One of the members of the books council is part of the Literature Wales scholarships panel. We have met Lleucu several times to discuss their strategic plan, and just this week we had a meeting with civil servants and the arts council along with Literature Wales to discuss further collaboration, and we're participating in the discussions on the Book of the Year award with them, and we're looking at how we can share information and support the author on tour, awdur ar daith, programme. And we've started this work even before we got the Minister's letter, because, from the very outset, we've been more than happy to work closely with them, and I feel quite confident that the collaboration will be quite collegiate and will be truly valuable for us to develop talent. One minor but very exciting example: we are currently jointly running a course at Tŷ Newydd for authors and designers to work together. That's a week-long course and we're funding it along with Literature Wales. It's free of charge for those participating, and there are 18 taking that course, led by Jac Jones, to develop originally Welsh stories for children. Now, that's a small example, but it's very valuable in developing talent in Wales.
Wel, gwnawn ni gadw golwg ar eich datblygiadau. Gobeithio bydd popeth yn collegiate a bod pethau'n bositif yn y dyfodol.
Well, we'll keep an eye on those developments, and I hope that everything is collegiate and that there are positive developments in the future.
Nid ydw i'n poeni am hwn o gwbl.
I'm not concerned about that at all.
Grêt. Symud ymlaen yn awr at ddarparu grantiau, a chwestiynau gan Rhianon Passmore.
Great. I'll move on now to grant provision, and questions from Rhianon Passmore.
Diolch, Chair. You've already outlined some steps in terms of progress, in terms of coordinating your roles more strategically and more collaboratively, and that's extremely welcome for the writers and authors of Wales. So, in that regard, how are the bursaries going to be targeted for writers in a more collaborative way? Have you got a strategic, unified plan yet? I take it probably 'no', because it's not been brought forward to the board yet, this letter from the Minister. So, what are your future plans in this regard?
We had a meeting on Tuesday to discuss the next steps, under the leadership of civil servants from the department, and it was agreed that we would prepare a short strategy document together to outline what the next steps are, and we have taken some small steps, like one of our members of staff is now a part of the bursaries panel, and it was very welcome. The panel felt that his contribution was very worthwhile. We also agreed that we—. Because our panels meet five times a year, so it's a much more regular occurrence than the bursary panels, and we have that much broader scope, that we would share in a more structured way the gaps that we perceive to exist in Wales so that we say, 'Okay, we need to concentrate on this particular subject', and Literature Wales have agreed that they will support that by making particular calls for specific subjects, by saying to authors, 'Look, we need some gritty, young adult, dystopian fiction', or, 'We want something for under fives that looks at the legends of Wales', or, 'We want some adult fiction that is easy to read for reluctant readers'. So, they will actively invite those subject areas.
So, that's very encouraging. In regard to the embryonic stage we are in, in terms of this cultural collaboration now for the future, do you feel that this is actively going to work as we move forward? Because there has been much water under the bridge in this particular matter, and I think it's really important for writers and authors across Wales that we get this right. So, in your regard, you are absolutely wedded to the idea now that there will be a more collaborative and strategic approach, and you believe that you will be working towards more unified strategies around the bursaries.
I think—. I wouldn't say they're 'unified', but they're very joined-up.
Because the way it works is our grant system is geared towards the publishing industry, so it goes to publishers, and the grants from Literature Wales are geared towards writers and—
I'm a former member of the books council, so—. Just in case others don't know.
And so they work very differently. But if we can coordinate and say, 'These are the gaps that we perceive in terms of talent', Literature Wales can support where maybe presses might feel, 'It's commercially not viable, but, actually, there are some really good ideas'. Literature Wales can feed authors through the grant system, and let them develop and take some risks that maybe a commercial publisher would not take, because, ultimately, all the applications that we get come from a publisher, and those publishers take a view on whether they want to take a risk on a particular publication. So, I think they are very complementary.
I think also, just to add to that, although, of course, I'm reliant here on reports from Helga, because I don't sit on that particular joint committee at the minute, but what they're also working towards is constructing some sort of clear map of the provision that's available. So, you can see quite clearly then where you should turn, depending on what you have in mind, because I can understand, from the author's point of view, you've got two bodies and, actually, they are distinct and they do complement each other, but that may not always be clear to authors. Therefore, it would be good to have a chart, effectively, that would show exactly what the different schemes are intended to do. So, that's also in hand, as I understand it.
Okay, and that would be very useful for us to be understanding of in the future, as a committee. You've mentioned, I think you called it the 'holy cow'. I remember 10 years ago, as a non-Welsh speaking parent of a Welsh-medium child, stating this very issue. So, I'm still marginally concerned that we haven't moved any further forward on that, bearing in mind the 1 million Welsh speaker target, bearing in mind investment across early years. Surely you have a very strategic role within that in terms of propagating future readers and, obviously, future writers? Why has that not been progressed?
Well, I can't speak for the Welsh Books Council before I joined it. I am absolutely committed to making this happen. I'm a Welsh learner myself; I know exactly the challenges one faces when trying to get hold of books and understanding them in the very early stages of learning the language. I'm 100 per cent committed. I do think it needs to be done sensibly and sensitively as well, because the efforts that are made for the Welsh language community also need to be taken into consideration. But there are some—
Surely, there is too much sensitivity around this matter. If you know that you have a cohort of non-Welsh-speaking parents and this issue hasn't changed—it's grown—surely we now need to grasp the proverbial bull by the horns and go for it.
Yes, and we're going to do that. There are already some developments under way where, for example—. There is actually no didactic consensus on what is the best way of doing this, whether it's bilingual books, whether the English text is underneath it, whether you should have flaps where there's—
That'll be for your discussion.
There are actually some didactic considerations, and we need to work more closely with the education sector to really drill down to what it is that actually works, because I think in the past there have been maybe too many assumptions made about what actually works, and also not all things work for all people. That's another thing, but I tend to take a 70-per-cent-success-rate approach: if it works for 70 per cent of people, that's—
Okay, I have a final question, if I may, Chair. The independent review, which I've referred to earlier on, said that your grant support does not encourage risk taking and testing of the market. So, have you any view?
Again, I can't speak for the Welsh Books Council before I joined. I certainly am not risk averse. I quite like to try things, but we also have small sums of money available and we have to be careful that they are used in a sensible way. We have just recently, on the Welsh language side, I would say, taken risks through the support of Welsh magazines, and there were two websites that don't strictly fall into what we would typically fund: Mam Cymru is one, and the other one is Parallel Cymru. There were some concerns about some of the development they need so they didn't qualify for a fully fledged magazine grant, but they got development grants where we are giving them guidance on which areas they should be developing. There's absolutely no guarantee that anything will come of that, so I think this is a good example of taking some risks.
With other areas, such as audio books, they are extremely difficult and expensive to produce. I don't feel that it would be a sensible risk to take out of the current grant provisions, but we're making some applications that—we're making to some third sector, especially Nesta, to see whether they will support some testing of the market, how we can develop—
And in regard to your position as chair, Wynn, have you got a view on that?
Sorry, yes. I was just thinking then, actually, that was why I had my head down. I was remembering—you know that format that's been so popular in Japan, what I call the picture books. There's a special name for them, isn't there?
Yes, those. I well remember the Welsh Books Council going out on a limb, actually, and commissioning some of those in Welsh. That didn't go down well. It turned out that, in fact, there isn't a great market in Wales for that type of book. It's a small example of the risks that we do routinely take anyway. I mean, there are certain innovative—
It's hard to understand, given the market for Marvel and—
Yes, it is, isn't it?
You'd think that would translate.
I think the market has changed, actually. I do think the books council was maybe a little bit ahead of its time.
Do you want us to have another go at it?
I like them.
We are ready—. We are ready because of that—
You should make a female politician superpower.
You're supposed to do that, are you?
If you think about—
Yes, that would be good. Not thinking of anybody in particular. [Laughter.]
—Mellten the comic magazine—
They're very expensive.
—for Welsh children. So, we are—. I think one of the key things is that we have to respond to how the market changes, and graphic novels and comics are a good example. Also, it is about—even within Wales, markets work differently. We had an extremely successful Eisteddfod, and comics sold disproportionately better in Cardiff than they probably will do in Llanrwst, and this is just a fact of life, and we need—
And you've not considered a bilingual Marvel comic with a strong female lead? We'll leave that to you—operational. [Laughter.]
Okay, we'll move on now.
I will take that away as food for thought.
I could get into trouble. [Laughter.]
David, we're going to go to digital first, if that's okay.
Yes. I think, last year, you said to this committee that you felt digital activity and digital engagement was an area you needed to do better in. Have you made some progress? Are you hopeful for the future?
We've definitely made some progress in terms of our digital marketing, because, basically, I encouraged and instructed the sales and marketing department to really engage much more creatively because I think there was a sense previously that the books council should be very much operating in the background and shouldn't push itself too much. I've encouraged them to be a bit playful and to use Twitter, Facebook and Instagram in the way they are used and not worry too much about putting a foot wrong, because that was, I think, really the hindrance in the beginning, and I said to them, 'Look, take some small risks within certain parameters and see how it goes', and our social media following has really, really increased. We're routinely seeing 20 per cent to 25 per cent increases on our followers, engagement has increased, and following that involvement, we've—.
I've just recently reorganised the sales and marketing department to be split out so that we have a sales department that now also includes schools officers, and we're going to have a dedicated marketing department and also communications department. It's challenging to make this happen, because we have no additional funding. So, this is restructuring internal capacity to answer those issues, and the next step will be that we're looking for a more strategic partnership with PRs and communications agencies that can do the delivery for us so that we create the content and they make sure this content arrives in the right places because that level of expertise is unaffordable to us. We can't hire in the talent—the capacity—at those kinds of salaries. So, we're going to have a mixed approach where, internally, we're creating the stories and the content and then we're using the expertise to deliver it.
In terms of the more obvious digital provision, which is Gwales.com, we have not made any progress because this is very much tied up with a bid for financial support to wholesale review and refresh the digital provision at the books council, and that includes its systems for distribution, finance and grants. There is, at the moment, an outline bid with Welsh Government. They confirmed that it made sense, but also confirmed that it was difficult to find the money. So, we're working, at the moment, with officers to see from where the finance for this can come. But, as you can imagine, a website that supports 15,000 individual titles with content is a pretty vast undertaking, and it's not something that we can do on a shoestring.
We had done a test bid with the National Lottery to see whether they would be interested in it, because we felt this is very much a community provision. They closed the door at the first test phase, saying, 'Doesn't qualify.' You have to try again, and try differently. I'm not going to be deterred from that. Certainly, looking at third sector funding opportunities is a key issue for us here, and we, very fortunately, connected with the Institute of Fundraising, and they have selected us to do some mentoring and some upskilling with our team, and we will be looking at other third sector grants, specifically for the digital provision, because it is just very costly to develop. But irrespective of the financial realities, we will have to do something in this area because, for me, Gwales.com is an important window, not just here, but also internationally.
As chair, that's the biggest challenge that concerns me, actually, the IT challenge, because it's quite serious because it is quite challenging. It isn't only that the system that we've got and which we're entirely dependent on is now getting old, and, therefore, it does need updating, but, unfortunately, the company that installed it and that supports it is going out of business in a few years' time, and, therefore, we have had advance warning that, thereafter, there'll be no support for that IT system. So, we have to find a new one, and that's an expensive undertaking, and any help the committee could give us in that regard would be greatly appreciated. I mean, Helgard is already trying to think of all sorts of possible avenues, and it has already been raised, of course, very pointedly with the Minister, but it does concern me because, obviously, the books council can't function without a proper IT system, and just one aspect of it, to come back to what Helgard said, is there's a need now to refresh Gwales. I mean, the reason, you see, why Gwales needs refreshing is because the Welsh Books Council was first in that field in many respects in Wales, and it has been first with many innovations in the digital field. I mean, we could list them between us, going right back over the years, the apps and the e-books and all the rest of it. We've enabled publishers to take advantage of the digital revolution, but now, unfortunately, as I say, we ourselves are beginning to face a challenge.
I wanted to talk about e-books as well, which, actually, you've heard mentioned and to say they've not quite become as dominant as was, perhaps, expected five or six years ago. I should mention I've published an e-book, and I was greatly helped because I did it in collaboration with a think-tank. Editorial and design work in particular was done by them, and it got reasonable distribution and got reviewed in several places. It was on constitutional thoughts: it was never going to be a mass seller, so it was, perhaps, quite—
Oh, I don't know; it was a failure of marketing. [Laughter.]
So, an e-book was quite a good approach. So, I'm just wondering what—. It seems to me, with e-publishing, it opens the market to a lot of authors. Now, the quality's going to vary, but is there any way of developing some basic packages to help with the actual design and the processes and where they may distribute and how that is done? And then, despite the fact, you know, if it does open to people a lot more opportunity, some literature will first appear in an e-book format that will really—. It will be a jewel, won't it, because we will be coming across new talent or new insight or whatever? So, how's this all affecting your work, or is it a bit parked in a corner now and we're not quite seeing the shift we were expecting?
It's quite an interesting—. Again, it shows how different the markets are. English language e-books are firmly established—they are seen as just another format. The majority of our English language publishers in receipt of grants publish pretty much everything as an e-book, and they then distribute through their various platforms. And it's just how it works. On the Welsh language side, the uptake has been much, much smaller. Even though we made, for quite a number of years, specific grants available for conversion to e-books in the Welsh language, the take-up is very, very small. So, some of the Welsh publishers are taking a strategic approach—they look at their list, they look at the books that lend themselves the most to e-books and they'll publish them into that format. But the take-up vary rarely is more than 5 per cent of the print sales, whereas, for some English books, it's often 25 to 30 per cent. So, that's the e-book provision that we support.
It doesn't happen the other way around where people publish in e-format first? That's the form of publishing, then, so it's not published traditionally.
It's not something that happens very often, if at all, with Welsh publishers. There are, however, in Britain, a number of commercial organisations that specialise in that. They're offering publishing services, and Amazon offers publishing services to authors—anybody can publish a book with Amazon if they so wish. So, in Britain, there are services available that authors can access, to varying degrees, depending on how much they are willing to pay—they get editorial services, a design service and so forth. So, there is actually a solid commercial provision that authors can access. I don't see it as the role of the books council to compete with those commercial providers.
Okay. So, there's no gap in the market, then.
Not really. I think the only place where there may be a gap is, of course, on Welsh language skills, but there are a lot of freelance editors working who can be contracted in to ensure that the text is of a good quality. So, I don't see that as a role for us to compete in, in a section that is mainly not located in Wales but is accessible to British authors.