Case Story: Newcastle Emlyn Library
Carmarthenshire County Council’s First Automated Library
“Thanks to the self-service Lyngsoe LibCabinets, Newcastle Emlyn Library is the first library in Wales to offer an automated service. Our staff and customers have really taken to the self-service cabinets and the way that people access the library, and our digital services, have completely transformed. It’s fair to say that Newcastle Emlyn Library is a library of the future.”
Cllr. Gareth John, Carmarthenshire Council's Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Leisure, Culture and Tourism
From roof damage to a new home
Carmarthenshire County Council operates fourteen branch libraries, three regional libraries and a Mobile Library service throughout Carmarthenshire.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Newcastle Emlyn Library’s building was deemed no longer fit for purpose and replaced with a temporary mobile service. This prompted the library to look for a new permanent building in the town and they subsequently co-located to Cawdor Hall, a local town council building.
With space at a premium within the shared premises, a solution was required to make best use of the available area while providing a quality library service to the local community. Carmarthenshire Libraries had previously come across Lyngsoe Systems’ products and approached us to partner with them and trial a self-service library at Newcastle Emlyn Library.
Driving innovation in the community
Following a successful bid to the Welsh Governments’ Cultural Recovery Grant, Carmarthenshire Libraries selected Lyngsoe LibCabinet and Hublet for the pilot project, choosing the foyer in Cawdor Hall as the ideal self-service location. The products make best use of limited space while maximizing the number of hours the library can operate as they don’t need to be manned at all times.
The Lyngsoe LibCabinets operate much like a vending machine, creating a mini self-service library. This new, automated library service operates in the same way as Newcastle Emlyn’s previous service – new titles are added at the same frequency – with the added benefit of the library being open for longer.
We also introduced Hublet self-service tablets to increase digital inclusion. The Hublet tablets complement the LibCabinets as they are a popular way of accessing library catalogues to order titles that are not immediately available. Customers also use them to access the library’s other digital services, including audio books, e-books, newspapers and magazines.
The new, automated library created a buzz in the community. During the installation, such was the level of interest, passersby knocked on the door to ask what was going on or peeked through the foyer window to catch a glimpse.
A successful pilot
The pilot launched in February 2022 with a number of sessions running introducing the local community to the new technology available, with the new service proving incredibly popular. Most customers have found the technology intuitive and easy to use. The self-service solutions have enabled the library to significantly increase service levels, with the library opening from 8am-8pm, Monday-Saturday, which is twice as long before, as well as quadrupling customer visits.
Not only are there benefits for the local community, but there have also been huge improvements for library staff. The self-service products free up staff time, enabling the team to focus on other more valuable tasks, such as engaging with local community groups and schools.
Changing libraries’ DNA
Carmarthenshire is a rural county, so Newcastle Emlyn Library is a great example of how self-service libraries can work smoothly and benefit more rural communities.
Following the successful LibCabinet pilot, Carmarthenshire Libraries are reviewing the makeup of its other libraries to see which areas could benefit from an automated library service. This would provide a great way of extending the hours of existing libraries and freeing up staff time to increase the reach of library services and engage with more local residents.
The Hublet self-service tablets have now been rolled out to thirteen libraries in Carmarthenshire with very positive results.
Want to learn more about Hublet? Find out more.