My experience volunteering at the South Wales Miners Library so far…

Tucked away in the far reaches of the Hendrefoelan Student Village lies the South Wales Miner’s Library, by far underrated and overlooked by the many occupants of both the Village and Swansea University. I myself can be accused of ignorance when it comes to knowing the existence of this quaint hidden gem. The Miners Library offers a tranquil and peaceful working environment, with warm and welcoming staff always on hand to help you find a certain book or answer any queries you may have.

However, ignorance does not diminish the activity that occurs here, as the library hosts all kinds of enterprise, from modern language classes to other specialty courses (and even being used as a filming location by Sky Arts!), receiving a constant hive of attention, despite being off the main campus location.

img_20161128_114806789Being passionate about literature and a lover of all things History, I am in my element here and I have been able to experience life on the other side of the issue desk – something I used to only dream about! – learning and developing skills typical of a Librarian (as well as drinking lots of tea!). I think many people (including myself) underestimate all the hard work and effort our librarians do, and my time here has taught me to appreciate the work they put in and the niche organisation that is required in a library, as well as providing an escape from the busyness of university life.

Volunteering here, as a native Englishwoman, has also given me an insight into aspects of Welsh history I never really contemplated. Something I have been working on img_20161128_114753436includes organizing donations and archives in the SWML collections, managing material such as pamphlets, newspaper clippings, posters and leaflets associated with Co-op Societies in South Wales. It was especially interesting to see guides and rule books which dictated how members should act and directing how employees should be treated; in particular, what was required of a woman in the role of secretary!

Another part of the library I got to experience in my first semester here was a locked room, out of sight from the usual visitor. This room plays host to a wealth of literature, documents, posters and archived material, posters from old exhibitions and even old Halls of Residence signs from Clyne Gardens, where one of my friends parents used to live when she was at Swansea University! There was one room which housed thousands of antique books from Miner’s Institutions and private collections, and as soon as you opened the door the smell of aged paper hit you like a tidal wave. Such an extensive collection give you an insight into what topics and subjects interested the workers, and the majority of books were of a historical, political, or religious nature. I was able to gain an understanding of the importance of archiving for the storage and maintenance of books and old manuscripts, which is paramount to special collections such as these. It’s a shame all this material is hidden away and tucked out of sight because there isn’t enough space on the shelves – I could have stayed in there all day!

Thankfully, I am able to return to the library for the current semester to continue to wonder at the extensive materials stored here, and build upon my skills as a librarian. img_20161128_114850264_hdr

by Silke Davison, 3rd Year Classics student.

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5 thoughts on “My experience volunteering at the South Wales Miners Library so far…

  1. Patrick Driscall says:

    Hi Silke and the Miners Library,

    I recently set up Swansea News Network, http://swanseanewsnetwork.org/. Swansea News Network is a not for profit, community journalism start-up project that enables people to empower their communities by sharing positive news and progressive stories.

    I wondered if you would be interested to write a piece about the Miner’s Library or volunteering there for the Swansea News Network website. It would be widely shared via the Facebook of the same name.

    Do get in touch if interested. I would add you as an author and you can post direct with me publishing it as the editor. How does that sound? Please do check with the Library manager for permission.

    Patrick Driscall

    • Hi Patrick,

      Thank you for your consideration. I would be very pleased to write a piece for you on your website about the Miner’s Library. What sort of article are you looking for? When would you like it by?
      I volunteer on a weekly basis but would be happy to work on it outside the set times I am used to. What would be the best way to get in touch with you about it?

      Regards,
      Silke

      • Patrick Driscall says:

        Sorry if this has shown up already but wanted to make sure the comment was posted.

        Hi Silke. I think an article highlighting the value of the Miners Library locally and internationally with illustrations of how the archive has been used would be great. Add in some information about your volunteering experience/or quotes from users/workers and how local people can access and use the resources. Also some info on future plans ahead for the library? Word count about 1200 max. You may want to break it into 2 articles of 600 words each if preferred which would be published with a gap of time in between. It would need some attributable photos with credits and captions to accompany the text.

        For me to add you as an author so you can publish on the website, please kindly share your email details, please. This would be the email address you would work from to do the article and get it posted for me to check before publishing.

        To chat about the idea etc my email is pdriscall@mac.com and mb. 07799 517 067.

        I work full time as a gardener so do this in my spare time at present. Evenings are probably the best time to contact me, though you are welcome to contact me in the daytime too.

        So pleased you are happy to consider writing an article.

        Best wishes

        Patrick Driscall

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