Banwen Library, located in the DOVE Workshop, belongs to Swansea University and is proud to be a community library that supports learning and offers resources for all. While it is a valuable service for many users, its location away from the other University campuses means that it is occasionally overlooked by those that could benefit from its services. This blog provides more information about Banwen Library , as well as our history with the DOVE Workshop, in which it is based.
The DOVE Workshop was the result of a concerted effort by a cross-section of women in the South Wales coalfields to ensure that the end of the 1984-85 strike did not mean and end to the mining communities themselves. The author of Up the Dove! Mair Francis – herself a key figure in its inception – describes the key aims and purpose of the DOVE workshop in her book:
“It was necessary to equip the women with the appropriate skills for the work force, to become multi-skilled and to widen the cultural, economic and social horizons by developing a holistic approach to education and training. This would include the implementation of equal opportunities measures, including crucially improved child care provision, family friendly work practices, home-based working opportunities, career breaks and opportunities for women to take up (or return to) education and training courses”.
With such aims in mind, the DOVE (Dulais Opportunities for Voluntary Enterprise) was born and, by establishing links across educational, civic and social networks, became a success. In September 1987, Glenys Kinnock opened the official DOVE premises in Banwen. A few years later, the Community University of the Valleys (CUV) project was launched, which aimed to deliver part-time degree programmes entirely within valleys communities. The CUV at Banwen was run by Swansea University’s Department of Adult & Continuing Education (DACE) and – as the South Wales Miners’ Library was the designated DACE Library – it was decided to send members of staff from SWML to Banwen to provide a Library service.
The DOVE Workshop has continued to grow over the years, introducing new and relevant courses as times have changed, and the Library has changed with it. The individual study spaces, computers and printers, located within a peaceful studying environment, offer an ideal space for revision, work and advice.Every Wednesday, between 9.00am – 3.00pm, Mandy from SWML is present in the Banwen Library to assist with book borrowing, account enquiries and general library advice. Having worked at Banwen for over twenty years, Mandy is a familiar face to its users and the other DOVE staff. Our new Librarian, Karen Dewick, can also be contacted for individual appointments at Banwen concerning relevant library issues.
The importance of community-led projects and lifelong learning in the wake of the current political climate cannot be understated and Banwen Library supports this ethos by bringing resources and services directly in to the community. The LibraryPlus service at Swansea University allows locals students to use the Library for book collection, making their lives easier and aligning with the original aims of DOVE.
For more information about the DOVE Workshop, visit their website. Also, read Lesley Smith’s article in The Guardian about the role that the workshop plays in advising the community about practical and financial issues.