Higher Education Postcard: College of Librarianship Wales

This week’s card from Hugh Jones’ postbag shows a world-leading institution you may never have heard of

Hugh Jones is a freelance HE consultant. You’ll find a daily #HigherEducationPostcard if you follow him on Twitter.

Cyfarchion o Geredigion! (Greetings from Ceredigion)

This is the College of Librarianship Wales/Coleg Llyfregellwyr Cymru, in Llanbadarn Fawr.

This is, as the card says, near Aberystwyth – so close that if Aberystwyth could be said to have a greater metropolitan area, Llanbadarn Fawr would be it.

The college existed for only 25 years, between 1964 and 1989. But in that time it made its mark on the world.

Let’s go back to 1957. In that year, a committee to review the structure of the Public Library Service in England and Wales, as set out in a White Paper on local government, was established by Viscount Hailsham, Minister for Education. Its report, published in 1959, noted that there was a need for bi-lingual communities to have staff “acquainted with the Welsh language and well versed in the history and literature of Wales.”

This was said again in 1962 in a subsequent parliamentary report, and, having been said twice, gained a certain momentum.

The Welsh Joint Education Committee, supported by the then Cardiganshire County Council, took action, and identified Plas Bronpadarn, a mansion-turned-former-nursing-school in LLanbadarn Fawr, as the base for a new college.

A principal, Frank Hogg, was appointed in 1964. He recognised that a small college would not survive, so set about making the college attractive to students from across the UK and the world – well beyond its Welsh remit.

Initial enrolments of 12 postgraduate students (studying for a postgraduate diploma awarded by the University of Wales and overseen by Aberystwyth) soon grew, to over 400 students in 1968, studying for postgraduate diplomas.

Undergraduate degrees followed – a joint honours in librarianship with Aberystwyth, which was the first such in the UK. And a Master’s in Librarianship and, in due course, the registration of students for PhD degrees, under the University of Wales.

The college had a big impact, attracting students and teachers globally. Its graduates included the national librarians of Malaysia, Malawi, Kenya and Nepal, as well as academics in the field at universities across the world.

But small institutions struggle. And whereas federal university structures can facilitate the academic framework for a specialist college, money is a different matter. In 1989, as many small and specialist colleges in health, education and agriculture across the UK were being rolled-up into universities, so did the College of Librarianship Wales, which became the Department of Information and Library Studies at Aberystwyth.

And thus ends our brief story. The campus is now used by Coleg Ceredigion.

A big thanks to Jo Webb for pointing me at this splendid institution. And errors are mine!

One response to “Higher Education Postcard: College of Librarianship Wales

  1. Ah CLW! What a wonderful place to study – and I have a B.Lib degree and great memories as a result. There surely can’t have been many other campuses shared by Librarians, Farmers and FE students.

Leave a Reply