Gladstone's Library, Hawarden

By Rhian Waller - Gladstone's Library PR and marketing

A year in the life...

Roughly a year ago, Gladstone's Library was slowly coming back to life. After 18 months of dormancy, where the only footsteps heard in the large, neo-Gothic building were those of a tiny handful of staff, a new cohort of people started working behind the scenes for the reopening in September 2021.

As many of the staff employed at the Library had moved on to new positions in that year-and-a-half, this was the start of building a team almost entirely from scratch.

In July last year, Gladstone's Library found itself a new maintenance officer, an archivist, recruited a librarian (both specialist roles) and advertised for the entirely new roles of the Reading Room assistants.

Very soon, they would be joined by new reception staff, kitchen staff and housekeeping staff, who would work shoulder-to-shoulder with returning employees.

A year later, it's sometimes hard to imagine that the people on reception, who always say 'good morning!' as soon as you walk through the door, or the staff in Food for Thought, who know if their colleagues prefer butter or margarine when they order their lunchtime toasted teacake, were ever strangers.

We've seen four seasons come and go; we've witnessed winter sleet falling across the statue of William Ewart Gladstone and summer sun baking the back garden. We've had our Christmas closure (the only time of year the Library is shut for business) and we've greeted springtime travellers.

We have held literary festivals and had our Founder's Day celebration, said farewell to stalwarts who have retired after working at the Library for decades, and welcomed new staff on board.

The Reading Rooms haven't changed much visibly, although sharp-eyed visitors noticed a slight reshuffle of the comfy chairs in the History Room, but a year of hard work behind the scenes means that they are run ever more efficiently.

We have also seen the addition and lifting of Covid restrictions in Wales, and changes in the way our visitors interact, and what they want from the Library. Although Gladstone's Library trades on its history, time always brings changes of some kind.

It's good to know, whatever happens, there will be a good team to face whatever the next year brings…