Gladstone's Library, Hawarden

By Rhian Waller - Gladstone's Library PR and marketing

If you pop into any council-funded public library (including those in Flintshire run by Aura Wales, and Wrexham Borough Council's portfolio of libraries, with whom we enjoy a cordial relationship), or community hubs like Storyhouse in Chester and Caffi Isa in Buckley, you will notice racks of newly published books.

Libraries have always kept up with the times, and though Gladstone's Library, which is an independent charity, is somewhat different, we do that here, too.

The emphasis at Gladstone's Library is on preserving the collections, including books and archival items that date back more than a century (sometimes centuries). The Library does not hold banks of publicly accessible computers and it does not have displays of recent bestsellers, but inside the historic, Grade I listed building, and in the offices around the Reading Rooms, the Library team constantly engages with modern practice.

I have already written about the extensive digitisation project, which saw a dedicated team of volunteers and Reading Room team members catalogue, scan and make thousands of letters and other items available online. Alongside these Trust and Foundation funded projects, staff at the Library, like all organisations, make use of multiple channels to communicate with and expand our community.

My role is part of that. It includes live streaming events, responding to Tripadvisor reviews, keeping the Library's details on Google and Bing up to date, managing the Library's social media, and more. Because different parts of the Library operate according to different schedules (the Reading Rooms are open to registered Readers and residential guests from 9am-10pm, but the on-site restaurant is open to drop-in diners from 10am-5pm), this is more complicated than it sounds. Google's tendency to revert to old opening times is a small but persistent thorn in my side.

This preamble is, in a very roundabout way, just an excuse for me to celebrate. The other week, the Library's Facebook page hit 20,000 followers. This might not seem significant in the grand scheme of things, but it's a little moment of triumph for the small team that looks after our social media.

We highlight gems from our collections, share photographs of the beautiful neo-Gothic building and chat with people from all over the world.

As a charity, Gladstone's Library does not have the kind of advertising budget a hotel chain or major city centre institution might have, and as it is tucked down a lane in a small but beautiful village, it is a little way off the beaten path. Our social media, then, is a vital window to the world. The more people who know about us and our services, the better - and I hope our TikTok takes off and our Facebook flourishes.

To follow us online, just search 'Gladstone's Library' to find us. I'd be happy to connect with you!