National Library of Wales

National Library of Wales
Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru
The National Library of Wales
WNLW 08.jpg
The National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth
Type National Library
Established 1907
Reference to legal mandate Established by Royal Charter on the 19th of March 1907. Supplemental Charters were given to the Library in 1911, 1978 and 2006
Location Aberystwyth
Coordinates 52°24′52″N 4°4′8″W / 52.41444°N 4.06889°W / 52.41444; -4.06889Coordinates: 52°24′52″N 4°4′8″W / 52.41444°N 4.06889°W / 52.41444; -4.06889
Items collected Printed Works, Maps, Archives, Manuscripts, Audio Visual Material, Photographs, Paintings
Size 5M Books, 1M Maps, 800,000 Photographs, 50,000 Works of Art
Criteria for collection Acquisition through purchase, bequest and legal deposit
Legal deposit Yes
Access and use
Access requirements Library open to all. Access to reading rooms restricted to over 16s without prior permission.
Other information
Director Mr Andrew M. Green
Staff around 350 FTE
Phone number +44 1970 632800

The National Library of Wales (Welsh: Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru), Aberystwyth, is the national legal deposit library of Wales; one of the Welsh Government sponsored bodies.

Welsh is its main medium of communication. However, it aims to deliver all public services in Welsh and English.[1]


History and buildings

National Library of Wales

In 1873, a committee was set up to collect Welsh material and house it at the University College, Aberystwyth. In 1905, the government promised money in its Budget, and the Privy Council appointed a committee to decide on the location of the two institutions. Aberystwyth was selected as the location of the library after a bitter fight with Cardiff, partly because a collection was already available in the College. Sir John Williams, physician and book collector, had also said he would present his collection to the Library if it were established in Aberystwyth; he also eventually gave £20,000 to build and establish the library. Cardiff was eventually selected as the location of the National Museum of Wales. The Library and Museum were established by Royal Charter on 19 March 1907.[2]

Designed by architect Sidney Greenslade who won the competition to design the building in 1909, the building at Grogythan,[3] off Penglais Hill, was first occupied in 1916. The central block, or corps de logis, was added by Charles Holden to a modified version of Greenslade's design. In 1996, a large, new storage building was opened, and in recent years many changes have been made to the front part of the building. A new Royal Charter was granted in 2006.


  • John Ballinger (1909–1930)
  • William Llewelyn Davies (1930–1952)
  • Thomas Parry (1953–1958)
  • E. D. Jones (1958–1969)
  • David Jenkins (1969–1979)
  • R. Geraint Gruffydd (1980–1985)
  • Brynley F. Roberts (1985–1998)
  • Andrew M. Green (1998–present)

Library collections

The building houses over 4 million printed volumes, including many rare books such as the first book printed in Welsh (Yn y lhyvyr hwnn, 1546)[4] and the first Welsh translation of the complete Bible[5] (1588). It also keeps many rare and important manuscripts including the Black Book of Carmarthen[6] (the earliest surviving manuscript entirely in Welsh), the Book of Taliesin,[7] and a manuscript of the works of Geoffrey Chaucer.[8] As a copyright depository, it is entitled to receive a copy of every published work from the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland. Its collecting policy is focused on Wales, Welsh-language and Celtic material.

The Library also contains the Welsh Political Archive[9] and National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales.[10] It also keeps maps,[11] photographs,[12] paintings, topographical and landscape prints,[13] periodicals and newspapers.[14] It also holds the largest collection of archival material in Wales.

In 2000, Peter Bellwood stole at least fifty antique maps from the library, which were sold to private collectors for £70,000. Arrested in 2004, he was jailed for four and a half years.[15][16]


The Library has published a series of books about its history and collections, including manuscript catalogues, a bibliography of Welsh publications, Parish Registers of Wales, and academic studies of Gwen John, Kyffin Williams and others. The Library also publishes the National Library of Wales Journal.

Digital content

Many of the most important manuscripts and books have been digitized and made freely available to view on the library's website in its Digital Mirror.[17] The Library intends to have digitized much of its image, sound and print collections by 2018.[18]

Welsh Journals Online

The Library is currently digitizing the back-numbers of 50 journals relating to Wales, in Welsh and English, in the Welsh Journals Online [1] project funded by JISC. This will form the largest body of Welsh text on the Web, as well as allowing free access for all to scholarly articles on history, literature and science, and poems and book reviews. OCR of the page scans was undertaken to create TEI searchable text versions. The website will contain a total of 400,000 pages. After the project is complete, new issues of the titles will be added as they emerge from the embargo period agreed with the publisher.[19]

The fifty titles will include:[20]

  • Archaeologia Cambrensis 1846-1999
  • Yr Arloeswr ('the pioneer') 1957-1960
  • Bathafarn 1946-2003
  • Brycheiniog 1955-2006
  • Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies 1921-1993
  • Bwletin Cymdeithas Emynau Cymru ('bulletin of the Welsh hymns society') 1968-2003
  • Cambria: a Welsh geographical review 1974-1989
  • Cennad ('messenger') 1980-2001
  • Ceredigion 1951-2004
  • Y Cofiadur ('the recorder') 1923-2002
  • Contemporary Wales 1987-2001
  • Cristion ('Christian') 1983-2006
  • Y Cymmrodor 1822-1951
  • Cymru 1891-1927
  • Efrydiau athronyddol 1938-2000
  • Fflam, Y ('the flame') 1946-1952
  • Y ford gron ('the round table') 1930-1935
  • Gower 1948-2005
  • Gwent Local History, the journal of Gwent Local History Council 1977-2006
  • Y Gwyddonydd ('the scientist') 1963-1996
  • Heddiw ('today') 1936-1942
  • Journal of the Pembrokeshire Historical Society 1985-2004
  • Journal of the Welsh Bibliographical Society 1910-1984
  • Journal of Welsh ecclesiastical history 1984-1992
  • Journal of Welsh Religious History 1993-2005
  • Llafur ('labour'), the journal of the Society for the Study of Welsh Labour History 1972-2004
  • Y Llenor ('the reader') 1922-1955
  • Lleufer: cylchgrawn Cymdeithas Addysg y Gweithwyr yng Nghymru (Journal of the Workers' Educational Association in Wales) 1944-1979
  • Minerva: transactions of the Royal Institution of South Wales 1993-2003
  • Montgomeryshire collections, relating to Montgomeryshire and its borders 1868-2002
  • Morgannwg, transactions of the Glamorgan Local History Society 1957-2006
  • National Library of Wales Journal 1939-2005
  • Nature in Wales, the quarterly journal of the West Wales Field Society 1955-1987
  • Pembrokeshire historian, journal of the Pembrokeshire Local History Society 1959-1981
  • Presenting Monmouthshire, the journal of the Monmouthshire Local History Council (now Gwent Local History Council) 1956-1975
  • Proceedings of the South Wales Institute of Engineers 1857-1998
  • Radnorshire Society Transactions 1931-2004
  • Reports and Transactions, Cardiff Naturalists' Society 1867-1986
  • South Wales Record Society publications 1987-1994
  • Studia Celtica 1966-2000
  • Tir Newydd ('new land') 1935-1939
  • Y Traethodydd ('the essayist') 1845-2006
  • Transactions and archaeological record, Cardiganshire Antiquarian Society 1911-1938
  • Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion 1892-2005
  • Wales 1937-1959
  • Welsh book studies (Llyfr yng Nghymru)) 1998-2007
  • Welsh history review (Cylchgrawn hanes cymru) 1959-2001
  • Welsh music history 1996-2004
  • Welsh outlook 1914-1933

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ "About NLW". National Library of Wales. 
  3. ^ Wmffre, Iwan, 'National Library', The Place-Names of Cardiganshire, Vol. III, pp. 980-981 (BRA British Series 379 (III), 2004, ISBN 1-84171-665-0)
  4. ^ "Yny lhyvyr hwnn". National Library of Wales. 
  5. ^ "Y Beibl Cysegr Lan". National Library of Wales. 
  6. ^ "The Black Book of Carmarthen". National Library of Wales. 
  7. ^ "The book of Taliesin : digital version". National Library of Wales. 
  8. ^ "The Hengwrt Chaucer". National Library of Wales. 
  9. ^ "The Welsh Political Archive". National Library of Wales. 
  10. ^ "National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales". National Library of Wales. 
  11. ^ "The Map Collection". National Library of Wales. 
  12. ^ "The National Collection of Welsh Photographs". National Library of Wales. 
  13. ^ "The Picture Collection". National Library of Wales. 
  14. ^ "Print Material". National Library of Wales. 
  15. ^ "Man stole 50 maps from library". BBC News. 2004-10-08. 
  16. ^ "£70,000 rare map thief is jailed". BBC News. 2004-12-22. 
  17. ^ "Digital Mirror". National Library of Wales. 
  18. ^ "Wales politics Library's £20m digital project". BBC News. 2008-10-01. 
  19. ^ Welsh Journals Online
  20. ^ Journals included

External links

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