National Library of Wales

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WalesGotoarrow.pngNational Library

The National Library of Wales or Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru is the national legal depository library of Wales and is located in Aberystwyth, Ceredigion.

The library has a reputation for being one of the world's greatest libraries. As a copyright depository, it is entitled to receive a copy of every published work from the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland. However, its collecting policy is focused on Wales, Welsh-language and Celtic material.

It also holds the largest collection of archival material in Wales.

National Library of Wales.jpg

History[edit | edit source]

In 1873 a committee was set up to collect and house historic Welsh material. Following a bitter dispute between the universities at Cardiff and Aberystwyth, it was decided that the National Museum of Wales would be built in Cardiff and the National Library of Wales would be built in Aberystwyth. Both were established on 19 March 1907.

One of the supporters of the Aberystwyth campaign was Sir John Williams, physician and book collector, who presented his collection to the Library and also donated £20,000 to build and establish the library.

The building was designed by architect Sidney Greenslade who won the competition to design the building in 1909. The building, at Grogythan, off Penglais Hill, was first occupied in 1916. The central block 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.

Librarians[edit | edit source]

  • 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 Green (1998–present)

Collections[edit | edit source]

The building houses over four million printed volumes, including many rare books such as

  • Yn y lhyvyr hwnn ("Yn y llyfr hwn" or "In this book"), the first book printed in Welsh in 1546
  • The first Welsh translation of the complete Bible by William Morgan in 1588

It also keeps many rare and important manuscripts including

  • Llyfr Du Caerfyrddin ("Black Book of Carmarthen"), the earliest surviving manuscript entirely in Welsh from around 1250
  • Llyfr Taliesin ("Book of Taliesin") containing a collection of some of the oldest poems in Welsh, many attributed to the poet Taliesin from the end of the sixth century
  • Llyfr Gwyn Rhydderch ("White Book of Rhydderch"), one of the most notable and celebrated manuscripts in Wales containing the earliest compendium of Welsh prose and early Welsh poetry.

Important collections of particular use to genealogists include:

Digital Projects[edit | edit source]

Many of the most important manuscripts and books have been digitised and made freely available to view on the library's Digital Gallery.

Welsh Journals Online project. The National Library of Wales undertook the work of digitising and making the journals available online with the support of Welsh Government, JISC, Europeana, WHELF and the cooperation of publishers and authors. A team of bibliographic and academic specialists were also key to the work. While the majority of the journals content is available to users, users should note that some pages or parts of pages are unavailable due to copyright restrictions. About the Welsh Journals Online collection.

Visiting the Library[edit | edit source]

A helpful guide to the National Library of Wales, Department of Manuscripts and Records is:

  • Guide to the Department of Manuscripts and Records: The National Library of Wales. Aberystwyth, Wales: National Library of Wales, 1996. (Family History Library book 942.9 A3g;)

All record repositories in Wales have heavy public use. You should check the library's Visit menu in advance to find out hours, services, and fees. You must have a Reader’s Ticket to use the collection and you can register on-line.

You can contact the library at:

National Library of Wales
Reader Services,
SY23 3BU
Telephone: +44 (0)1970 632933
Fax: +44 (0)1970 632551

External links[edit | edit source]