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.

Other important collections particularly of 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 Mirror. The Library intends to digitise much of its image, sound and print collections over the ten years from 2008. This is funded by £20 million donation from the Welsh Government.

The Library is currently digitising the back-numbers of fifty important journals relating to Wales, in both Welsh and English, in the Welsh Journals On-line project. 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. 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.

The fifty titles will include:

  • Archaeologia Cambrensis 1846-1999
  • Yr Arloeswr (The Pioneer) 1957-1960
  • Barddas (Bardism) 1976-2007
  • Bathafarn 1946-2003
  • Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies 1921-1993
  • Bwletin Cymdeithas Emynau Cymru (Bulletin of the Welsh Hymns Society) 1968-2003
  • Cambria magazine, a Welsh geographical review 1974-1989
  • Cambrian Law Review 1970-2006
  • Cennad (Messenger) 1980-2001
  • Ceredigion magazine 1951-2004
  • Y Cofiadur (The Recorder) 1923-2002
  • Contemporary Wales 1987-2001
  • Cristion (Christian) 1983-2006
  • Y Cymmrodor 1822-1951
  • Cymru magazine 1891-1927
  • Efrydiau Athronyddol 1938-2000
  • Y Fflam (The Flame) 1946-1952
  • Y Ford Gron (The Round Table) 1930-1935
  • Gower magazine 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
  • Llyfr yng Nghymru, Welsh book studies 1998-2007
  • Minerva, the transactions of the Royal Institution of South Wales1993-2003
  • Montgomeryshire collections, relating to Montgomeryshire and its borders 1868-2002
  • Morgannwg, the 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, the journal of the Pembrokeshire Local History Society 1959-1981
  • Presenting Monmouthshire, the journal of the Monmouthshire 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 Records, Cardiganshire Antiquarian Society 1911-1938
  • Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion 1892-2005
  • Wales magazine 1937-1959
  • Welsh History Review - Cylchgrawn Hanes Cymru 1939-2001
  • Welsh Music History 1996-2004
  • Welsh Outlook 1914-1933

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 visitor's page 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]