Following numerous calls for support and a widely-circulated petition, the Welsh Government has announced a £2.25m rescue package to protect the National Library of Wales, as part of a wider £6.2m investment which also encompasses National Museum Wales. The library is the largest in Wales, established by Royal Charter in 1907, with over 6.5 million books and an extensive archival collection.
Public calls to save the 30 jobs at risk at the institution in Aberystwyth were echoed by library officials, with one senior source telling the BBC: “It isn’t a lack of money, it’s a lack of political will.”
The Welsh Government had come under fire for its failure to sufficiently increase its yearly grant to the library. The petition to secure “fair funding” for the institution garnered more than 14,000 signatures – with vocal supporters including bestselling author, Phillip Pullman.
£750,000 of the funding will be used to kickstart the findings of the recent Tailored Review. The library’s President, Meri Huws, welcomed the announcement, saying it would help to “address the main recommendations” of the review and “put our exciting new strategic plan in action”.
Prior to the announcement, the Welsh Government had stated that extra funding was not available, but said that it was exploring “every option” to protect jobs. The funding package includes an additional £3.95m for National Museum Wales for the current and subsequent financial year.
Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas, Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, announced the support, saying: “I am pleased to announce this funding which will safeguard and support two of our most important cultural institutions during this very challenging period.”
“We have been in continuous contact with the library and with Amgueddfa Cymru for quite some time, and are taking steps to protect jobs and to ensure the sustainability of these bodies, who are responsible for caring for our national collections on behalf of the people of Wales.”
You can read more about the importance of National Library Wales, and the fight to save it here.