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The National Library of Wales

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The National Library of Wales




The National Library of Wales (Welsh: Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru) is the national legal deposit library of Wales, located in Aberystwyth. A BBC article suggests the library is "considered to be one of the world's greatest libraries, and its international reputation is certainly something that all Welsh men and women are intensely ... proud of".

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.

Designed by architect Sidney Greenslade who won the competition to design the building in 1909, the building on Penglais Hill was first occupied in 1916. 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.

The building houses over 4 million printed volumes, the library includes many rare books including the first book printed in Welsh in 1546 (Yny lhyvyr hwnn) and the first Welsh translation of the complete Bible in 1588. It also keeps many rare and important manuscripts including The Black Book of Carmarthen (the earliest surviving manuscript entirely in Welsh), the Book of Taliesin, and a manuscript of the works of Geoffrey Chaucer. As a copyright depository, it is entitled to receive a copy of every published work from the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland.

The Library also contains The Welsh Political Archive and The National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales. It also keeps maps, photographs, paintings, topographical and landscape prints, periodicals and newspapers. Many of the most important manuscripts and books have been digitized and made freely available to view on the library's website.

In 2000, a thief stole at least fifty extremely rare maps from the library. The maps are assumed to have been sold to private collectors.


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