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Cuts to the National Library ‘a blow to the Welsh language’

02 Feb 2021 3 minute read
Picture of and by The National Library of Wales

Campaigners in Ceredigion have warned that cutting more jobs at the National Library would be a ‘blow to the Welsh language’.

Cymdeithas yr Iaith said that it was one of the few institutions in Wales that worked through the medium of the language, and one of the few national institutions outside the south-east of Wales.

Their intervention comes as a petition to call for fair funding for the library in Aberystwyth approaches 15,000 signatures.

Campaigners have warned that with no increased support from Welsh Government, 30 jobs are to be cut and services seriously curtailed.

Tamsin Davies from the Ceredigion branch of Cymdeithas yr Iaith said the Welsh Government was taking “deliberate decisions” to undermine the library.

She said that Deputy Minister for Culture, Dafydd Elis-Thomas MS, was guilty of “attacks, criticism and neglect” of the institution.

“I’m sorry to say that we have lost confidence in you as a Deputy Minister to do what is right for our heritage, our language and our communities,” she said.

“Unfortunately, your legacy as a Deputy Minister will be a poorer culture and heritage.

“We urge you to reconsider your intentional attacks, and, instead, increase the National Library’s grant so as to defend jobs and services for the sake of all of Wales’ cultures and heritage.”

‘Lack of support’

Last week the Welsh Government responded to the calls to protect the National Library of Wales from job losses.

According to a spokesperson for the government, it is a “matter for the Library to make decisions as to how it can operate effectively within available budgets.”

It says that it has been able to protect grant-in-aid from cuts but said that this was not possible to increase revenue support because of “unprecedented budget pressures.”

Tamsin Davies, however, said that the library was “one of the far too rare organisations in Wales that works through the medium of Welsh” and should be shielded from cuts.

“As an institution, it continues to work through Welsh, and that despite a complete lack of support and recognition from the Welsh Government for that important language impact,” she said.

“Furthermore, the Library’s status as a body that works through Welsh has been threatened as a result of your decisions as a Minister.

“You have tried to pressurise the Library to not advertise jobs as Welsh essential, despite the importance of working through Welsh to its use in everyday life. Continuing with these real terms cuts would, without a doubt, be another blow to the language in Ceredigion.

“We also regret your decision to reject an independent report’s recommendation to increase the Library’s grant. That report was commissioned by your own government.

“The National Library is also a rare example of a national institution located outside the south east of the country. It makes a vitally important economic and cultural contribution in an area where there is already a lack of jobs.”

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