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Plaid Cymru blasts Welsh Gov over National Library of Wales cuts

26 Jan 2021 4 minutes Read
National Library of Wales. Photo by csmramsde, licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Plaid Cymru has blasted the Welsh Government for cutting the budget of the National Library of Wales.

The party’s Shadow Minister for Culture Sian Gwenllian MS has called on the Welsh Government to set aside proper funding to safeguard the Library and accused it of ignoring its “financial concerns.”

She has reiterated calls from an online Senedd petition which has gathered more than 10,000 signatures, which asks the Welsh Government to provide “fair funding” to “one of the world’s great libraries”, and says it is a “repository of the historic, artistic and intellectual treasures of Wales.”

The Library, based in Aberystwyth, is currently in consultation with its remaining employees about losing a further thirty members of staff, which is in addition to the roughly 100 posts that have been lost since 2010.

This would leave just 200 people in post, which is a number nowhere near enough to keep essential services running, according to its former librarian, Andrew Green.

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

‘Ignored’ 

Plaid Cymru Shadow Minister for Culture, Sian Gwenllian MS said: “The Welsh Government has ignored the financial concerns of the National Library of Wales which is clearly reflected in the lack of funding set aside for the Library in the latest budget.

“The Deputy Minister for Culture has failed to accept recommendations to increase funding made by the Tailored Review of the National Library.

“On behalf of Plaid Cymru, I have challenged the Government to provide adequate support to the Library on three separate occasions in the Senedd during November and December, but to no avail.

“The National Library has already restructured in recent years and lost 90 staff. It now faces the prospect of losing 30 further members of staff, which would threaten the highly important work the Library carries out.

“The Library is a fundamental part of the cultural, educational and historic life of Wales and the Welsh Government must urgently set aside proper funding in order to safeguard it.”

‘Considered’ 

A Welsh Government Spokesperson said: “This petition will now be considered by the Petitions Committee for a debate in the Senedd and will have full consideration and a formal response. This is the usual process for Senedd consideration under its standing orders.

“We know this is a very difficult period for the culture and heritage sector and talk of any job losses is a real concern.

“We have been able to protect the Library’s grant-in-aid from any reductions but due to unprecedented budget pressures it has not been possible to increase revenue support.

“It is a matter for the Library to make decisions as to how it can operate effectively within.”

The petition says: “We call for fair funding by the Welsh Government to the National Library of Wales, one of the world’s great libraries, a repository of the historic, artistic and intellectual treasures of Wales.

“With no increased support from Welsh Government, 30 jobs are to be cut and services seriously curtailed.

“Freedom, prosperity and the development of society and individuals are fundamental human values, attained by well-informed citizens with unlimited access to thought, culture and information.

“To ensure that the National Library of Wales continues with delivering comprehensive services to all, we ask the Welsh Government to increase its financial support, ensuring that it remains a gateway to knowledge, providing lifelong learning.

“Libraries cannot be expected to generate their own income in the same way as businesses.”

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