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Welsh Gov responds to calls to protect National Library of Wales from job losses

25 Jan 2021 3 minutes Read
National Library of Wales. Photo by csmramsde, licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

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

A petition to save the National Library of Wales from cuts has recently passed the 10,000 signature mark. It calls on 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.

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 available budgets.”

‘Fair’

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.”

Mr Green wrote on Nation.Cymru: “Between 2008 and 2019 the Library has lost 40 per cent of its income. Already many activities have been cut back severely, and public services compromised. To put it simply, if these new cuts go through, and are followed by yet more, the Library cannot survive as a working institution.

“Anyone seriously interested in Wales and its history and culture depends on the Library for knowledge, and access to that knowledge will be harder in future. Ceredigion could lose a valued community centre, and exhibition spaces may close. Children would be deprived of the Library’s excellent educational services.”

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