THE National Library of Wales contains many of our nation's treasures. Since last December I have had the honour of serving as its President and come to appreciate its remarkable collection.
When one thinks of a library one usually thinks of books. The National Library, as a legal deposit (copyright) library has a right to receive a copy of everything published - books, periodicals and newspapers-throughout these islands.
The Library also contains many valuable manuscripts. It looks after parish records and details of marriages - vital information for tracing family history. The Library has contemporary archive material-such as the National Screen & Sound Archive of Wales. The collection of photographs of the late Geoff Charles has over 120,000 pictures. Both are important in reflecting Wales in the 20th century.
The National Library also safeguards paintings of relevance to Wales, such as those donated by the late Sir Kyffin Williams. The National Library's own gallery in Aberystwyth, Oriel Gregynog, could serve as a key location in any national network of galleries aimed at making art more accessible throughout Wales.
The marketing drive undertaken by Andrew Green, the Librarian, and his outstanding team, has seen the number of visitors to the National Library increase, following the opening of the new visitors centre, from 35,000 in 2001/2 to over 90,000 in 2006/7. These numbers have been boosted by school parties eager to learn about Wales in general and their own communities in particular. In 2007/8, over 500 groups of all kinds came to the Library.
A revolutionary change for the National Library, in recent years has been the development of digital information. …