The Society for the Study of Labour History is adding its voice to calls for “fair funding” for the National Library of Wales.
The move comes as the Library, which is home to many of the historic, artistic and intellectual treasures of Wales, and to important labour history collections, faces budget cuts which threaten 30 jobs, in addition to 100 already lost over the past decade, and the permanent closure of one of its two reading rooms.
Former National Librarian of Wales Andrew Green has warned that if the staff and budget cuts go ahead, the library “cannot survive as a working institution”. He added: “This would leave just 200 people in post, which is a number nowhere near enough to keep essential services running. Already many activities have been cut back severely and public services compromised.”
A petition urging the Welsh Government to increase financial support has already collected nearly 14,000 signatures at the time of writing – far more than the 10,000 required for the Senedd Cymru petitions committee to consider the issue for debate in the Senedd.
SSLH Chair Dr Joan Allen said that the Society stood with Llafur, the Welsh People’s History Society, in backing the petition’s call for fair funding.
She said: “The National Library of Wales houses many important labour history collections. It would be a tragedy if these were to be broken up, or made inaccessible to historians and to the people of Wales. The Welsh Government should think again. As the petition points out, libraries cannot be expected to generate their own income in the same way as businesses.”
Among the labour history collections in the Welsh political archive of the National Library of Wales are the records of the Welsh Labour Party, the Wales TUC and those of prominent individuals, including Viscount Tonypandy, Rhodri Morgan, Ann Clwyd, Peter Hain and Ted Rowlands.
Prospect, the union representing library staff, is calling for an emergency injection of cash to help the library weather the next few months and ensure that no staff are made compulsorily redundant in the midst of a pandemic. It says this should be followed by a longer-term reassessment of the library’s funding to enable it to secure its long term future.”
Update: 3 February 2021. The Welsh Government has announced an additional £2.25m for the library to safeguard jobs and implement aspects of an earlier review. The announcement was welcomed by the NLW branch of the Public and Commercial Services Union, which tweeted: ‘’Looks like the campaign to stop the cuts at the National Library of Wales has been successful! Thanks to everyone who has supported the campaign!“ Read more.