National Library of Wales’ finances need ‘urgent attention’

National Library of Wales

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Up to 30 jobs could go at the library if the the review is ignored, the national librarian warns

The finances of The National Library of Wales need “urgent attention”, an independent review has found.

The Welsh Government-commissioned review concluded the library faced a threat to its financial viability.

Up to 30 jobs could be lost if the review was ignored, the head of the library in Aberystwyth warned.

Deputy minister Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas said “both parties will work together to ensure the library remains robust and fit for purpose”.

Short-term funding

The independent panel examined the library’s activities and its management before the coronavirus pandemic.

The report said the library’s income had declined in real terms by 40% between 2008 and 2019. It had also cut its staffing by 23% in that time.

The library was operating with an income of £9.6m in 2018/19 but faced substantial future costs associated with building maintenance and IT infrastructure as well as a growing pension deficit, the review found.

Its authors said the library often had just 12 months of funding confirmed by the Welsh Government at a time.

The short-term nature of funding had hampered improvement efforts, they added, including “ensuring the relevance of its services in a digital age”, and recommended providing greater funding certainty.

It also criticised some of the governance of its board of trustees and called for better training and greater diversity among its members.

Chief executive and national librarian Pedr ap Llwyd said tens of job losses could have a “devastating” effect on the library and the local community.

‘Systemic historic underfunding’

“Without doubt, the library’s current financial position is the result of systematic historic underfunding by Welsh Government, and the tailored review sees the current unsustainable position the library finds itself in as a real threat to the future of the organisation,” he added.

Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism Lord Elis-Thomas added: “I welcome the independent views of the review panel and look forward to positive and collaborative working as we address its recommendations.

“This is an important cultural organisation which must have longevity and relevance for the whole of Wales.”

BBC News