Wed, 17 Nov 10 17:01:00
The National Library of Wales is set to lose one million pounds following the Welsh Assembly Government’s recent budget announcement.
The Library receives most of its funding directly from the Assembly Government. It will lose a significant part of its grant over the next three years as a result of reductions in the Assembly’s budget: 4.2% from its main revenue fund (11.7% including inflation) and 38% from its capital fund. Even harder hit will be its purchasing grant, which will take a cut of 50% from April 2011.
The purchasing grant has stood at £611,000 for the past ten years (and has already lost 20% of its true value during that time). Following the 50% reduction, of the £305,000 now remaining some £200,000 will be allocated to ongoing subscriptions to print and online publications, leaving an annual budget of a little over £100,000.
“The purchasing grant is used mainly to buy items and collections of real value to researchers and learners. The Library will now be less able to purchase many books, archives, photographs and paintings as they become available. As a result, many items of national significance and importance will be lost to the nation,” according to the Librarian, Andrew Green.
The 38% drop in capital funds will have a serious effect on the Library. It will be able to acquire less of the equipment needed to sustain the expanding digital collections and information services so important to its remote users (over 1.6m different people every year), and maintaining and developing the iconic building, one of the largest in Wales, will become more and more difficult.
“The Library has made thorough and systematic preparations for reduced revenue spending. It has scrutinised all its expenditure, reduced energy and other costs, improved processing efficiency and encouraged staff flexibility. We have also made big efforts to fundraise and to increase income,” said Mr Green.
The National Library’s President, Dafydd Wigley, summarised the Library view, offering a positive, yet sober, message
“Although we have lost staff numbers and expertise we are confident that the Library can sustain essential services to our readers and visitors in the coming year. Through smarter, more economical and more adaptable working methods we aim to avoid passing on the pain to our customers – for a time,” he said.
- Ends -
Notes to the Editor:
The National Library of Wales is a unique and vital institution for everyone in the country it serves. It protects and nurtures Wales’s common documentary heritage, and it stimulates all kinds of learning and research. It is at once a major research library, the country’s national archive, our main screen and sound collection, a gallery and a major collection of art and photography, and our biggest store of digital knowledge. All this is freely available to all, adults and children, regardless of means.
Unlike most other public bodies the Library is used to making do with less. It is four years since it received an increase above the level of inflation. Last year it was forced to close its building in Aberystwyth on Saturdays for twelve months when confronted with a sudden decrease in income.
Compounded cuts over the following three years will inevitably reduce the quality of information and cultural services to our users. The Library’s Board has already reviewed a series of possible radical options, all of which would be very damaging. Further deep cuts would hamper essential new developments, like the ability to take advantage of a new legal right to collect the electronic publications of Wales and the UK. And worst of all, they will endanger our ability to preserve and enrich the treasures we hold in trust for the people of Wales.
The National Library is a long-term institution, and will survive. It will depend, however, on continued support – most crucially from Government, without which it could not function, but also with financial and other help from individuals, trusts, companies and others. We are grateful to all those who give their assistance to our activities already, and invite everyone of goodwill, whether government, people or organisations, to give practical support in the difficult years ahead to one of Wales’s most valuable and distinctive institutions.
Examples of past items of national significance bought with funds from the Purchasing Grant are:
· Dylan Thomas manuscripts
· An early self-portrait by Kyffin Williams,
· A collection of manuscripts by and about Augustus John
Press Office: 01970 632 534 / 902 firstname.lastname@example.org