Posted - 04-02-2016 No Comments

ArAgor / Collections / News and Events

A year as Wikipedian in Residence at the National Library of Wales

Hundreds of new articles created, thousands of images shared and millions of hits on Wikipedia

It’s been a year now since I began my journey into the world of Wikipedia. My brief was simple enough  – get people editing, engage the community and embed an open access ethos at the National Library of Wales.


With 18 billion page views a month it seems that Wikipedia is most peoples’ one stop shop for information of any kind, and across the world top cultural institutions have been teaming up with the giant encyclopaedia in order to share their knowledge and their growing digital collections. The Nations Library’s goal is to provide knowledge for all, and Wikipedia is just one avenue being used to share that knowledge.


Making Wikipedia better

Wikipedia has not been without its critics, and its policy of inviting anyone and everyone to contribute means that some articles have certain shortcomings. To help remedy this and to better represent Wales on Wikipedia, a number of community events, or ‘Edit-a-thons’, have been organised to train new Wikipedia editors on a number of subjects from Medieval Law to the Rugby World Cup.


Over 100 people have volunteered to have a go at editing during organised events, and Wikipedia’s introduction of the new ‘Visual Editor’ has made contributing even easier.

A volunteer improving Wikipedia articles relating to WWI at a Public Edit-a-thon event

A volunteer improving Wikipedia articles relating to WWI at a Public Edit-a-thon event

Staff and members of the Library’s enthusiastic volunteer team have also been busy working on Wikipedia related projects, and with 6.5 million printed books in the Library vaults there is no shortage of information to be added.


Through the course of the year it has also become apparent that Edit-a-thons act as a gateway for community engagement. They help engage the public with the library, its collections and with Welsh heritage in a flexible, inspiring and subtle way.



The Library began digitising its collections nearly 20 years ago and has now amassed hundreds of thousands of digital items representing all aspects of Wales cultural heritage. More recently a major shift in policy meant that they no longer lay claim to copyright of digital images, if copyright in the original works has expired.


This open access policy has led the library to start sharing parts of its digital collections on Flickr, and social media. During the residency the library have taken the next step towards openness by sharing nearly 8000 images with Wikipedia’s sister project Wikimedia Commons, where they are freely available to all without any restrictions.


Already, National Library of Wales images have been added to over a thousand Wikipedia articles in more the 70 languages and since those images were added, these articles have been viewed nearly 33 million times, highlighting the incredible exposure Wikipedia can facilitate.

Statistics highlighting the impact of sharing images via Wikimedia Commons

Statistics highlighting the impact of sharing images via Wikimedia Commons


Improving content and sharing collections are both crucial aspects of the residency but it is equally important that the benefits of activities are clearly recorded and shared with others.


Demonstrating impact certainly made it easier for the Library to extend the residency, and one of the library’s major partners, People’s Collection Wales have taken big steps toward open access and a sustainable relationship with Wikipedia.


One of the first things I did as a Wikipedian was to delve into the world of Twitter as a way of networking and sharing news about the residency, and this has led to great exposure both for the Library and for Wikipedia in Wales. Community events and digital content shared with Wikimedia Commons has caught the eye of news agencies, magazines and bloggers alike.

Infographic highlighting advocacy work during the first year of the residency

Infographic highlighting advocacy work during the first year of the residency


What next?

Together the Library and Wikimedia UK were able to extend the residency beyond the initial 12 months and the post is now funded until August 30th 2016.

Work on improving Wikipedia content will continue in English and in Welsh and thousand more images will be made available via Wiki Commons.

Images from the National Library of Wales in Wikimedia Commons. (left to right) Powis Castle 1794, 'Boy destroying Piano by Philip Jones Griffiths, The siege of Jerusalem from the medeival 'Vaux Passional' manuscript.

Images from the National Library of Wales on Wikimedia Commons. (left to right) Powis Castle 1794, ‘Boy destroying Piano by Philip Jones Griffiths, The siege of Jerusalem from the medeival ‘Vaux Passional’ manuscript.

Existing partnerships will be built upon, but I also want to reach out to other Welsh cultural institutions and encourage them to get involved in any way they can.


One of the biggest challenges between now and August will be finding ways to get Wikipedia into  the education sector – to encourage young people and their teachers not to ignore the enormous globe shaped elephant in the room, but to engage with it responsibly.


Finally, all credit to the National Library who have embraced Wikipedia. With their open access, knowledge for all, ethos and my residency has been supported at every turn. Steps are now being taken to ensure that the legacy of the Wikipedian will be long and fruitful, helping ensure that Wales, its people and culture are well represented on the world’s biggest ever encyclopaedia.

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Posted - 01-02-2016 1 Comment

Collections / Exhibitions / News and Events


With the arrival of the Welsh Book of Remembrance at the National Library of Wales ( it is timely to reflect on the sacrifices made by members of the Library staff during the First World War. The current exhibition rightly recognises Trefor Lewis and Edward Evans, two members of staff who lost their lives on the Western Front. Overlooked are the other five members of staff who also served, two sustaining serious injuries.

J E Watkin from Stanley Road was the first member of Library staff to enlist. He was wounded in both knees in July 1916, subsequently losing his left leg. He later returned to work here as a cataloguer. Trefor Lewis of Portland Street was previously in charge of current periodicals. He joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and was wounded in Delville Wood on 8th August 1916. He died later and was interred in Aberystwyth Cemetery with full military honours. In November the same year Private William James of Ropewalk Cottage, Northgate Street serving with the Welsh Regiment was wounded for the third time and lost his right hand. Edward Hugh Evans from Nantceiro, Llanbadarn was an assistant Librarian before enlisting at Aberystwyth in December 1916. He was killed in the German Spring Offensive on 26th March 1918 and has no known grave.

F J Middlehurst was more fortunate. After enlisting in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers he was offered a commission in the Green Howards and survived the war as acting Captain.

In 1918 two further members of staff were conscripted into the RAF. They were Mr A J Hawkes, an assistant in classification and Mr Morgan, described as a junior clerk. Hawkes had previously been rejected for military service on health grounds having been diagnosed with a form of heart disease. So desperate had things become that even with his health record he was conscripted into the RAF as a clerk.

Correspondence and photographs connected with Trefor Lewis and Edward Hugh Evans can now be seen in the annexe to the Gregynog Gallery.

W Troughton.


The current Remembering for Peace exhibition in the Gregynog annexe. Photo courtesy Simon Evans.

Posted - 29-01-2016 No Comments


Words of War: conflict in Welsh literature

On Saturday 23 January, the second in the Library’s series of war exhibitions opened.  Words of War: conflict in Welsh literature (Geiriau’r Gyflafan: rhyfel mewn llenyddiaeth Gymreig) explores the influence of conflict on Welsh literature.  Welsh history is defined by conflict and this is reflected in the literature produced.  For centuries, Welsh poets and prose writers have depicted the experience of war and indeed some of Wales’ most famous poetry and stories tell the tale of battles fought.

Tales of bravery, heroism and tragedy of four historic conflicts are highlighted through the display of some of the Library’s most iconic items.  Poignant first hand experiences of war together with later reactions are shown alongside the narrative testimonies of contemporary and later chroniclers.




Nia Wyn Dafydd

Posted - 22-01-2016 1 Comment


Santes Dwynwen


Dr Joseph Parry Manuscripts: 'Dwynwen', A chorus for male voices with words by Benjamin Williams (Gwynionydd), 1886. (NLW MS 9292D)

Dr Joseph Parry Manuscripts: ‘Dwynwen’, A chorus for male voices with words by Benjamin Williams (Gwynionydd), 1886. (NLW MS 9292D)


Dwynwen – 1886

Y Santes Dwynwen (The Saint Dwynwen) is the Welsh Patron Saint of Lovers. Joseph Parry’s piece is for Male voices with words by the poet Gwynionydd (Benjamin Williams) and was used as a test piece in the 1896 Llandudno National Eisteddfod. The beginnings of a piano accompaniment to this piece can be seen in the manuscript although it disappears after a couple of pages. Noted at the top of the score by Parry himself (as a help to any non-Welsh performers of his music) is a short description of who Dwynwen was: “the smile of bliss, the Venus of the Britons; a woman’s name, the daughter of Brychan Brycheiniog”.

Through Discover Welsh Music’s digital archive you can explore the history of Welsh music-making. Discover Welsh Music is a digital hub for the music of Wales. The resource currently focuses on five composers from Yr Archif Gerddorol Gymreig / The Welsh Music Archive at the National Library of Wales : William Mathias, Dilys Elwyn-Edwards, Grace Williams, Joseph Parry and Alun Hoddinott. Each composer has a profile page where you can explore their manuscripts, learn about their lives and listen to the work they created.

Discover Welsh Music is managed by Tŷ Cerdd – Music Centre Wales and was created in partnership with Faber Music Publishing and The National Library of Wales.

Dr Joseph Parry Manuscripts at NLW  ( comprise music manuscripts, [early 1860s]-[late 1890s], of Dr Joseph Parry, including orchestral suites, overtures and symphonies, piano sonatas and preludes and fugues for the organ (accumulated by his publishers, Snell & Sons); together with a draft autobiography and other papers, 1871-1903 (in the possession of his daughter).  Arranged according to NLW reference numbers: NLW MSS 9281-9297, 9459, 9660-9661.

Nia Mai Daniel

Head of Archives and Manuscripts Section

Posted - 15-01-2016 No Comments


Er Cof: Remembering for Peace

On Saturday 16 January an exciting new exhibition, Er Cof: Remembering for Peace, opens in the Gregynog Annexe Gallery at the National Library of Wales. An exhibition that tells the story of the Welsh Book of Remembrance and some of individuals found in the book, visitors will be able to view the original book and explore its pages through a new digital copy that will also be on display.

Welsh Book of Remembrance

Welsh Book of Remembrance


Alongside these, related items Captain David Joness from the Library’s collections and from the personal collection of a project volunteer will also be on display. These letters, photographs and personal items will serve as a reminder that these men were more than just names in a list, they were real people with real lives and real families. A glimpse at their bravery in horrific surroundings and circumstances and hearing of their hopes after the war makes the display of this volume all the more poignant.

Captain David Jones

Captain David Jones


This exhibition gives us an opportunity to remember these individuals and honour their sacrifice but also gives an opportunity to consider how we should remember in order to maintain peace for future generations.


This exhibition is part of the Wales for Peace project, follow these links for more information :

Posted - 28-12-2015 No Comments


Miss Lobb’s Curios

One of the features of the MFV Lobb bequest is the large number of greetings cards of various sorts. Some used cards appear in her family scrapbooks, but there are also some quite rare trade catalogues, full of mint condition samples. These are all Christmas and New Year cards from the 1880’s, produced by English and French companies.


It seems that Miss Lobb was an avid collector of such miscellanea, and a lot of the imagery is rather bizarre! It’s hard to tell what inspired many of the designs. Some seem to have an almost sinister feel to them, but they were probably simply meant to amuse, much like “nonsense” verse, and the fantastical stories like Alice in Wonderland, which were emerging at the end of the 19th century.Lobb1

These days, you can’t buy a Christmas card that doesn’t have the usual ingredients of snow, Christmas trees, presents, Santa, or the nativity and big shiny stars. In this collection, there are some snowy scenes, but I’ve seen very few Christmas trees, Santa figures or, perhaps most surprisingly, out of several hundred designs, only a handful that specifically show the Nativity.

Of course, not all the designs shown in the catalogues would have sold well. Some may not have survived into the following year, and although feeding the Victorian love of novelty, and, indeed, being rather amusing to us now, in the evolution of Christmas icons, most of these were dead ends.


Posted - 21-12-2015 No Comments

Collections / Uncategorized

Geoff Charles’ photography

Geoff Charles’ contribution to Welsh photography is unique. His approach is characterized by both an innate talent and an empathy for his subjects. He worked as a photojournalist in Wales from the 1930s to the 1970s and was the photographer of record in Welsh-speaking Wales for most of that period. Today his archive is one of the treasures of the National Library of Wales.

Here are a few Christmassy images from his archive!




Snow scenes in Newtown and Geoff Charles’ family, January 1 1945, Crescent Road, Newtown, in the snow, with revellers, including Geoff Charles’ own family, his wife, Verlie Blanche, and children, John and Janet.




chritmas tree


An image of the lit Christmas tree at Llandrindod Wells towering above neighbouring buildings, December 1st, 1949



Christmas at the Orthopaedic Hospital, Gobowen, December 26, 1956

Images of Christmas time at the orthopaedic hospital in Gobowen showing, a nurse bottle feeding a baby, children on the wards some of whom are in fancy dress and others with their Christmas gifts, doctors and nurses on their rounds, nurses decorating the hospital, Santa Claus and an angel visiting the children, and the nursing staff concert party and band, who performed for the children, backstage preparations with nurses helping doctors to wear their fancy dress costumes, and doctors and nurses standing with a mannequin dressed as a spaceman in front of a model UFO.







The Brownies celebrate Christmas, December 1st 1954

Click here for more information about the Geoff Charles archive!

This post is part of the NLW Advent Calendar. Follow us on Flickr, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram to find out what else we have in store for you!

Posted - 20-12-2015 No Comments

Collections / Uncategorized

The Settlement’s Heritage

Translation from a letter by John Smith, on the table of the “Montrenegro” (Montenegro?) ship, that shipwrecked near the Settlement in November 1871. The letter was published in Y Gwladgarwr on the 1st of June, 1872. Smith gives the following description of the festive activities in the Settlement on Christmas day:

‘Yn y boreu, bu rhedegau ceffylau, yr oedd deg ar hugain yn ymryson am y gamp, cafwyd sport iawn. Yn y prydnawn, cafwyd gwledd, ac yn yr hwyr cyngherdd yn y dref. Cor y Wladfa a ganasant yn ardderchog o dda.’

Translation: ‘In the morning, there were horse races, there were thirty competing on the day. Everyone had a great time. In the afternoon, a feast was provided and in the evening, a concert in the town. The Settlement choir sang exceptionally well.’

Follow the link to read more:


Quote Box English Papur

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A blog about the work and collections of the National Library of Wales.

Due to the more personal nature of blogs it is the Library's policy to publish postings in the original language only. An equal number of blog posts are published in both Welsh and English, but they are not the same postings. For a translation of the blog readers may wish to try facilities such as Google Translate.

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