Since the beginning of 2011 the National Library of Wales (NLW) has been one of 19 leading European research libraries involved in the Europeana Libraries Project, which, in a two-year period, is seeking to provide free access to 5 million digital objects on the European Library and Europeana websites. Reflecting our own commitment to digitisation and allowing free access to our digitised collections, the NLW will be providing the Europeana Libraries project with over 100,000 pages of text-based material, over 5,000 images from our Welsh Landscape collection of topographical prints, over 4,000 images from the John Thomas photographic collection and over 120,000 images from the Geoff Charles photographic collection.
The project, funded by the European Commission, is being coordinated by the European Library and is supported by the Conference of European National Librarians , the Consortium of European Research Libraries, the Europeana Foundation and the Association of European Research Libraries. By bringing together a diverse collection of digital content taken from research libraries across Europe, the project hopes to lay a foundation upon which an even larger set of resources for researchers can be collected. Europeana Libraries will allow the NLW to place some of its most important digitized collections at the heart of an innovative and ambitious project that is at the forefront of efforts to create a single library aggregator for digital content from across Europe’s research libraries. This will allow researchers to access all digital content freely available from European research libraries via one portal.
The digital content provided by the NLW to the project offers a text-based and visual record of the Welsh landscape, its people and society from the 18th century through to the late 20th century. The text-based material will provide researchers with fully searchable access to five important 19th century Welsh periodicals – Y Traethodydd, Archaelogia Cambrensis, Yr Haul, Y Diwygiwr and Y Greal. These periodicals, which span the latter half of the 19th century, offer a broad overview of Welsh history and society during this period. Encompassing the radical dissenting politics of Y Diwygiwr, the conservative, established church orientated Yr Haul, and the Welsh Baptist Y Greal, these periodicals will give the researcher the opportunity to follow the key debates and events of late 19th century Welsh history from a variety of contemporary political and religious perspectives. In addition, the researcher will also be able to access the broad range of essays included in Y Traethodydd, a key 19th century periodical that covered subjects ranging from religion and politics to literature and philosophy, as well as the early historical research and theory contained in Archaelogia Cambrensis. Combined, these periodicals provide an important record of Welsh society, religion and politics during a particularly turbulent period in the nation’s history.
Access to our Welsh Landscape collection will make available to researchers a large selection of topographical prints of the Welsh landscape dating from between 1750 and 1850. The collection includes the work of a number of important artists and printmakers such as David Cox, Paul Sandby, Henry Gastineau and Julius Caesar Ibbetson. The collection includes images from the length and breadth of Wales, a reflection of the allure the Welsh landscape held for artists during this period.
The inclusion of the John Thomas and Geoff Charles collections will provide access to two of the NLW’s most important photographic collections. Both collections offer an invaluable lens-eye record of Welsh life with John Thomas’ photographs offering a depiction of Welsh life during the late 19th century and Geoff Charles’ photographs of Welsh life during the Second World War and latter half of the 20th century. Both photographers' vocations, John Thomas as a travelling photographer and Geoff Charles as a photojournalist, have left us with images that encompass much of the Welsh nation, with Charles in particular a witness to some key historical events during the latter half of the 20th century. The NLW’s involvement in the project will also see a large set of Geoff Charles’ digitized photographs, from the 1960s and 1970s, placed on to the NLW’s online catalogue for the first time.
The project will also be a means of introducing these collections, and others from the NLW, to a broader European and global audience. Alongside the collections provided by the NLW, Europeana Libraries will also be providing access to a wide and varied set of research resources, including photographs of the Spanish Civil War from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, a large collection of Ottoman manuscripts from the University of Belgrade, audio-visual material and theses from across Europe and access to the Bodleian Library’s collection of public-domain digitized books and periodicals, the largest collection of its kind currently available in Europe.