The Freedom of Information Act came fully into operation on 1 January 2005. This Act gives you a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by the National Library of Wales, unless it is already available to you through other means, or is exempt from the framework of the Act. Under the terms of the Act, you have a right to be informed whether the information you require is held by the NLW, and to receive the information in the format of your choice, where this is possible.
Making an application
Prior to making a request for information, you should consult the NLW's Publication Scheme which is also available at the Reception. This publication scheme is a complete guide to information which is routinely published by the NLW. It is quite detailed since the Library is not required to respond to individual requests for information which is already accessible through the scheme.
You should make your application for information in writing (by letter, fax or email, or by using the FOI request form), including your name and address. Postal enquiries should be addressed to the Director of Collections and Public Programmes, National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, SY23 3BU, tel: +44 (0)1970 632830, e-mail enquiries should be sent to email@example.com. You should provide sufficient detail about the information you require to enable NLW staff to locate the relevant information. If the details provided by you are not sufficient for NLW staff to locate the requested information, we will contact you for further details. We will assist you to clarify your request by providing advice about our holdings and directing you to relevant information sources, such as access to catalogues and indexes. You should state on your application in which format you would prefer the information to be released to you. You should receive a response from the NLW within 20 working days of the receipt of your enquiry.
It may be necessary for the NLW to contact other public authorities or third parties in order to satisfy your request, or to determine whether the information can be released to you. If this is the case, we may need to transfer your request to a third party. Please state on your application whether you wish to be notified prior to transfer, if this is deemed necessary.
Assessing a request
On receipt of the request, the NLW will check that it was received in writing, includes a name and address, and contains sufficient information to be able to identify the required information. It will then be assessed to ascertain whether the request refers to exempt information. As the Act covers information, rather than records, your request may relate to a document which is partly available and partly exempt, e.g. minutes of a meeting which includes opinions about named individuals. In this example, you would have access to the decisions of the meeting, but the information about individuals (exempt information under the Data Protection Act) would be concealed.You can find a list of categories of exempt information in Part 2 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. This Act is available on line here. There are two categories of exemption: absolute and qualified. If the information is subject to a qualified exemption, the Library will use the public interest test to determine whether it is able to release the information requested. This test assesses whether the public interest in disclosing the information, is greater than that of concealing it. The NLW is committed to providing access to information and will make a presumption of disclosure, wherever possible.
Charging for information
The NLW has a right to charge for providing information, in accordance with the fee structure produced by the Information Commissioner's Office. The Library may charge the applicant if the costs of finding the requested information would exceed £450. There is a national hourly rate for calculating the cost of finding the information. The Library can also charge for the whole cost of providing the information. It can also refuse to provide the information if the cost of providing it would exceed the limit. If the NLW intends to charge a fee for providing your information, we will send you a fee notice which will detail the costs before proceeding with your request. You have three months to pay the fee. The process stops until the remittance has been received by the NLW.
If no fee is required and the information is not exempt, the NLW will send you a copy of the information in the format you requested. If it appears that it will take more than 20 working days to respond to your request, the NLW will send you a letter which will specify the reasons for the delay.
If the information you requested is exempt, or providing the information would exceed the fee limit specified by the Information Commissioner, the Library will issue you with a written refusal notice. This notice will specify the reasons for refusing your request for information. If you do not accept the reasons specified, you have a right to appeal against this decision by following the complaints procedure. Reasons for refusing to provide information may include the following:
- The information is not held by the organisation
- It is a vexatious or repeated request
- The cost of locating and retrieving the information exceeds the limit
- The aggregated costs of two or more similar requests exceed the limit
- The information is exempt from the requirement to confirm or deny whether the information is held
- The information is exempt from the requirement to disclose information
- The exemption has been subject to a public interest test and the decision has been taken not to disclose
- The information is already available on the publication scheme
- The information is in open access archives
If you are not satisfied with the response that you have received to your request for information, you have a right to complain. As a first step, you should write to, or email, the Director of Collections and Public Programmes, National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, Wales, SY23 3BU, tel: +44 (0)1970 632830, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The Library will then establish a panel to consider the complaint. The panel will comprise three members of staff who were not involved in responding to your request. The panel will be chaired by one of the Directors of the Library. You will be informed of the target date for receiving a response to your request. If the panel decides that additional information should be disclosed, this will be done as soon as possible. If it is apparent that procedures have not been followed, you will be issued with an apology.
If you are not satisfied with the response from the Library's internal review process, you have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner. The contact details are: FOI Compliance Team (Complaints), Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.