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The National Library of Wales holds the largest collection of books in Wales.

Books were first collected for the establishment of a National Library in 1873. The ‘Welsh Library’ was held at the University of Wales, which had just been founded in Aberystwyth. It was at this time that the core of our books collection was also accumulated – the Sir John Williams Collection.

Under the copyright act of 1911 the Library was given the right to receive a copy from the publisher of each publication made in Britain and Ireland.

The Library also purchases books of Welsh and Celtic interest from all over the world. We also endeavour to fill any ‘gaps’ in the collections by purchasing copies that we do not already hold.

You can request any book for viewing through our Main Catalogue.


The Library’s periodical holdings are significant and extensive. They include:

  • academic periodicals
  • popular recreational journals
  • children’s magazines
  • comics and fanzines

Consult the Catalogue for holdings of:

  • periodicals published before 1986 and continuing after 1986
  • periodicals commencing after 1986

Records for periodicals which ceased publication before 1986 are in the process of being added to the Catalogue. Ask staff members for help if you can’t find a title.

Older titles may also be available in other formats such as microfiche and microfilm.

Significant new periodical holdings are being offered in electronic full-text and searchable formats on our Subscriptions and Other Resources page.

Most periodical titles held by the Library are published in Britain. But many other titles have been obtained through purchase, donation and exchange and recently through the provision of electronic formats.


An extensive selection of newspapers can be seen in the Library, from Welsh papers to British publications and beyond.

Through copyright acquisitions and the purchase of copies of newspapers on microfilm, the Library has collected a number of daily and weekly titles from the rest of the UK, subscribing also to a selection of titles from other parts of the world.

In addition to papers from the 19th century onwards, the Library has extended its collections by buying a number of titles on microfilm from the series Early English Newspapers, which includes newspapers from the 17th and 18th century.

By now the Library subscribes to databases and news resources as well as electronic newspapers. The Times Digital Archive 1785-1985 is an example where it is possible to search through complete digital issues of the Times (London) using a password.

You may also search through NewsUK, which offers national and regional news by combining current British popular newspaper titles in one database.


Newsplan is a comprehensive programme, which aims to microfilm and keep UK and Irish local newspapers.

By preparing a microfilm of the original newspapers, which is of high quality and of conservational standard, it will be possible to safeguard the master negatives from the microfilm when the original newspapers will have deteriorated.

Copies of the negatives may be used as reading copies or scanned to offer digital access online. Newsplan Cymru has a website which presents information about its work and offers access to a database of Welsh newspapers available in libraries, either on paper or microfilm.