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The National Library of Wales purchases publications issued in other countries in addition to being a legal deposit library (with the right to receive free of charge a copy of every printed work issued to the public in the UK and Ireland).

It has a large collection of books, journals and newspapers, built up over a century, and containing items relating to many ethnic groups, including works in various languages published in Britain and elsewhere.

The Library also collects other materials in many varied formats, including:

  • manuscripts
  • archives
  • maps
  • pictures
  • photographs
  • music
  • screen and sound material

Most of this material relates to Wales but it does include examples of the activities of Welsh people in other countries and in relation to other cultures.

Viewing and searching the collections

In 2007 the Library marked the bicentenary of the end of the Atlantic Slave Trade with an exhibition entitled, ‘Traed mewn cyffion / Feet in chains’, which was created in partnership with National Museum Wales and Bangor University. In this exhibition we displayed the Diary of Thomas Clarkson, which includes details of his journey through Wales in support of abolition (NLW 14984A). Our collections also contain books by Thomas Clarkson and some letters. The Welsh poet and antiquary Iolo Morganwg (Edward Williams, 1747–1826) was another who campaigned against the slave trade. His books and papers are also in the Library.

If you cannot find what you are looking for in the Main Catalogue, contact our Enquiries Team or by phone on 01970 632 933 for assistance and advice

Examples of ethnic collections

The Caribbean

The Library contains materials relating to the Caribbean and to Caribbean history. Some of these were documented by the CASBAH project, which has produced a pilot website for research resources relating to Caribbean Studies and the history of Black and Asian peoples in the UK.

The CASBAH website (archived website) contains a brief description of relevant printed sources at The National Library of Wales. (Please note that the catalogue has now changed to the full catalogue.) There is also information on certain archive sources in Appendix 2.

Indian languages

The Library possesses a number of works in and about Indian languages. A regular reader and researcher, Bijon Sinha, has kindly helped us to identify some of the strengths of our collection. There are works on:

  • linguistics and comparative linguistics, particularly on the links between Indian and European languages
  • works on individual languages, especially Sanskrit
  • other ancient and modern languages such as Pali, Devanagri, Hindi, Bengali, Oriya, Gujerati, Punjabi, Nepali and Tibetan
  • literature in Bengali, including poetry, prose and folk tales
  • Vedic texts 
  • works on Indian religions, including studies from the late 18th and early 19th centuries
  • extensive collection of British Imperial Documents which contains administrative, judicial, education and public health reports for many of the Indian provinces in the period before independence
  • printed volumes of the Census of India, 1901, 1911, 1921 and 1931

This collection is not catalogued, but we will endeavour to answer enquiries.


We have an important collection of around 4,500 volumes donated to the Library by the eminent Sinologist David Hawkes, formerly Professor of Chinese at Oxford. It includes works in Chinese, Japanese and English relating to:

  • Chinese language
  • literature
  • history
  • philosophy
  • religion
  • drama

The Library has a card catalogue of the entire collection. This has been copied and scanned and can be viewed as PDF documents below.

The David Hawkes Collection card catalogue (pdf)


You will find many things of interest by browsing in the online catalogue using search terms relating to ethnic minorities. We would like to add to this page, so please contact us to draw our attention to anything you find in our catalogue which relates to minority ethnic communities.