Ken Skates, the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, today joined the Library’s staff to officially re-open part of the third library building at The National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth.
The 6 floors of primarily office space in this area suffered severe damage from a fire which broke out on the roof of the Library on the afternoon of Friday 26th April 2013. With support from the Welsh Government, the Library has been able to bring this part of the building back into use following a programme of extensive repair works.
The fire prompted a wave of public concern for the Library, which cares for a wide range of multimedia items including publications, archives and documentary heritage; audio-visual material, films and sound recordings; paintings, photographs and artworks. National treasures housed in the Library include early and important manuscripts such as The Laws of Hywel Dda, Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, and the Black Book of Carmarthen, the earliest manuscript in the Welsh language.
Unveiling a plaque to mark the occasion, the Deputy Minister said:
”The wave of public concern following the fire in 2013 shows the support and appreciation there is for the National Library as one of our important national institutions, and its role in protecting and caring for many of our national treasures.
“I am pleased the Welsh Government has provided almost £2.5million funding to support the Library in bringing this part of the building back to life. I would like to commend the Library’s staff for their expertise and dedication to the Library’s recovery from the fire, and in continuing to provide a high-quality service to users and visitors throughout a challenging period.
“I hope these new and improved facilities will help the Library in its work to develop new and exciting projects and reach new audiences, ensuring it continues to go from strength to strength.”
Sir Deian Hopkin, President at The National Library of Wales added:
“As President, it gives me great pleasure to welcome Ken Skates, Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, to the Library today to re-open the restored part of the Library following the serious fire on 26 April 2013. "Without the assistance of the Welsh Government this would not have been possible and we thank the Deputy Minister for his continued support".
“I must also thank Library staff for their patience and goodwill since the fire, often working under difficult circumstances.”
This refurbishment is a major step forward for the Library in its ongoing work to develop the building and the services it provides, engaging with existing audiences and reaching out to new audiences across Wales and beyond.
During his visit the Deputy Minister also presented the Library with a certificate marking its achievement of Archive Service Accreditation status. This is a UK-wide quality standard scheme for archive services. The Accreditation Committee particularly commended the excellence of developments in volunteering at the Library in recent years.
Avril E. Jones, Director of Collections and Public Programmes said:
“This award is a tangible recognition of the National Library’s success in preserving and making accessible Wales’ incredibly rich archive heritage and reflects both the skill and care of our dedicated workforce.
“To achieve accreditation, every aspect of how we manage our collections has been scrutinised and found to meet UK-wide standards. We have also been found to meet the needs of users of our services locally in the Library and online.”
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