The National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth is in a precarious financial position which could result in “damaging measures” to balance the budget, including the loss of up to 30 jobs.
That is the stark message from Pedr ap Llwyd, the library’s chief executive and librarian, who warned that having to take such drastic measures would have “a devasting affect” on the library, Aberystwyth and Ceredigion.
He has called on the Welsh Government for an additional £1.445 million in its Grant in Aid baseline for 2021-22 and the reinstating of the capital grant, which it last received in 2016-17, to maintain the building and secure the health and safety of staff and readers.
He says the library’s “precarious” and “unsustainable” financial position is the result of “systematic, historic underfunding by Welsh Government” which threatens the future of the organisation.
Mr ap Llwyd made his comments in a letter to editors following the publication of an independent, tailored review, facilitated by the Welsh Government, which focused on the library’s efficiency, effectiveness and governance. The review panel came up with 34 recommendations.
“The library has seen a reduction of 40% in its Grant in Aid,” he said. “Other organisations have not. The Covid-19 pandemic has worsened the National Library’s financial situation. This year’s Grant in Aid has already been cut by £200,000 and we may well have to endure further cuts during the year.
“The library fully realises the financial challenges facing Welsh Government as a result of the pandemic. However, the government was very much aware of our perilous financial position before the pandemic appeared.
“If the recommendations of this review are ignored, the current crisis will lead to the implementation of a number of damaging measures to balance the budget in the long term, including the real possibility of having to reduce our workforce by up to 30 members of staff.
“The implications of having to take such drastic measure would have a devastating effect on the library, Aberystwyth and Ceredigion.”
The Welsh Government, library and review panel issued a joint press statement. It said the panel’s report and recommendations, which were welcomed by both the library and Welsh Government, had been published this week.
Meri Huws, the library’s interim president, said: “The National Library welcomes the recommendations of the review. It is a thorough and detailed analysis of the current state of play and of the issues faced by the library. We look forward to working closely with Welsh Government to implement its recommendations and to safeguard the library’s future.
“I am glad the review recognises the importance of the National Library to Wales as a treasury for the nation’s recorded heritage and how it could increase the impact of its services to benefit individuals and communities even further.”
Aled Eirug, panel chair, said: “We hope this report will lead to an effective and productive relationship between the National Library and Welsh Government. We have identified the most critical challenges facing the National Library, including making its services more available to a wider audience.
“We look forward to both the Welsh Government and National Library implementing our recommendations.”
Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord Elis-Thomas, said: “I welcome the independent views of the Review Panel and look forward to positive and collaborative working as we address its recommendations.
“This is an important cultural organisation which must have longevity and relevance for the whole of Wales. These findings offer constructive areas of focus for both the library and the Welsh Government.
“Both parties will work together to ensure the library remains robust and fit for purpose in what is clearly a very challenging climate for all our sponsored bodies.”
The full report can be found at https://gov.wales/national-library-wales-tailored-review-national-library-wales
Pedr ap Llwyd, stark warning about National Library job cuts.
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