The National Library of Wales


The National Library of Wales has been a pioneer in developing large-scale digital collections based around their holdings of texts (books, manuscripts and maps), images (phtographs, artworks) and audio visual material related to Welsh history, language and culture. The National Library houses the de facto national archive of Wales, its national photographic collection, its screen and sound archive, and its second largest art collection. Digital content is available in English and Welsh. 

Resources of particular interest to the Digging in to Data Challenge: 

1) Historic Newspapers and Journals aims to digitise 2 million pages of historical newspapers and journals published in Wales and to provide new opportunities for existing and new audiences to research and exploit this record of everyday knowledge online – completely free of charge. This 3-year project began in 2009 and the National Library of Wales aims to launch the new digital service on its website from 2012. This will be the largest body of searchable text relating to Wales.  The project aims to digitise all of the National Library’s paper holdings of out-of-copyright newspapers and journals - generally those published in Wales up to 1911 and comprising more than 700 different titles touching all corners of Wales. Researchers worldwide will be able to search for words, phrases and dates across 2 million pages.  

2) Welsh Journals Online provides free access to scholarship from Wales. The back-numbers of up to 50 titles will be available, ranging from academic and scientific publications to literary and popular magazines. Complete runs of each title have been included, and occasional papers, Index volumes and Monographs are also available. 

3) Welsh Wills Online has made freely available digital images of over 190,000 Welsh wills (some 800,000 pages). Wills which were proved in the Welsh ecclesiastical courts before the introduction of Civil Probate on 11 January 1858 have long been deposited at The National Library of Wales. 

4. Geoff Charles Collection. Charles (1909 – 2002) was a newspaper photographer who over 50 years produced a vivid and distinctive portrait of Welsh life, and his archive of 120,000 photographs is now one of the National Library’s treasures. In the late 1990s a programme to digitise the negatives was established so that the original negatives could be frozen to stabilise their condition. Over 14,000 images from the Geoff Charles archive were digitised, producing 2,294 images and over 16,000 Fedora objects.

5. National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales. The National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales is home to a comprehensive and unequalled collection of films, television programmes, videos, sound recordings and music relating to Wales and the Welsh. The Archive is developing digital content in collaboration with major English and Welsh language broadcasters. 


ContactLorna Hughes, University of Wales Chair in Digital Collections, responsible for establishing a research programme based around the Library’s digital collections.