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National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth

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Historical note

The National Library of Wales was established by Royal Charter on 19th March 1907, following a campaign lasting several decades. 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. As well as printed material, the Library holds extensive collections of manuscripts, archives, graphic material, maps, audio-visual material and digital resources. The Library has two foundation collections of printed books:

  • The Sir John Williams Collection: Sir John Williams, Bt. (1840-1926), a native of Carmarthenshire, was Court physician and an avid book collector. He purchased several libraries, the most valuable being the Shirburn Castle collection of 200 volumes, which includes most of the earliest books printed in the Welsh language. When the National Library of Wales was founded, Sir John donated his remarkable private library of over 26,000 volumes in Welsh or of Celtic interest as a foundation collection.
  • The University College of Wales Collection: 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, and transferred to the National Library in 1909. The collection numbers some 13,400 volumes.

Numerous other collections have been acquired by the Library over the years by purchase, donation or deposit, including two of the Welsh cathedral libraries. The Library continues to acquire historic material in accordance with its collection development policy.

Name and coverage of file

The file consists of approximately 13,250 records. The file includes records for items in Welsh, English and other languages and from numerous collections.

Mode of cataloguing

Records for items acquired up to 1985 have been converted from the card catalogues. Retrospective conversion of records for the Welsh and Celtic collections was carried out by the Library's staff, while retroconversion of non-Welsh material was performed externally. All retroconversion records for pre-1831 material have been checked by the Library's rare books specialists to correct any incorrect matches prior to export to HPB. The level of detail in records varies somewhat according to whether they were created in house or externally. In general, they follow AACR2 and DCRM(B) (Descriptive Cataloguing of Rare Materials (Books)) rules, and include Library of Congress subject headings and names conforming to the Library of Congress authority files.

Present/absent fields in cataloguing

References have been included to STC, Wing, ESTC and Adams. For Welsh material, there are also references to Libri Walliae: a catalogue of Welsh books and books printed in Wales 1546-1820 (Aberystwyth: National Library of Wales, 1987).
The Library's policy used to be to omit publishers' addresses from field 260 and not to indicate this by an omission mark. The current policy is to transcribe the imprint in its entirety. The file includes examples of both types of 260 field.
Copy-specific information is included in field 852 of the holdings record, rather than in the bibliographic record. This includes information about provenance and imperfections. Names of former owners are included in field 700 of the bibliographic record. However, it should be noted that provenance information is far from complete.

Treatment of multivolume works

The Library's normal policy is to create a single bibliographic record for multivolume works. However, in cases where ESTC has created separate records for each volume in a multivolume work, this practice has been followed.

Recommendations for searching

There should not be any limitations to the usual search strategies. Welsh place names in field 260 are frequently followed by an English translation in square brackets.
Retrospective conversion of card catalogues is not yet complete. Researchers who fail to find an item they expect to see included in the Library's holdings should contact the Library for further information.

Frequency of updates


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 resources/hpb/content/national_library_of_wales_aberystwyth.txt · Last modified: 2016/08/04 13:16 by lefferts



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