CILIP, the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals, has called for planned cuts to the National Library of Wales to be abandoned, ahead of a debate in the Senedd today (3rd February).
Thirty jobs are at risk of redundancy at the library in Aberystwyth, which is a charity and also a body sponsored by the Welsh government, with services expected to be cut back. A consultation on a proposed restructure is running until 15th February and the issue is being discussed by Welsh politicians today.
An online petition calling for “fair funding” of the library by the Welsh government has been signed by around 14,000 people and authors including Philip Pullman have come out in support.
In a statement issued jointly by CILIP and CILIP Cymru Wales, c.e.o. Nick Poole said he was also very worried by the plans.
He said: “CILIP is therefore extremely concerned, not just at the latest news of the proposed standstill budget for the library, which could result in the loss of up to 30 professional posts, but also in the general attitude of the Welsh government in recent years that risks neglecting its role and profile as an international beacon of excellence and learning and a foundation-stone of Welsh identity.”
CILIP pointed out a previous Welsh government review of the institution had highlighted it was already facing significant and unsustainable financial pressures, warranting “urgent attention” from the Welsh government.
The group added: “We understand the complex budgetary pressures facing the Welsh government, and will also continue to make representation to HM government to ensure a fair funding settlement for Wales. However, we know as you know that the cost of what you stand to lose by diminishing the National Library of Wales is far higher than the money that these cuts seek to save.
“We encourage the Welsh government to reverse this decision, and to work with the NLW Leadership to ensure adequate budgetary provision is made, not just to survive, but to continue to stand as a seat of learning and pride for the people of Wales.”
A spokesman for the Welsh government said: "We know this is a very difficult period for the culture and heritage sector and talk of any job losses is a real concern. We are looking at every option available to us to protect jobs and livelihoods at Wales’ national institutions.
Despite years of austerity and lack of adequate funding for Wales we have, once again, protected the library’s grant-in-aid from any reductions. We have also worked to increase the library’s capital baseline in recent years, reflecting our commitment to maintaining the ibrary’s iconic building and the important collections held within."
The Bookseller has approached the National Library of Wales for comment.