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Written Statement - Update on the Welsh Government’s support to the National Library of Wales following the fire in April 2013

John Griffiths, Minister for Culture and Sport

Following the fire to the roof of the National Library of Wales on 26 April, I agreed to keep members updated on the situation.

I had a meeting with the President of the National Library of Wales, Sir Deian Hopkin, and the Library’s new Chief Executive and Librarian, Aled Gruffydd Jones, on 7 October 2013.  I reiterated the Welsh Government’s commitment to support the Library through the on-going process to manage the consequences of the fire and to develop facilities. Legal discussions regarding insurance and the financial consequences of the fire are on-going and I will update Members once a definitive outcome has been reached.  In the meantime, my officials are continuing to work closely with the Library to enable it to undertake the remedial work and developmental work required as a consequence of the fire.

I am pleased to confirm that I have allocated an additional £625,000 in capital funding in 2013-14 from the Culture & Sport Department to enable essential structural repairs and permanent remedial work to the roof of the fire damaged building. This work will restore the roof and top floor of the building to a basic operational condition by spring 2014. A further £375,000 extra capital funding has been allocated to the Library in 2014-15 to assist with on-going work to invest in the Library’s building and infrastructure to support its important work.  This extra capital funding was outlined in the Welsh Government’s Draft Budget, which was tabled on 8 October.  I will continue to seek further opportunities to support strategic capital investment in the Library’s physical and technical infrastructure.

The Draft Budget also outlines an additional £3.5 million capital funding provided from Welsh Government central capital reserves (£3.3 million in 2014-15 and £200,000 in 2015-16).  This significant investment by the Welsh Government will enable preparatory works for a wider project on conservation, digital preservation and access which the Library is developing.  

This preparatory work will provide additional capacity and enhanced specialist storage to conserve and ensure sustainable access to our national collections. In addition to jobs created during the development and construction phases, the wider project aims to develop the current and future conservation workforce in Wales through a range of networks, specialist skills development and training opportunities.

I visited the Library on 17 October to officially open a new exhibition which brings together four of Wales’ most iconic medieval manuscripts for the first time.  This is one of a range of exhibitions currently showing at the Library that underline the importance of the Library’s work in conserving, digitising and providing access to our cultural heritage.  

I would like to thank the Library’s staff for their on-going commitment to serving the public through these difficult times, and I am encouraged by the positive plans that the Library is developing for the future.