Saturday, July 26, 2007 Aberystwyth and The National Library of Wales (Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru)

Graeme dropped me off in town and I took the train from Tywyn to Machynlleth and from there to Aberystwyth to see the National Library of Wales, which sits high atop a hill overlooking the city and the ocean beyond. I went in and got a reader's card and took a tour of some of the library's displays, one of which was a video production on binding books by hand. I stood and watched it with interest, and was interested to see that it had been created by the British Library. The film just increased my interest in preservation and conservation and archiving. This year was the National Library's centenial, as reflected by the floral tribute above.
The library houses the National Screen and Sound Archives and hosts a number of spectacular exhibits, including one on photographer Geoff Charles's work and a John Donne and Robert Owen exhibit as well. The library is in the process of digitizing much of the Geoff Charles collection at this time.
The library is a legal deposit library and it holds the world's largest collection on Wales and other Celtic nations. I found it interesting that the National Library of Wales has also begun a partnership with the state of Ohio to gather and preserve information about Welsh Americans.
The Welsh National Library handles reader requests much like the British Library in London does, but on a somewhat smaller scale. There was only one young lady taking care of reader registration when I went in to get my card. Once I had my card, I was free to request and read any items of interest found in their collection.
The website for the library is An interesting fact that I learned while there was that there had been a huge argument between Aberystwyth and Cardiff about which City should be allowed to have the National Library locate there. In the end, Aberystwyth won the library, and Cardiff got the National Museum Wales, which is also celebrating its centenary this year.
The National Library collection holds several items by and about Susan Cooper, but unfortunately I did not have enough time to request and view them and to make the last train back to Tywyn via Machynlleth. The trip was worthwhile anyhow because I did get the opportunity to take a brief tour of the building and to see some of the exhibits. I also found it interesting that the Univeristy of Wales, Aberystwyth offers an information studies postgraduate degree, including a doctoral program. I'll file that information away for future reference.

Saturday evening I was able to get on a special excursion of the local steam train line, Tal y Llyn Railway up past my hotel at Dolgoch Falls and on the Abergynolwyn and then back down to the hotel. On the trip up to Abergynolwyn and back down to Dolgoch Falls, I had a lot of fun listening to the people in my coach talk about their experiences as Tal y Llyn railway volunteers over the past several years. They swapped stories and laughed about jokes they'd played on each other and were quite happy to include me in the fun as they reminisced.

I spent the rest of the evening in the pub talking with Sarah, the local historian. We discussed the background of Susan Cooper’s books and how she used Tywyn as the setting. No one there had read the books, but Ron, an elderly gentleman who was spending the weekend and had heard me talking about Susan Cooper the previous night, found a paperback copy of The Dark is Rising and brought it around for everyone to see.

1 comment:

biggestbooklover said...

Another oops! I swear that Graeme's name appeared on only one line when I posted this entry!