We’re Reopening the Library and Search Room on 4 April 2022
When we closed the doors to our Library and Search Room for refurbishment on 3 February 2020 with the intention of reopening just three weeks later, we had no idea that closure would last for more than a year. Throughout lockdown and beyond, the Library and Enquiries Team has continued to operate a remote service, answering thousands of enquiries and providing scans and photographs of our records to government bodies, professional contractors and researchers, the media, and the general public. Since last summer, we have also allowed researchers to visit the Search Room by appointment. While that has met many of our users’ needs, we are very excited to announce that from Monday, 4 April, we are reopening the Library and Search Room without appointment, on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, 9:30–16:00, and on Wednesdays, 10:30–16:30.
While this is a resumption of our normal service, it is also the first full public reopening of our Search Room since it’s refurbishment – and we think it looks really nice! We have a new, more open ceiling and a pyramidal glass roof which not only provides natural light, but also allows us to open the windows to allow fresh air and better ventilation.
When visiting the Search Room, you can view the extensive collections of the National Monuments Record of Wales, one of Wales’s three national heritage collections. In addition to many thousands of surveys, reports, maps, and drawings, we hold the largest photographic collection in Wales, with almost two million photographs, including over a million aerial photographs. Our collection can be searched on Coflein, here, and our staff will be more than happy to assist you in searching our catalogue either during your visit or through a remote enquiry before you come. Of course, while booking will no longer be essential from 4 April, we do still recommend arranging to view items a few days ahead of time, particularly if you wish to see large volumes of material or our Aerial Photograph collection, as it will ensure that everything is ready and waiting for you, so that you can get the most out of your visit.
In visiting the Search Room, you will also have the opportunity to use our specialist reference library, which holds thousands of books and journals related to archaeology, architecture, history, heritage, and culture of both Wales and the wider world. We even have some books and journals which aren’t in the National Library! You can search the library catalogue here, but – and this is the best part – our library, except for a few old or rare books preserved in the archive, is all on open shelves in the Search Room, so you are free to browse the shelves at your leisure!
In addition to our extensive archives and specialist library, the reopening of the search room means more direct access to another invaluable resource – our helpful Library and Enquiries Staff! While we have worked tirelessly to ensure that we have helped as many researchers as possible throughout the last two years through our remote service, we are looking forward to assisting enquirers face-to-face again. Our knowledgeable staff are eager to assist you in navigating our collections and helping you with your research on Wales’s rich historic environment, including buildings as well as maritime and archaeological sites.
Finally, while we are resuming a more normal service, we will be keeping some measures in place for a little while longer. We will have a maximum occupancy limit, and please continue to practice social distancing and wear a mask unless you are medically exempt. We will also be opening the windows whenever possible to ensure good air flow and circulation. This not only protects the health and safety of our staff and visitors, but also ensures that vulnerable researchers can access our records and services comfortably and confidently. You can read our current policies and procedures, here.
You can explore a virtual tour of our Library and Search Room here (unfortunately, without the new roof!
You can find information about how to find us, here. We look forward to seeing you from 4 April and to help you discover and explore the historic environment of Wales!
Dr Adam N. Coward
Enquiries and Library Assistant