My AHRC doctoral studentship is part of an innovative collaboration between the Open University and The National Library of Wales/Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru. My project explores the construction and management of the various library services active in Wales from 1880-1916 and evaluates the impact of the service on the population of Wales. My recent discovery of an extensive readers register at the National Library has prompted me to construct a database to aggregate and analyse this data. This study should reveal who was using the library when it first opened in 1909, where they came from and what they were reading.
In addition, I aim to assess and document the public aims for a national library of Wales during this period, in what capacity the institution fulfilled those objectives and how far it functioned as an all-encompassing Welsh ‘national’ institution. I aim to examine to what extent the various library systems participated in a reimagining of Welsh national identity at the end of the nineteenth-century, and how far library acquisition policies influenced and were influenced by a nationalistic agenda.