Ceredigion Council leader Ellen ap Gwynn and Welsh Government Regeneration Minister Huw Lewis this week opened Aberystwyth’s new £2 million Town Library and County Archive.
Although the location of the library will continue to be known by many people as the Old Town Hall, the official name of the library is now Canolfan Alun R. Edwards. This has come as a surprise to those who don’t know the history of the library service in Ceredigion.
Alun R. Edwards (1920-1986) was raised in Llanio, near Tregaron, and worked at the National Library as a young man. As Ceredigion Council’s website recalls,
“He was appointed librarian on lst January 1950. Over the next quarter of a century he was to revolutionise the Cardiganshire library services and with his vision and pioneering work he transformed and expanded the role of the library and made it much more than a place to borrow books. Among other things the mobile library scheme was expanded to cover the whole of the county.
"Book discussion groups were set up, book quizzes were held throughout the county, the first cassette library was established and a compilation of talks on Welsh life past and present made. He also played a major role in setting up the Welsh Books Council and the College of Librarianship.
“With reorganisation in 1974, libraries came under the control of Dyfed County Council. Alun R Edwards was appointed as the Dyfed librarian and was to remain in this post until his retirement in 1980."
In her speech, Ellen ap Gwynn, added:
"As a former member of staff at the County Library under the direction of Alun R Edwards in the early seventies, I recall that plans were afoot to build a new Library back in those days. Those plans didn’t come to fruition, so I’m glad to see that we are finally opening Canolfan Alun R. Edwards in the new look Aberystwyth Town Hall, with a Library and Archives that are fit for the 21st century.”
The new library offers improved access for disabled people, better toilets and baby changing facilities and double the number of computers. The Local History collection and the Archives are now all under one roof.
Since the new library opened in April, 200 new members have joined, attendance by children has doubled and borrowings are up by 25%.
The photo shows Ellen ap Gwynn at the opening. The lady sitting on her right is the widow of Alun R. Edwards.