Main Library

Conway castle

The Main Library houses the general book and journal collection that does not pertain to any one department. The core collection of reference works is also kept here, allowing good access for all staff.

General reference books such as the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Oxford English Dictionary, Who's Who, language dictionaries and atlases all form part of this section of the library.

The Main Library also houses the rarer, often more delicate, items which are kept in covered bookcases, for security and conservation reasons. Another growing collection that is kept centrally is based on museum and conservation studies.

Archaeology & Numismatics

The Library serving this department has developed into one of the finest collections of archaeological books and journals outside London and Oxbridge. A particular strength of the archaeology & numismatic library is the section on the archaeology and history of the Roman empire.


The art library holds monographs on artists, exhibition catalogues, sale catalogues, journals and material from galleries worldwide. The monograph collection includes artists from the Renaissance to the present day, with particular emphasis on artists that are in the Museum's collection. The library also has books on ceramics, glass, metalwork and other decorative arts.

Biodiversity & Systematic Biology (BioSyB)


This is the Museum's newest department, created by the merger of the former departments of botany and zoology. The libraries of the two separate departments are still in different areas of the Museum.

The collections of the botany library reflect curatorial activities in three main areas: vascular, cryptogamic and palaeobotanical studies. The library has a large collection of British floras and also houses the CT & E Vachell collection, comprising books mainly on British flowering plants.

The zoology section of the BioSyB library has equally impressive collections with strengths in entomology, mollusca and ornithology. The library has a fine collection of books and journals on conchology, donated by JR Le B Tomlin in the 1940s and 1950s.


The geology library reflects the curatorial activities in the department with books and journals covering palaeontology, mineralogy, petrology and cartography. The geology archive also has a collection of correspondence relating to Sir Henry Thomas de la Beche, founder of the Geological Survey of Great Britain.

Industrial & Maritime Collection

The industrial and maritime section of the library is housed in Swansea at the National Waterfront Museum. The collection includes material on the coal industry, maritime history, transport and other industries, with emphasis on Wales. There is also a fine photographic collection of images relating to transport and industry.

National Slate Museum

The library at the National Slate Museum mostly contains books about the local area and related industries. Although there is a small collection of books on natural history in Wales, the emphasis is on the history of north Wales and the slate industry in particular.

Library Shelves

St Fagans National History Museum

The library at St Fagans contains material relating to the social, working and cultural life of all classes of Welsh society. To access the library please contact the St Fagans Information Unit.

National Wool Museum

The National Wool Museum has a small collection of books pertaining to the woollen industry in Wales. This collection forms part of the St Fagans library.

Other collections

  • National Museum Cardiff

    National Museum Cardiff

    Discover art, natural history and geology. With a busy programme of exhibitions and events, we have something to amaze everyone, whatever your interest – and admission is free!

  • St Fagans National History Museum

    St Fagans

    St Fagans is one of Europe's foremost open-air museums and Wales's most popular heritage attraction.

  • Big Pit National Coal Museum

    Big Pit

    Big Pit is a real coal mine and one of Britain's leading mining museums. With facilities to educate and entertain all ages, Big Pit is an exciting and informative day out.

  • National Wool Museum

    National Wool Museum

    Located in the historic former Cambrian Mills, the Museum is a special place with a spellbinding story to tell.

  • National Roman Legion Museum

    National Roman Legion Museum

    In AD 75, the Romans built a fortress at Caerleon that would guard the region for over 200 years. Today at the National Roman Legion Museum you can learn what made the Romans a formidable force and how life wouldn't be the same without them.

  • National Slate Museum

    National Slate Museum

    The National Slate Museum offers a day full of enjoyment and education in a dramatically beautiful landscape on the shores of Llyn Padarn.

  • National Waterfront Museum

    National Waterfront Museum

    The National Waterfront Museum at Swansea tells the story of industry and innovation in Wales, now and over the last 300 years.

  • Rhagor: Explore our collections

    Rhagor (Welsh for ‘more’) offers unprecedented access to the amazing stories that lie behind our collections.