Tucked away in the far reaches of the Hendrefoelan Student Village lies the South Wales Miner’s Library, by far underrated and overlooked by the many occupants of both the Village and Swansea University. I myself can be accused of ignorance when it comes to knowing the existence of this quaint hidden gem. The Miners Library offers a tranquil and peaceful working environment, with warm and welcoming staff always on hand to help you find a certain book or answer any queries you may have.
However, ignorance does not diminish the activity that occurs here, as the library hosts all kinds of enterprise, from modern language classes to other specialty courses (and even being used as a filming location by Sky Arts!), receiving a constant hive of attention, despite being off the main campus location.
Volunteering here, as a native Englishwoman, has also given me an insight into aspects of Welsh history I never really contemplated. Something I have been working on
Another part of the library I got to experience in my first semester here was a locked room, out of sight from the usual visitor. This room plays host to a wealth of literature, documents, posters and archived material, posters from old exhibitions and even old Halls of Residence signs from Clyne Gardens, where one of my friends parents used to live when she was at Swansea University! There was one room which housed thousands of antique books from Miner’s Institutions and private collections, and as soon as you opened the door the smell of aged paper hit you like a tidal wave. Such an extensive collection give you an insight into what topics and subjects interested the workers, and the majority of books were of a historical, political, or religious nature. I was able to gain an understanding of the importance of archiving for the storage and maintenance of books and old manuscripts, which is paramount to special collections such as these. It’s a shame all this material is hidden away and tucked out of sight because there isn’t enough space on the shelves – I could have stayed in there all day!
Thankfully, I am able to return to the library for the current semester to continue to wonder at the extensive materials stored here, and build upon my skills as a librarian.
by Silke Davison, 3rd Year Classics student.