A UN Information Centre for Wales? The Story of the Temple Library.

A particularly enlightening discovery over Spring 2023 has been from among early papers surrounding the establishment of WCIA, which detailed the intention to set up a UN Information Centre for Wales in the existing Temple of Peace Library, with a full time staff member.

Wales’ ‘United Nations Information Centre‘ (UNIC) was opened following the launch and ‘official opening’ on 11 Oct 1973 of WCIA, the Welsh Centre for International Affairs. UNIC was one of 5 core programmes of work for the new WCIA, creating an internationalism resource hub in the magnificent Council Chamber / Library of the Temple, which already housed collections from the interwar WLNU (League of Nations Union) and associate bodies, and the post-WW2 United Nations Association. The UNIC had a dedicated Librarian, and a team of 5 archivists (whom are assumed to have been voluntary).

In the 1980s, the UNIC evolved to become a Development Education Resource Centre (DEC), primarily supporting schools and educationalists with curriculium resources and references for projects on global learning.

Subscriptions of the UN Information Centre, most periodicals of which can be viewed in the Library today and are in process of being re-curated into a ‘UNIC collection’ over Summer 2023.

As WCIA approaches its 50th Anniversary in 2023, the Library and its archives collections remain uncer WCIA’s guardianship; however, the story behind and information about the UNIC and its role was only uncovered during a St David’s Day Archives workshop on 1 March 2023, so we hope to piece together more about this ‘hidden history’ over coming months.

In Summer 2022, volunteers catalogued the contents of the Temple Library for the first time, enabling WCIA to start curating and bringing together the various collections within it. This document in itself is valuable in understanding the logic behind seemingly disparate UN and European periodicals and publications from the 1970s-80s.

Over Spring 2023, WCIA heritage volunteers will review these listings and research further WCIA background archives, as a step towards drawing together the UNIC Collections for public access, research and interpretation.

Find out more about the Temple of Peace Archives & Collections: https://www.wcia.org.uk/archives-and-collections/