The Berkeley Library, designed by Paul Koralek, opened in 1967 and is widely regarded as one of Ireland’s finest modern buildings. In 2017, the Library of Trinity College Dublin is hosting a series of events to celebrate the first fifty years of the building and consider how it might continue to inspire and delight in the future.

“In commissioning this brutalist gem in the 1960s, the elders of Trinity College displayed remarkable bravery and vision… Dublin’s oldest university produces the best Irish modernism.”
Wallpaper* city guide: Dublin.

“…an inspired building, subtle in its relationship to the existing buildings and squares, plastic in detail and magnificent in its internal lighting effects.”
Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin.

A key part of the year of events is a special project to document the lead up to the construction of the Berkeley Library and the first fifty years of its life, bringing together old and new images, and highlighting key events and details.

We are looking for pictures to feature, and stories to tell. Can you help?

“My pulse always races a little faster when I come here… I have very particular ideas growing up [in the 1960s] of what the future ought to look like… it ought to look like that [points at image of the Berkeley]! Clean lines, modernism, slightly dramatic, beautiful…”
Roly Keating, Chief Executive, British Library discussing the Berkeley Library at the Library Futures Symposium 2016.


We are featuring fifty posts to tell the story of the Berkeley Library. Each post will feature at least one image – often more.

Main image: Architectural Press Archive/RIBA Collections.

#38 OK Computer

Today we’ll look at how computerisation came to the Library catalogue. Thursday 30 November saw a number of events run by the Library to celebrate International Digital Preservation Day. This featured a pop-up museum in the Berkeley Library of (mainly) obsolete computer equipment, including several from the Library’s own collection. 

#37 In A Class Of Their Own

Over the next few posts we’ll look at some of the challenges faced in creating and maintaining the catalogues that index the Library’s large and ever-expanding collection. Here’s Niamh Harte, an Assistant Librarian with our Collections Management department: Permanent library clerks were first employed in the 1830s for the purpose of cataloguing our collections, and …


Over the course of 2017, the Library will be celebrating Berkeley50 with a number of eclectic events:


Launch event, in the Berkeley Library

Ellen Rowley, architectural and cultural historian, will begin a series of architectural events with a talk on the origins and impact of the Berkeley Library. A screening will also take place of the wonderful Building for Books film produced in 1958. Unusually, this event will take place while the Library is open, allowing attendees to see the building in full operation.


Public Lecture: “Handcrafted Brutalism: The story of the Berkeley Library’s making in context”

Following the launch event, Ellen Rowley will reprise her talk on the origins and impact of the Berkeley Library for a wider audience, followed by a screening of Building for Books, the film produced in 1958 as part of a fundraising campaign for the new library.

The event is free, but booking in advance is essential.

Wikipedia workshop facilitated by Wikimedia Community Ireland

This workshop will explore the anatomy of the Wikipedia article and allow participants to develop the skills to edit and cite content effectively. Participants will also have the opportunity to contribute to the world’s largest online repository of knowledge through the creation of high-quality content about the Berkeley Library and other important cultural institutions.

Department of Philosophy lecture on Bishop George Berkeley

Kenneth Pearce, Ussher Assistant Professor in the Trinity College Dublin Philosophy Department, will deliver an engaging lecture on the life and ideas of one of Trinity’s most illustrious alumni whose philosophical output places him in the great Western canon.


Friends of the Library lecture: “Not just a building – not just a library”

Trevor Peare, former Keeper of Readers’ Services in the Library of Trinity College and long-standing champion of the Berkeley Library, offers an intimate portrayal of the building and its inner workings, life and magic.


Moog50: A collaboration with the Trinity College Department of Music

The Moog Synthesizer went into commercial production in 1967 quickly establishing itself as the archetype for synthesised sound. Using the raw concrete textures of the Berkeley Library as a backdrop, this event will explore 1960s inspired sonic and visual vistas through the use of analogue synthesizer performance techniques.


Samuel Beckett exhibition

In 1960 Samuel Beckett donated the proceeds of a tour of his play Krapp’s Last Tape to the Berkeley Library fundraising appeal. In August 2017, the Long Room will host a small exhibition of items from the Library’s Beckett collection to coincide with the annual Samuel Beckett Summer School. This display will highlight Beckett’s generosity to the Library and will include Krapp’s Last Tape materials.


From Box to Anti-Box: the Berkeley Library at 50

An exhibition at the Irish Architectural Archive curated by Donal Hickey.
Architecture Gallery of the Irish Architectural Archive.
Thursday 12 October 2017 to Friday 5 January 2018.

A Conversation with Paul Koralek


Open House 2017 tours of the building

The Berkeley Library will open to the public, offering a unique opportunity to explore its beautiful concrete textures and forms up close.


Beyond the Berkeley: Ireland and the Sixties

Carole Holohan, Department of History
Trinity Long Room Hub



An event to imagine what the future might hold for the Berkeley Library and academic libraries more generally.

And much more besides…

Main image: Architectural Press Archive/RIBA Collections.