Celebrating Research at the Library

probe-research-night-landscape-posterThis year’s event promoting Trinity’s role in research took place on Friday 30 September at locations across campus – and the Library was well represented by involvement in four of the talks and presentations.

Probe was a free evening of music, talks, performance, films, food, experiments and workshops that explored the fascinating research that is shaping our world.

The Library was involved in the following events:

Hidden Histories: Researching the Treasures of the Library

Exhibition Area, Old Library, 5 – 7pm every half hour

Join Library experts in the exhibition area to discover how they research, interpret and conserve the treasures of the Library. Get an insight into the imagery, materials and techniques that were used to produce our most precious early manuscripts, such as the Book of Kells. Take a look down a microscope at the tell-tale characteristics of parchment and leather, and handle some of the raw materials used to create, and to conserve, the early book structures. Take a closer look at the detail and learn about the meanings hidden in the decoration.

Research in the Everything Library

Blackstone LaunchPad, Berkeley Library Foyer, 5 – 8pm every half hour

What does it mean to have the entire published universe of two jurisdictions, the UK and Ireland, at your fingertips? What kind of research is needed in order to help researchers navigate this universe? Come join us to experience the weird and wonderful depths of the Library’s modern collections. See how a book ends up in the catalogue; how researchers can read Library materials without ever setting foot in a library building; how electronic publications are collected; and how even transient web pages are captured for posterity. Friendly Library staff will be on hand to show and tell, to explore questions about the (digital) future and to discuss some of the possible answers.

Digital Repository and Imaging Service

Trinity Long Room Hub, 5 – 8pm

Explore the work of Trinity’s DRIS (Digital Resource & Imaging Service), a department dedicated to the development of digital library collections to support research, teaching and scholarship. The team at DRIS, in collaboration with Computer Science researchers, will be demoing a software app which displays resources about the Harry Clarke Studios from the DRIS Digital Collections database, provides geolocation information about the churches where the related stained glass windows can be  found (based on Ordinance Survey data), and maps out how to get there.

Reconstructing the Past

The Long Room, Old Library,  7 – 8pm

From meteor impacts to ancient scrolls, join us for a storytelling event in Trinity’s iconic Long Room that reveals the different ways researchers look to the past.

Featuring geologist Ian Sanders on reconstructing our planet’s ancient past, zoologist Nicola Marples on understanding the evolution of life, geneticist Dan Bradley on decoding humanity’s past by looking at our DNA, and our own Manuscripts & Archives Research Library curator Jane Maxwell on uncovering and protecting the artefacts of human culture.




Culture Night 2016

As with previous years, we’re delighted to be part of Cuture Night 2016, offering free entry to the Book of Kells Exhibition and the Long Room of the Old Library. Admission is free between 5 and 9, but numbers may be limited during that time to avoid overcrowding.

Also, Library staff member Beata Daly will be exhibiting some of her artwork in the newly-opened Abbey Studios on Marlborough Street, so please swing by if you are hitting the Northside’s attractions too!

Daily Talks in the Long Room – “Keeping the Books”

collonnadesWhat does ingrained dirt on books and ice hockey have in common? What is red rot and foxing? How long did it take Trinity College Dublin to acquire its first 100,000 books and how many books are added annually? Do people still read the books in the Old Library? How are the books in the library organized on the shelves? Where can you see every page of the Book of Kells? What subject matter is covered in the Library and how was the collection built over time? What are the greatest threats to a historical library and how do we protect the books?

L-R: Sandi Sexton, Heather Courtney, Nadja Delmonte & Sarah Timmins

Our Preservation Assistants. L-R: Sandi Sexton, Heather Courtney, Nadja Delmonte & Sarah Timmins

To learn the answers to all of these questions and more, come to the Long Room in the Old Library to hear the Preservation Assistants talk about keeping the collection of early printed books. The Preservation Assistants are part of an ongoing project, started in 2004, to systematically clean the over 220,000 books of the Old Library. We’ll walk you through the challenges of preserving an historic collection in a historic setting and explain how the books are cleaned and preserved for the future. Examples of books from the collection, dating from the invention of the printing press in the 15th century to the Victorian Era in the 19th century will be shown.

Talks run Monday to Friday at 10am, 12pm and 3pm until 18th November.

Alumni and current students can see the Book of Kells, access the Long Room, and attend these talks for free, with up to three guests.

Other visitors who have paid for entry to the Old Library are welcome to attend the Keeping the Books talks for no additional charge.

Text by Heather Courtney








Early Irish Manuscripts Project Shortlisted for Major Award

Some of you may already know about the Early Irish Manuscripts Project, a conservation, research and digitisation campaign focused on four of the Library’s most important early medieval insular Gospel Books funded by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Art Conservation Project.

We are delighted that the Bank of America, Merrill Lynch & Trinity College Dublin have been shortlisted for the Allianz Business to Arts Award 2016 for Best Large Sponsorship. The three other contenders are projects spearheaded by Sky, An Post and RTÉ, so keep your fingers crossed as the competition is tough!

The Awards will take place on Monday, September 19th 2016 at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre. Time to dust off our dinner jackets and ballgowns…

Old Library Maintains Full Accreditation with Museum Standards Programme of Ireland

MSPI - 16We are delighted that the Old Library of Trinity College Dublin has maintained full accreditation under the Museum Standards Programme of Ireland.

Awarded Full Accreditation in 2012 for the first time, the Assessor said that “as with the original application for Accreditation, the quality of the application and standards demonstrated during the site visit was extremely high, reflecting the continued professionalism and commitment of the staff at the Old Library.

“The Old Library is currently facing a future where they are responding to rapidly increasing visitor figures and audience expectations for digital access to collections, whilst balancing these drivers with the needs of a nationally important collection. The Old Library has continued to provide a high level of collections care and access in a challenging environment. In particular areas of work, particularly collections care, preservation and training, the work of the staff continues to exceed current best practice and stands as an exemplar of high quality stewardship.”

Susie Bioletti, Keeper of Preservation and Conservation, and Anne-Marie Diffley, Visitor Services Manager, accepted the award from Conor Newman, Chairman of the Heritage Council.

The Heritage Council’s main commitment to collections care comes through its support of the Museum Standards Programme for Ireland (MSPI). This important initiative, with participants from a wide range of Irish collecting institutions, sets out to raise standards of care across Irish museums and galleries.

This programme, the first of its kind in the Republic of Ireland, sets out to improve all aspects of Ireland’s museum practice. A voluntary programme, it has attracted involvement from across the cultural spectrum – from national institutions to small, volunteer-led organisations. It is complemented by a full training programme, with a targeted post-graduate museum course which is supported by the Heritage Council and delivered by the University of Ulster.

The Great War Revisited – Major New Online Exhibition, Partnered with Google Cultural Institute

A slide from the new exhibition

Rare and previously unpublished material held in the Library of Trinity College Dublin relating to WW1 will be brought to a global audience thanks to an online collaboration between Trinity and Google.


Segment from Six One News, June 30th 2015. Copyright Raidió Teilifís Éireann 2015.
Click to go to video.

The Great War Revisited exhibition was launched online on Tuesday, June 30th 2015 at the Google Cultural Institute. This exhibition features 60 exhibits of unique heritage material from Trinity’s rare books and manuscripts collections relating to the Great War, including recruiting posters, letters, diaries, photographs, videos, pamphlets and artworks.

These highlights from the Library’s rich and diverse collections of material relating to the First World War can now be easily accessed by anyone wherever they are in world, right from their computer, tablet or phone. The Great War Revisited is Trinity’s first collaboration with Google Cultural Institute, which partners with more than 800 institutions – museums, libraries, art galleries and archives – around the world. The platform hosts over 170,000 artworks and a total of 6 million photos, videos, manuscripts and other documents of art, culture and history, to make important cultural material available and accessible to everyone.

Highlights of the exhibition include:

  • Trinity’s celebrated collection of Irish WWI recruiting posters (one of the largest collection in existence)
  • Previously unpublished photographs of the Allied campaign in Iraq and Turkey
  • Letters and diaries from Irish soldiers serving in France, Iraq and Palestine (previously unpublished)
  • A multitude of political pamphlets, songs and ballads and artworks

Commenting on the launch of the online exhibition Helen Shenton, Librarian and College Archivist, said: “The Library of Trinity College Dublin is delighted to be partnering with Google Cultural Institute on the Great War Revisited online exhibition. Showcasing the richness of First World War material held in the Library, the online exhibition forms part of the Library’s commitment to opening up its historic collections for global online access.”

The exhibition is part of the Library’s contribution to the Trinity College Dublin Decade of Commemoration initiative which includes lectures and conferences and a rededication of the Hall of Honour later this year.

History Books in the Anglo-Norman World – Online Exhibition

History Books in the Anglo-Norman World ExhibitionThe Library presents a mini online exhibition to highlight our collection of Anglo-Norman histories. This follows the History Books in the Anglo-Norman World Conference in May 2015 and a mini exhibition in the Long Room, organised as part of Dr Laura Cleaver’s History Books in the Anglo-Norman World Project (2011-2015).

The past was a popular subject in the Anglo-Norman world. Following the conquest of England in 1066, historians in the territories controlled by the kings of England sought to legitimise the new regime and make sense of the political circumstances in which they found themselves by exploring both the recent and distant past. Writers used a range of precedents in shaping their accounts, drawing on sources including the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, histories of the dukes of Normandy, and genealogical histories derived from the Bible. Although some works composed in the early twelfth century were primarily designed for use within a particular monastery, others, such as the histories produced by monks John at Worcester and William at Malmesbury, were widely copied and taken up by later generations of writers including Ralph of Diss and Matthew Paris. The surviving ‘history books’ vary significantly in size, format, quality of materials used and decoration. The study of these manuscripts thus sheds light on both the creation and reception of history in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

Trinity College Dublin holds an important collection of Anglo-Norman histories, most of which came from the collection of Archbishop James Ussher (d. 1656). Ussher was a keen collector of manuscripts, and his interest in history was linked to his attempt to establish the date of Creation, which he famously concluded must have taken place in 4004 BC. Ussher’s collection was given to Trinity College Library in 1661.

‘Changed Utterly – Ireland and the Easter Rising’, Project Launch, 24 April 2015

1916 Easter Rising Project Launch

Pictured at the Project Launch L to R:
Shane Mawe, Assistant Librarian; Helen Shenton, Librarian & College Archivist; Estelle Gittins, Assistant Librarian

‘Changed Utterly – Ireland and the Easter Rising’ is a weekly series of 52 blog posts which focuses on the Easter Rising and its impact on Ireland.

The project will draw on the rich and diverse collections of 1916 material held in the Research Collections departments of Trinity College Library including diary extracts, letters, pamphlets, newspaper clippings, photographs, and even pieces of clothing. The Research Collections departments comprise of the Manuscripts and Archives Research Library (M&ARL), the Department of Early Printed Books and Special Collections, the Glucksman Map Library and the Music Library.

Launched on Friday 24 April 2015, the aim is to showcase the breadth of our collections related to 1916 and this period of unrest in Ireland’s history. It is hoped that the project will act as a catalyst for research and engage the public ahead of the centenary anniversary in April 2016.

Blog posts are written by the staff in the aforementioned Library departments, and occasionally by Trinity College academics and other experts in the period.

Click here to view the blog.
Follow the project on Twitter: @TCDLib1916

Lighten Up – TCD’s Trinity Week & the Library

Three roses set in a starburst pattern

Three roses set in a starburst pattern.
IE TCD MS 11182-106. Stained glass panel by Terence Clarke (1917-1968), part of the Clarke Stained Glass Studios Collection.

The Faculty of Engineering, Mathematics and Science is hosting this year’s programme of events for Trinity Week which commences on Saturday 11th April. The theme for the week is ‘Light’ which coincides with 2015 being declared the International Year of Light by UNESCO. This week-long programme will include exciting events which demonstrate the roles light, in all its forms, plays and how it affects and enhances life.

The Library is involving itself in this programme, under the prompting of the Keeper of Preservation and Conservation, by staging a number of events on the theme of light, interpreting the word perhaps more metaphorically than scientifically, and being all the more interesting for that.

Harry Clarke, for example, used light as part of his palette and his role in Irish cultural history will be acknowledged by the installation of a reproduction, from the Harry Clarke Studios archives, in one of the windows of the Trinity Long Room Hub. The image chosen is a glorious drawing of three roses set in a starburst.

The Library has also interpreted the theme in the sense of ‘illuminary – that which illuminates’, recognising that the work the Library does lights up the research mission of the College. Images from the Library’s historic collections in the Manuscripts & Archives Research Library and the Department of Early Printed Books and Special Collections will therefore be projected onto the wall above the Nassau Street Entrance and also above the entrance to the Berkeley.

Taking the metaphorical use of the word ‘light’ and allying it with the centenary of the First World War inspired another Library installation planned for Trinity Week; ‘The lamps have gone out all over Europe. We will not see them lit again in our lifetime’ – a resonant phrase dating from the eve of the First World War which was understood from the beginning as a threat to enlightened civilization. The centenary of the War will be acknowledged with the projection, onto the East face of the 1937 Reading Room, of the names and portraits of the Trinity engineers and medics who fell.

All of the images being projected are accessible through our Digital Collections.

Early Printed Books and M&ARL will take a bit of liberty with the word ‘light’ again in the titles of their exhibition and blog (respectively) which will be curated/posted to coincide with events: ‘…and there was light’ is the title of a small exhibition, curated by EPB in the Berkeley foyer, which explores the theme through texts on religion, science and literature. ‘Throwing a bit of light on the subject’ is the punningly clever title of the M&ARL blog post which will provide a round-up of the Library’s involvement for the M&ARL audience.

Why not check out the website for all relevant projects within Trinity Week?