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Update from Librarian and College Archivist to staff and students

18 January 2021

Dear staff and students,

A warm welcome from everyone in the Library to the new term, which is without doubt an exceptionally challenging start to the year.


For the first time, Library study spaces (Kinsella Hall and 1937 Reading Room) were open throughout the Christmas break, closing only on Christmas Day. I’d like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to the teams of stewards, to security staff, Estates & Facilities and IT Services staff for all their work over this period.

Current arrangements

Unusually, examinations started on 11th January instead of before Christmas. To support students, the contemporary libraries are currently open and information is detailed on the Library website together with information about ‘booking a seat’, or ‘a quick visit slot’. As a reminder, due to the increased restrictions on access to campus, you must present your Library booking confirmation email at the Lincoln Place or Nassau Street entrances. Services available include ‘Click and Collect’, ‘Scan on demand’, the online ‘Chat with us’ service on the Library website, as well as 1:1 virtual consultations with subject librarians

Changes to arrangements from 22nd January 2021

From the 22nd January, when Semester 1 examinations will have finished, there will be some changes to the arrangements in the Library. The aim is to balance provision for Library users, who need study space and access to the collections, with the health, safety and welfare of staff and students in light of the current Covid-19 situation. There will be a concentration of available library spaces, extra measures to minimise contact and more emphasis on self-service. For full details on the new arrangements see the Plan your visit  section on the Library website.

In summary

  • Kinsella Hall will be open as a study space 8am-10pm, 7 days per week, together with the Public Theatre (Examination Hall).
  • The 1937 Reading Room will be open 8am-10pm, 7 days per week, as a study space for postgraduates.
  • The Berkeley, Lecky, Ussher complex will be open in the afternoons for readers from 1-5pm, Monday to Friday.
  • The Hamilton Library and John Stearne Medical Library will close. Material from these libraries will remain available, requested via the ‘Click and Collect’ service.

Pre-booking is required for all spaces. A ‘Click and Collect’ service will be in operation each afternoon, Monday to Friday, from the Berkeley Library, and Scan on Demand, An Post deliveries and Book Bins for book returns are all available. For full details on these services see the Plan your visit webpage.

For full details on Library opening hours and to place bookings, please refer to the Library website. This is being kept under constant review as the national pandemic situation changes.

The Old Library Redevelopment Project

After receiving planning permission from Dublin City Council, the Old Library redevelopment Project is advancing through to Stage 2C i.e. detailed design and progressing enabling works for the programme. See Trinity Alumni ezine and Trinity Today 2020 .

The Library aims to keep collections available during the future construction phase and is therefore working now on plans for alternative reading and access facilities in the Ussher Library. Having an improved inventory of the collections that will move temporarily is a key enabling project which is underway. During the Spring lockdown many Library staff contributed to data conversion and in December a major achievement was the completion of the transfer of the 1872 Printed Catalogue records online. As a result c.165,000 items in the Long Room collections will be searchable online by researchers later this semester.

While we were unable to have the public launch of the new Book of Kells case and Treasury, we were happy that the Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht, Catherine Martin TD, and her husband Deputy Frances Noel Duffy TD came for a visit. In December, we were also very pleased to host An Taoiseach Micheál Martin TD for a visit to the Old Library. The Taoiseach spoke at his weekly press conference afterwards of ‘one of Ireland’s cultural jewels’. For more see Irish Independent RTÉ Television News [Scroll to 1;14]

Virtual Trinity Library

This semester we will be launching the ‘Virtual Trinity Library’, an ambitious digitisation project centred on the Library’s most prized collections across nine key themes. A centrepiece to the project is the Carnegie Corporation-funded conservation and digitisation of sixteen medieval manuscripts (including the internationally acclaimed Winchcombe Psalter and The Life of St Alban by Matthew Paris). The importance of Virtual Trinity Library for teaching, learning and research has been especially reinforced by the current pandemic, which has accelerated the digital transformation of the University and the Library.

Director’s Choice Uncut

The online ‘Director’s Choice Uncut’ was launched in December, giving a flavour of the extensive treasures in the Library and their fascinating history. The Library invites you to connect and be inspired by these diverse objects and their stories in this new expanded digital platform. Please join us in our ongoing social media campaign #TCDLibraryTreasures which reflects on an item each day. Our Irish diaspora have been especially enjoying it in Irish Central.

New Long Room Sculptures

The commissions for new sculptures of women scholars in the Long Room is advancing. The sculptures will celebrate the scientist Rosalind Franklin, the dramatist and theatre-founder, Augusta Gregory, the mathematician Ada Lovelace and the writer and pioneering women’s rights advocate Mary Wollstonecraft. See the Irish Times  and RTE Radio 1 Drivetime [scroll to .58].

Digital Collections and Digital Preservation

The Library and Trinity’s Digital Humanities Research Centre were successfully awarded a research grant from the Arts Humanities Research Council and Irish Research Council ‘UK-Ireland Collaboration in the Digital Humanities Networking Call’ to establish the IIIF4 Research Network in conjunction with research partners at the University of Glasgow, University of Durham and University of Wales. Its aim is to build a community of researchers, collection users and heritage professionals that will harness the potential of the International Image Interoperability Framework  (IIIF) for scholarly and public engagement with digital collections. The first of a series of virtual activities will take place next week on January 20th. Click for registration details.

The Beyond 2022: Ireland’s Virtual Record Treasury research project is creating an open-access virtual reconstruction of the Record Treasury of the Public Record of Ireland destroyed in 1922. It is an exemplar of digital preservation, whereby the long-term archiving of the digital outputs, and the sustainability of the project, are considered right at the beginning of the digital life cycle. Marking the conclusion of the three year ‘Out of the Ashes – the public lecture series between the project and the Trinity Long Room Hub − I am very honoured to be interviewing the Bodleian’s Librarian Richard Ovenden. We will explore the theme of his new publication Burning the Books (recently serialised on BBC Radio 4). Please join us in the spring for the event.

Meantime, I hope you keep safe and well. It remains an extremely difficult time, on so many levels for all of us. I am sure that you will join me in expressing my enormous appreciation to the frontline and service staff, guards, shelvers and stewards in the Library.

Wishing you, your family and friends all good wishes,

Helen Shenton

Helen Shenton FRSA, FIIC
Librarian and College Archivist