In 1958, the fundraising campaign to start raising the capital necessary to construct a new library began in earnest, with a public launch on 15 July in the Long Room. This led to the release of the promotional film, Building for Books, in theatres. It’s not often a film about libraries makes it to the cinema, but this managed it.
The snippet above shows some of the most pertinent scenes involving the Library, but it’s a great slice of 1950s Trinity nostalgia throughout.
There are now six legal deposit libraries that have a mandate to collect British published works, with the National Library of Wales gaining that right (which previously only extended to works in the Welsh language and English material relating to Wales), in 1987.
J.V. Luce, writing in Trinity College Dublin: The First 400 Years, gives an excellent account of how the film came to be:
“…a project for a film, first suggested by a committee in London (of which R.E. McGuire, brother-in-law of the Provost, was a most active secretary) was put in hand. The first outdoor sequences were shot in a brilliantly fine Trinity Week, with indoor work scheduled for the autumn. The film, entitled ‘Building for Books’, turned out to be a great success, with the camerawork ably directed by Vincent Corcoran, and a lively and sensitive script written by R.B.D. French. It won a certificate of commendation at the Cork Film Festival, and was later taken up for general release by the Rank Organisation. Cinema audiences all over the British Isles and further afield were given an impressive glimpse of Trinity and its great Library, and the film, when shown at graduate gatherings, had remarkable power to evoke happy memories and to open purse strings.”