As a new term begins, for some it is the beginning of a new life, or at least a new chapter. This can be such an exciting time, but we understand how daunting it can be, too. So we thought we’d tell you a bit about the Early Printed Books and Special Collections reading room and what you can expect when you visit us.
First of all, we would like to dispel the myth that undergraduates are not allowed to use the reading room. Not only are you allowed, you are positively encouraged to do so. Nothing beats seeing and handling an original text in its binding, and EVERYBODY with a Trinity College Dublin ID card or an external reader’s ticket is welcome. Your lecturer may even arrange a class visit.
We have a small reference section in the reading room, but most of our material is kept in closed access Stacks and must be requested in advance of your consultation. If the catalogue tells you to ‘use call slip’, this means you need to fill in a green docket and hand it in at a library counter – preferably ours so that we have a record of your request and can tell you how soon you can expect delivery. If there is a ‘storage request’ button in the catalogue record, you can request the item online and you will receive an email when it has reached the counter.
As much of the material in our care is very old or very valuable, we need to look after the books for future generations of readers. Bags, and especially food and drink, must be placed in the lockers at the entrance. Laptops are welcome in the reading room, but written notes must be in pencil (which you can borrow from us if you don’t remember to bring one). We provide book cradles to support the spines and boards, and strips of weights to hold the pages open. No, you don’t need to wear white gloves! In fact, it is very difficult to turn pages safely with gloves on, so clean hands are much more effective.
Please visit the Early Printed Books and Special Collections website and follow @TCDResearchColl on Twitter, but most of all, please come and use the reading room. We are not fire-breathing dragons, nor fierce creatures who bite (although both can be found in our collections!) and staff will be delighted to see you and give you whatever help we can.