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Library life in black and white

Recently on Twitter there has been a library challenge: 7 black & white photographs of , no humans, no explanations. We (@TCDResearchColl – are you following us?) were challenged originally by the Royal Irish Academy Library (@Library_RIA) and subsequently by Waterford Institute of Technology Libraries (@witlibraries). We thought our blog followers might like to see the photographs we posted, perhaps with explanations this time, although most of them speak for themselves.

Looking back over the 7 days, I find there were, in fact, 8! Day 4 occurred twice (with my holiday in between) and I tweeted the same photograph on two occasions (not the two Day 4s!). Either no-one was paying close attention or our followers were too kind to say that I am indeed a Twit!

Our first post of the week was a picture of the Long Room in 1860, when it was still a library reading room, taken from The book of Trinity College Dublin, 1591-1891, of which there are three copies in the library. The shelfmark of the EPB copy is OLS X-4-115.

I was greatly amused one day when a well-respected visiting Professor asked me if he could have another look at ‘that big, dirty book I had yesterday’. (I did clean it before he looked at it, but couldn’t resist taking a photograph first!)

This photograph shows correct use of the reading room – paper and pencil for taking notes; no liquids or any other extraneous material near your desk; using the supports provided to take care of the book’s spine and a ‘snake weight’ to hold the page open.

James Ussher (1581-1656) was, successively, a Fellow of TCD, Professor of Divinity here, and Bishop of Meath, before becoming Archbishop of Armagh. He collected books and manuscripts both for himself and for the College Library, and his own joined the latter after his death. The books are housed together at the east end of the Long Room.

The harp was donated to the College in 1782 and has been displayed in the Long Room on and off since the nineteenth century. Although legend says it belonged to Brian Boru, who was High King in the eleventh century, it is actually about 300 years too recent for that to be true, but even so, it is the oldest harp in Ireland.

In addition to our own Tweets, we were to challenge seven more libraries to do the same. In response, Flinders University Library in Adelaide, South Australia (@FlindersLib) posted one photograph with the comment “Personally, much prefer a library with people. No point otherwise.” which is a perfectly valid point of view, although we are rather fond of the Long Room when it is quite empty. Anyway, here is one picture with lots of people admiring our beautiful library, taken on Culture Night last year.

All photographs except the one from the Tercentenary book were taken by me and converted to black and white using Adobe Photoshop CS4.

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