Dublin City Council gives greenlight to  redevelopment plans for the Old Library

Dublin City Council has granted planning permission to Trinity College Dublin’s conservation and redevelopment plans for the Old Library, home to the magnificent Long Room and precious manuscripts, including the Book of Kells. This follows last month’s historic unveiling of the new Book of Kells Treasury and display which forms the first component of these redevelopment plans.

As one of the great libraries of the world, the Old Library is one of Ireland’s iconic treasures, and a globally recognised cultural landmark. It combines heritage and scholarship in its unique dual role as a world-class library and a national cultural institution.

Its precious collections, spanning millennia have been in the care of the Library of Trinity College Dublin for over 400 years. But it now faces significant conservation and environmental challenges. External pollution and dust accumulation are taking their toll on the collections and the fabric of the Old Library building. There is a need to modernise environmental control and fire protection measures. Recent fires in similar heritage sites across the globe provide stark warnings.

This ambitious redevelopment project will draw on the best 21st-century design and technology to safeguard the Old Library building and conserve its precious collections for future generations. It includes urgent structural and environmental upgrades; and the redevelopment of facilities in line with the best library and museum experiences around the world. The award-winning architects Heneghan Peng who successfully conserved and revitalised the National Gallery of Ireland are leading a world-class design team in this transformative development.

Commenting on Dublin City Council’s decision,  Provost, Dr Patrick Prendergast said:

“We are delighted that Dublin City Council has granted planning permission to our conservation and redevelopment plans. Last month’s unveiling of the new Book of Kells Treasury and display saw the first phase of these ambitious redevelopment plans. They are essential in order for this national heritage building to continue in its unique dual role as a world-class library and a national cultural institution that is an international visitor destination. Safeguarding and renovating the Old Library building and its treasures, is vital for the preservation and promotion of European culture and heritage for the future.”

Librarian and College Archivist, Helen Shenton said:

“We take our role as stewards of The Old Library very seriously. Its rare and important works have inspired generations of students, academics and visitors. This is a critically important redevelopment project that will safeguard it for future generations. It will enable us to both conserve this magnificent 18th building and its collections, as well as make it more accessible to our scholars and public in an historic building reinterpreted for the 21st century.”

 Central to the redevelopment plans will be the conservation and protection of the 18th century building, and its precious manuscripts and research collections. It will include the development of a new state-of-the art Research Collections Study Centre for students and scholars both nationally and the world over. It will also re-envision the Library’s treasures with a one-of-a-kind immersive exhibition.

Conservation of the Old Library and its historic collections

The Old Library currently houses 350,000 early printed books, and 20,000 manuscript and archive collections which have been collected over the course of 400 years.  The university proposes to upgrade environmental controls and fire protection measures while protecting and conserving the architectural character of the protected structure.

Similar to renovation projects at the National Gallery of Ireland and the National Library of Ireland, Trinity’s Old Library redevelopment plans is addressing these necessary 21st century upgrades through an integrated and holistic design and planning process.

Research Collections Study Centre for students and scholars

Academic activities will remain at the heart of the Old Library, and the Long Room will continue to be at the heart of a fully functioning library.  A new Research Collections Study Centre will provide national and international scholars with a secure, accessible, and inspiring environment to intimately study the unique and distinct collections. Located in the beautifully colonnaded ground floor, the Study Centre will overlook Library Square, one of the original historic courtyards at Trinity College.  

In parallel, a Virtual Trinity Library is also planned which will provide digital access to the unique and distinct collections of the Library across the world.

 A reimagined Treasures Exhibition

Last month saw the unveiling of the new Book of Kells Treasury and display which forms the first component of the redevelopment plans. This will be developed further in a new Book of Kells exhibition re-interpreting the precious manuscript to respond to increasingly diverse and engaged visitors.   It will showcase the manuscript’s history, making and symbolism in a new gallery. The redesign of the exhibition by world renowned Opera Amsterdam and Studio Louter will guide visitors on an immersive journey that places the manuscript in the context of Europe, Ireland, and Trinity College.

New visitor facilities, orientation and public spaces

The current visitor entrance in the Old Library will be relocated to a new more welcoming entrance and exit via the Berkeley Podium, which is located adjacent to the Berkeley Library. At the same time, the current retail facility will be relocated to the Berkeley Podium, alongside visitor amenities and space for rotating exhibitions. In its totality, the project supports and enhances both public access and academic scholarship in the Library.

Heneghan Peng principal, Róisín Heneghan concluded: “Buildings that last, like the Old Library, are those that allow changing lives to find a place within. The Old library has undergone transformations as the University has changed. The Long Room is the heart of the Old Library, with this project the clarity of its linear spatiality is restored while the pavilions provide the supporting spaces of a university library. The project highlights the Old Library’s position between the different characters of Library Square and Fellows’ Square making strategic interventions to allow the Old library to continue to be a space of knowledge and study for the 21st century student while welcoming visitors to share its stories.”

The Old Library Redevelopment Project will conserve and safeguard the Old Library and its world-class collections by:

  • Implementing urgent structural and environmental upgrades.
  • Foster scholarship with a state-of-the art Research Collections Study Centre for the Library’s world-class collections.
  • Increase access to the Library’s treasures in an enhanced exhibition space.
  • Create an immersive gallery that will re-envision the Book of Kells exhibition.
  • Align it with the best scholarly and museum experiences around the world.
  • Enhance Fellows’ Square as one of Dublin’s premier civic spaces.
  • Ensure universal access for visitors, scholars, and the College community.

 

For more details, see Old Library Redevelopment Project website   

Welcome from the Library of Trinity College Dublin

 A very warm welcome to all students, academics, researchers and staff. An especial welcome to the first year students who are joining us in such extraordinary times − we wish you every success in the University, as you rise to the challenges of Trinity’s Graduate Attributes of ‘thinking independently’ and ‘acting responsibly’. The Library is here to help you think independently.

Library staff are here to assist you with virtual consultations, skills workshops and many services. Watch out for Library HITS (Helpful Information for Trinity Students/Staff) our interdisciplinary taster sessions, co-delivered with Student Learning & Development, covering everything from getting started with the Library, to academic integrity and critical thinking. We’ve recently been proud to partner with Disability Student Ambassadors to deliver small-group tours for students with sensory disabilities, which is helping us better understand how to improve the Library experience for all students.

Library staff are not only very knowledgeable about Trinity’s extensive resources but are extremely savvy about other external sources of information. During lockdown, when there was no physical access to the buildings, Library staff displayed extraordinary ingenuity in helping readers get alternative access to information. Please contact us via live chat on the Library website, email Library@tcd.ie and a Library staff member will get back to you, or contact your Subject Librarian directly. Our New Students page has everything you need to get started.

COVID update

On lockdown in March, the Library accelerated online access to material and increased e-resources. Since June, the Library has reopened all the buildings in phases and has created several new services from scratch. These include ‘Click & Collect’, ‘Scan on Demand’, and retrieval and delivery of Library material across Ireland via An Post.

Under the current COVID-19 Level 3, all the libraries are open. Today, 5th October, a new booking system for the Berkeley, Lecky, Ussher, Hamilton and John Stearne Medical libraries and the 1937 Postgraduate Reading Room begins. Full details are online of all the opening hours and the booking system. Please note that face coverings are mandatory in the Library at all times, along with all other COVID-19 health and safety protocols, including two-metre social distancing and a ‘keep right’ policy.

The Library has been very active over the last six months in building an archive reflecting the TCD community’s experience of living with a pandemic. We are shortly going to invite students to add to this archive by giving us their impressions of student life under the new arrangements. There will be prizes!

E-resources

The Library purchases e-journals, e-books and databases to support your learning and research. Our off-campus access page provides information and tools to ensure you can access these resources seamlessly.

This year, transformative Open Access agreements were negotiated through the IReL Consortium which will allow for the publication of articles by authors from member institutions on an open access basis at no additional cost. The IReL Consortium (Irish Research e-Library) provides Irish higher education institutions, including Trinity, with access to over 40,000 e-journals and other information resources. The first of these transformative agreements was signed with the global scientific and health publisher Elsevier to support open access for research in Ireland.

ORCID

In a joint initiative between the Dean of Research and the Library, Trinity has joined the Irish ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID) Consortium, which is part of a co-ordinated approach to the adoption and integration of ORCID services and resources in Ireland, directed by the Higher Education Authority.

Every researcher has free access to, and use of, an ORCID ID linked to a personal ORCID research profile. As a unique, lifelong digital identifier, a researcher’s ORCID ID reliably connects them with their works, awards, affiliations; it alleviates mistaken identity; each researcher owns and controls their record; it saves time as the information is ‘entered once and reused often’ and further integrates ORCID with Trinity’s Research Support System. We would encourage academic and research staff and students to use their unique ORCID ID, see full details and ORCID registration.

Open Scholarship

Over the last year ‘Unboxing Open Scholarship’, an initiative of the Taskforce on Open Scholarship, welcomed over 750 people to 12 events on subjects ranging from Citizen Science to Research Impact & Evaluation in an Open Scholarship era, to ‘Curing the Pathologies of Academic Publishing’ with the co-founder of PLOS (Public Library of Science).

Our final events are shifting online. On October 8th 2020, we will be joined by Professor Margot Finn, President of the Royal Historical Society (RHS) and University College London’s Chair in Modern British History, for a webinar jointly hosted with Trinity Long Room Hub, on ‘Open Scholarship in the Humanities’. On October 15th, Gareth O’Neill, Open Science Consultant at the Technopolis Group will explore the role of researchers in the European Open Science Cloud.

The aims of the Taskforce on Open Scholarship were to take the temperature of how far Trinity should go along the road to Open Scholarship (what is obligatory? where do we actively follow? where do we lead?); to determine the scope of Open Scholarship (including Open Access and Citizen Science); and to identify steps and cultural change, including by curating events such as ‘Unboxing Open Scholarship’. The recommendations will shortly be presented to help advance the strategic objective in the University’s Strategic Plan 2020-2025, namely to ‘Lead on Open Scholarship and promote Open Access publication’.

 New Treasury and Book of Kells display case and the Old Library Redevelopment Project

A recent highlight has been the re-opening of the newly refurbished Treasury and Book of Kells display case. The Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht, Catherine Martin TD, joined by her husband, Deputy Francis Noel Duffy, visited the new Treasury earlier this month, and we publicly launched the new Treasury – see Morning Ireland, RTE Radio 1; RTE 1 Television One O’clock News; 6.01 News  (Scroll to  17.34 ); RTE News YouTubeRTE online; BBC Evening Extra (scroll to 1.49), Irish Times hardcopy & online version; Irish Independent hardcopy & online; and Irish Central  – among others.

When COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, please arrange to visit the Book of Kells in its stunning new display case, by emailing the Visitor Services Team bookofkells@tcd.ie who will organise a ticket.

The new Treasury is the first step of the Old Library Redevelopment Project, one of the major capital projects of Inspiring Generations – The Campaign for Trinity College Dublin. The Old Library Redevelopment Project is a very significant undertaking to conserve and protect the Old Library and its collections, to create a new Research Collections Study Centre, and to create a new exhibition, temporary display space and new visitor facilities. The integrated design, by the award-winning architects Heneghan Peng, was approved by Board in the summer to apply for planning permission to Dublin City Council.

Virtual Trinity Library

This coming year will also see progress on components of the Library’s second capital programme, the digital corollary to the Old Library project, namely the ‘Virtual Trinity Library’. By digitising the Library’s vast unique and distinct collections, we aim to create a new research entity that is open for the world. Funding has been secured from the Dutch Government to start the Fagel Collection Project in collaboration with the Royal Library of the Netherlands, and inaugural activities and events will start in the autumn.

As part of the flagship Virtual Trinity Library programme, the Library’s digitised collections will be made available in the new Digital Collections repository. We invite you to explore some of our more well-known treasures as well as many hidden gems in all their magnificent detail on this new platform.

And finally

A library is many things. It is both virtual and physical. Mary Beard recently described a library as ‘really, really edgy’ saying that ‘what is on the shelves is incendiary’. The Bodleian Librarian Richard Ovenden’s recently published Burning Books is a harsh reminder of the symbolism and political threat that libraries can represent. The library as physical sanctuary was brutally reinforced during lockdown.

When we had to close, the role of the Library as a safe oasis, with very good connectivity, conducive to study in the maelstrom of noise and worry, came sharply into focus. I was incredibly moved by the accounts of the plights of, for example, postgraduates and their descriptions of the Library as a haven where they could think and concentrate.

Whichever version of the virtual and/or physical Library you use, I wish you every success in the coming academic year.

 

Helen Shenton

Librarian & College Archivist

EPB Reading Room – Temporary Move to the Map Library from 4 November

As part of overall conservation and preservation plans for the Old Library, the display area for the Book of Kells is undergoing necessary works which will require the removal of the manuscript from November 4th until March, 2020.

Regrettably during this period we anticipate some disruption to the Early Printed Books Reading Room, due to noise caused by ongoing works. Readers will be accommodated in the Map Library, in the basement of the Ussher Library, from the afternoon of Monday November 4th for at least two weeks. We will keep you updated on the Library news page, the Early Printed Books opening hours webpage and the Research Collections twitter account.

We apologise for any inconvenience and disruption caused.

History of the Book in the Early Modern Period: 1450-1800: Trinity’s Free Online Course

Following on from Trinity College Dublin’s highly successful FutureLearn course on the ‘Book of Kells’, this course on the ‘History of the Book in the Early Modern Period: 1450-1800’ aims to share the rich resources of the Long Room of Trinity College Dublin and the Edward Worth Library, Dublin, with learners interested in the history of the book. Many of these resources have been newly digitized for this course and uncover this fascinating time of innovation and social change.

Now members of the public around the world can explore how books were made, bought, sold, and read, in a four-week online course. The History of the Book in the Early Modern Period: 1450-1800 course starts on November 18th, 2019, and is run in partnership with FutureLearn, the social learning platform. The free online course is aimed at anyone with an interest in the history of the printed book, the early modern book trade, the history of reading, the history of bookbinding, and the interaction between print and social change in early modern Europe.

Librarian of the Edward Worth Library Elizabethanne Boran, and one of the course designers commented: “This MOOC course is our way of sharing our wonderful collections with as many people as possible. Trinity College Dublin and the Edward Worth Library have thousands of books which bring to life the early modern period in the West. For this course we have digitized images from these books so that learners will be able to explore this fascinating period from every corner of the world.”

Learners will investigate rare treasures such as the engravings of Anthony Van Dyck, early editions of Aesop’s Fables and the bestselling Nuremberg Chronicle. Frontispieces, title pages, annotations, printers’ devices, and many more parts of the book are examined from this period. At the end of the course, learners will be able to describe how the early modern book trade operated, and understand how the invention of the printing press changed religious, scientific, medical and political views of the world.

The Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) has been designed by academics from the School of Histories and Humanities, the School of English, and the Librarian of the Edward Worth Library, Dublin, with assistance from the staff of the Library of Trinity College Dublin and the Edward Worth Library, Trinity’s Digital Collections and Trinity Online Services CLG.

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

A Preservation Assistant at work
A Preservation Assistant at work

What challenges and risks do the books in the Old Library face every day and how do we ‘keep’ the books? What is red rot and what does foxing and acid books mean?

What measures do we take so that library visitors can continue to enjoy and use special collections in the future? Why do we clean books, and what is the dirt? What are Smoke Sponges, Backuums and unbleached cotton tape?

How has the Old Library building changed over the years since 1712? What type of books do we have in the Long Room and when were they made? How many books are there and how have the collections grown over the years?

To learn the answers to all of these questions and more, come to the Long Room in the Old Library to hear about keeping the collection of early printed books. The Preservation Assistants are part of an ongoing project, started in 2004, to systematically clean the 220,000+ books of the Old Library. The Preservation Assistants will explain 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 15th century to the 19th century will be shown.

Occasionally, other staff from the Preservation & Conservation Department may speak about preservation activities in the Old Library.

Talks run Monday to Friday at 3pm until 28 June 2019 and last 15-20 minutes.

Want to know more? Sarah Timmins, one of our former Preservation Assistants, has written a great piece on how our precious books in the Long Room are repaired.

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.

Library Closed due to Ophelia


The Library will be closed Monday 16th October due to the Status Red wind warning for Ireland issued by Met Eireann. The closure covers all reading rooms and Library buildings, including our 24-hour study areas and Library facilities outside the main campus.

Stay safe! Normal service is expected to resume on Tuesday 17th October.

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

What 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?

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 220,000+ books of the Old Library. They’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 3pm until 18th August and last 20 minutes.

Want to know more? Sarah Timmins, one of our current Preservation Assistants, has written a great piece on how our precious books in the Long Room are repaired.

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.

Original text by Heather Courtney.

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New Book – Early Irish Gospel Books in the Library of Trinity College Dublin

Hot off the printing press and just in time for Christmas is a beautifully little book that provides an overview of the Library’s early Irish gospel books.

The Library of Trinity College Dublin possesses seven early Irish gospel books, dating from the 7th – 9th centuries and possibly earlier, of which the Book of Kells is the most famous. This book outlines what is known about how these manuscripts were made, including recent scientific research on the pigments used by their makers. It explores who might have been responsible for their creation, and the type of environment in which they worked. The different formats of the books, and the nature of their ornament yield some clues as to how they were originally intended to be used, while various interventions – from added lines of text, to forged signatures, to particular patterns of damage – provide glimpses into the stories of their survival. The book is lavishly illustrated with many photographs published here for the first time.

The book is available in the Library shop (with the usual staff discount), and via email from nphelan@tcd.ie.

Susan Bioletti and Rachel Moss, Early Irish Gospel Books in the Library of Trinity College Dublin, (Trinity College Dublin, 2016), pp 97; ills 71. ISBN 978-1-911566-00-7. €10

The Book of Kells from the RTÉ Archives, 1989

The Book of Kells is obviously one of the best-known treasures of the Library, so it’s always nice to see it mentioned by the media.

This gem from 1989 is from the “teenage entertainment show” Jo-Maxi, and discusses how the Book of Kells was reproduced for printed facsimile copies – the images taken then are what formed the basis of the later DVD, app and online versions.

The Librarian of the time being interviewed, Peter Fox, is the author of Trinity College Library Dublin: A History.

Enjoy!