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   

Reopening of the Physical Library

As part of Trinity College Dublin’s overall plans for the resumption of activities the reopening of the physical Library and services will be phased and gradual. The safety of our staff and students will at all times remain our priority throughout this process.

“When we had to close the library buildings, we kept the Library open online and continued to provide students and staff with our Library services throughout COVID-19, including online services and virtual consultations. I am delighted that the reopening of the physical Library will now begin, starting on a modest scale, from the end of this month, culminating with virtually full access in August (with social distancing and other safety measures in place.) All of this will be complemented by a range of new online services starting on June 29th through to August. The overarching goal is the safe resumption of activity within the Library in a phased manner that enables access whilst protecting the health and safety of our readers and our Library staff.  We very much look forward to opening our doors once again to our readers,” says Librarian and College Archivist, Helen Shenton.

Continue reading “Reopening of the Physical Library”

Celebrating Irish Artist Harry Clarke

One of Ireland’s most renowned artists, Harry Clarke, is celebrated in the first of a series of Library online exhibitions which will be showcased in this extended period of self-isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Clarke Stained Glass Studios Collection is for anyone interested in 20th-century Irish art and craft as exemplified by the creative genius of the leading exponent of stained glass work, Harry Clarke.

Continue reading “Celebrating Irish Artist Harry Clarke”

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.

M&A and EPB Closed, Morning of 3 October

Both the Manuscripts & Archives, and Early Printed Books & Special Collections, Reading Rooms will be closed to readers on Thursday 3 October (from approximately 10:00-12:00). We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

M&A and EPB Closed, Morning of 8 August

Both the Manuscripts & Archives, and Early Printed Books & Special Collections, Reading Rooms will be closed to readers on Thursday 8 August (from approximately 10:00-11:30). We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Reduced Library Services

Due to stocktaking activities, all libraries will be closed on Saturday 27 July, Saturday 3 August and on Monday 5 August. The 24-hour spaces (Kinsella Hall and the 1937 Postgraduate Reading Room) will remain open. Requests from storage will be partially reduced – please contact Library staff for further details.

Normal Library services will resume on Tuesday 6 August 2019.