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”

Honouring the pioneering work of Professor M.L. Colker

Illuminating the Middle Ages which showcases the treasure trove of medieval Latin manuscripts in the Library is this week’s choice of exhibition in the online exhibition series. Professor M.L Colker who created the first comprehensive catalogue of the Library’s medieval Latin manuscript collection sadly passed away last week. We pay tribute to his pioneering work by revisiting this exhibition curated in his honour.

In the 1950s, Marvin ‘Mark’ Colker of the University of Virginia embarked on the Herculean task of cataloguing this collection, comprising around 450 manuscripts.Over the course of 30 years, Colker made regular visits to Dublin, spending long hours working tirelessly in the manuscripts reading room at the Library. His dedication resulted in the publication of Trinity College Dublin Library: Descriptive Catalogue of the Medieval and Renaissance Latin Manuscripts (Dublin, 1991), fondly referred to as the ‘Colker Catalogue’. His ground-breaking work is the cornerstone for any project or research based on the Latin manuscripts.

By way of tribute, an exhibition entitled Illuminating the Middle Ages showcases the diversity of material made accessible to researchers through Colker’s commitment and expertise. The online exhibition features vividly illuminated psalters, a vibrantly decorated Book of Hours, a handbook for classical learning and a thirteenth-century copy of Peter Lombard’s Sentences. It also includes images from the Book of Armagh, the sumptuously decorated Dublin Apocalypse, as well as a unique handbook for confessors.

Colker’s work was also honoured with the publication of a special edition of Hermathena: a Trinity College Dublin Review — the Department of Classics’ journal which has been published without interruption since 1873. The special issue of Hermathena was edited by Anna Chahoud, Professor of Latin.

The collection, entitled Fabellae Dublinenses Revisited and other Essays in Honour of Marvin Colker, includes essays by scholars from Trinity College (John Scattergood, Edward McParland, Anna Chahoud) and abroad (Thomas Smith, Ernesto Stagni, Giulio Vannini, Ornella Rossi, Silverio Franzoni). The collection of essays gives special attention to the text known, after Colker’s discovery in TCD MS 602, as ‘Petronius Redivivus’. The studies partly engage with Colker’s pioneering research on select Latin manuscripts (MS 602, MS 632) and partly offer a complementary tribute to the extraordinary value of Trinity Library collections for literary, historical and architectural inquiries (MS 115, MS 496, Fagel Collections I.1.95).

Dublin Apocalypse, folio 3v (Early 14th century)

Your Library, Your Views

Library Pop Art

We’re running a short survey to help us understand your experiences of the Library. As a thank you, we will enter you into a draw to win prizes including Trinity Ball tickets, TCard credit and more.

Your views will help us to better appreciate all of our users’ needs and provide valuable insights to enable us to develop responsive services for the future. The survey will take about fifteen minutes to complete. The closing date is 14 December.

Get started here!

The Library Life Pulse survey is being administered by an independent research agency called Alterline, you can view their GDPR policy online.

If you have any queries about this survey, please contact us at library@tcd.ie.

All personal data collected by the University will be processed according to the College Privacy Notice.

 

“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.

“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!


Celebrating Research at the Library

probe-research-night-landscape-posterThis year’s event promoting Trinity’s role in research took place on Friday 30 September at locations across campus – and the Library was well represented by involvement in four of the talks and presentations.

Probe was a free evening of music, talks, performance, films, food, experiments and workshops that explored the fascinating research that is shaping our world.

The Library was involved in the following events:

Hidden Histories: Researching the Treasures of the Library

Exhibition Area, Old Library, 5 – 7pm every half hour

Join Library experts in the exhibition area to discover how they research, interpret and conserve the treasures of the Library. Get an insight into the imagery, materials and techniques that were used to produce our most precious early manuscripts, such as the Book of Kells. Take a look down a microscope at the tell-tale characteristics of parchment and leather, and handle some of the raw materials used to create, and to conserve, the early book structures. Take a closer look at the detail and learn about the meanings hidden in the decoration.

Research in the Everything Library

Blackstone LaunchPad, Berkeley Library Foyer, 5 – 8pm every half hour

What does it mean to have the entire published universe of two jurisdictions, the UK and Ireland, at your fingertips? What kind of research is needed in order to help researchers navigate this universe? Come join us to experience the weird and wonderful depths of the Library’s modern collections. See how a book ends up in the catalogue; how researchers can read Library materials without ever setting foot in a library building; how electronic publications are collected; and how even transient web pages are captured for posterity. Friendly Library staff will be on hand to show and tell, to explore questions about the (digital) future and to discuss some of the possible answers.

Digital Repository and Imaging Service

Trinity Long Room Hub, 5 – 8pm

Explore the work of Trinity’s DRIS (Digital Resource & Imaging Service), a department dedicated to the development of digital library collections to support research, teaching and scholarship. The team at DRIS, in collaboration with Computer Science researchers, will be demoing a software app which displays resources about the Harry Clarke Studios from the DRIS Digital Collections database, provides geolocation information about the churches where the related stained glass windows can be  found (based on Ordinance Survey data), and maps out how to get there.

Reconstructing the Past

The Long Room, Old Library,  7 – 8pm

From meteor impacts to ancient scrolls, join us for a storytelling event in Trinity’s iconic Long Room that reveals the different ways researchers look to the past.

Featuring geologist Ian Sanders on reconstructing our planet’s ancient past, zoologist Nicola Marples on understanding the evolution of life, geneticist Dan Bradley on decoding humanity’s past by looking at our DNA, and our own Manuscripts & Archives Research Library curator Jane Maxwell on uncovering and protecting the artefacts of human culture.

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