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Digitising Cultural Heritage Collections: Lessons Learned and Forging Ahead

A seminar organised by the Library of Trinity College Dublin and the Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL).

The Library of Trinity College Dublin and Trinity Centre for the Book Research Seminar will host the Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL) Annual Seminar on Tuesday October 4, 2022 (9:30am – 5pm), at the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute. Ten years since digitisation was last the subject of a CERL Seminar, we wish to bring people together to discuss the varied challenges research libraries face in the planning and realising of internal and collaborative programmes of digitisation for cultural heritage materials. 

Speakers from various international and Irish libraries will comment on the state of the art of digitisation and the role of research libraries therein, presenting a variety of recent and ongoing projects. These include the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Folger Shakespeare Library, John Rylands Library, and the libraries of the National University of Ireland Galway and Royal Irish Academy. Through the seminar we hope to instigate a community-focused discussion to problematise the maturing field of cultural heritage digitisation. 

The full programme is available here for the event
Registration is open to all. Please register before September 26 by emailing secretariat@cerl.org.

Campus LocationTrinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute
For further information contact Unlocking the Fagel Collection Project Manager, Dr Ann-Marie Hansen, anhansen@tcd.ie

Welcome from the Library of Trinity College Dublin

Librarian Helen Shenton pictured in front of Berkeley Library

A very warm welcome to all returning students, academics, researchers and staff.

Library Supports & Services

We have a new orientation guide which is a result of students’ questions about the Library; a special thank you to the Global Student Ambassadors who were so generous with sharing their top tips in this new Getting to know your Library video.

We in the Library kickstarted the new academic year with in-person student orientation programmes. They included tours for postgraduates, mature and Trinity Access Programme students.

Sensory Library tours are also taking place this week as part of Trinity’s Autism orientation programme, and we look forward to welcoming incoming first year undergraduate students with the wonderful S2S Mentor team. Keep an eye out for new sensory furniture and spaces as part of the TCD Sense project.

This semester’s Library HITS (Helpful Information for Trinity Students/Staff) are starting next week and the first module will focus on skills for postgraduate and returning students. The interdisciplinary taster sessions co-delivered with Student Learning & Development are relevant for all students and cover everything from essay writing, academic integrity and critical thinking to publishing and promoting your research.

If you have any queries, Library staff are here to assist you with virtual consultations, skills workshops and a range of services. Please  email Library@tcd.ie and a Library staff member will get back to you, or contact your Subject Librarian directly.

The Welcome to the Library page has everything needed for you to get started.

Library entrance refurbishment

A refurbishment project of the Library entrances will start in the coming months. It will involve the installation of new access control gates at the entrances of the Berkeley, Lecky, John Stearne and Hamilton Libraries, providing automated access to the Library using the physical ID card and Trinity Live App. The aim is to give seamless access for staff and students, while improving security for Library collections and enhancing the spaces. All information on the project will be available on the Library website.

Virtual Trinity Library

In June 2022 the Library released the digitised version of the one of the world’s finest manuscripts, the Book of St Albans by the 13th century scribe, historian and artist Matthew Paris. The Book of St Albans received conservation attention, cataloguing updates, and was fully digitised, as part of the Virtual Trinity Library’s ‘Manuscripts for Medieval Studies’ project funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The digitised version is being used by students of the M. Phil in Medieval Studies. Its launch received extensive media coverage in the Irish Central, Irish Times and Irish Independent.

Discover more at European Researchers’ Night on September 30th and join the Library and those involved in the research theme ‘Manuscript, Print and Book Cultures’ for a range of activities on Trinity’s outstanding Library collections.

Old Library Redevelopment Project 

The Old Library Redevelopment Project is progressing apace with the decant of the collections from the Old Library, involving the gargantuan task of transferring 350,000 early printed books as part of a total 700,000 items.

Access to all the Library’s Research Collections and its staff expertise will continue throughout the lifetime of the Old Library Redevelopment Project (OLRP).

The Joint Research Collections Reading Room is currently housed in the East Pavilion of the Old Library. In 2023 it will transfer to an Interim Research Collections Study Centre in the basement of the Ussher Library. You will find up-to-date information on the Old Library Redevelopment: Update for Readers section of the Library website.

The Old Library and Long Room remain open and accessible to you and visitors for the next year. The restoration and construction phase will require its closure from the end of 2023.

The Book of Kells Interim Exhibition will ensure that the 9th century manuscript remains on view throughout. Subject to planning permission, the plan for the Interim Exhibition is to restore the historic Printing House to display the Book of Kells and erect a temporary pavilion in New Square to host a temporary exhibition for the three years of the Old Library’s closure.  

Join us on Culture Night, 23rd September, when the Conservation team will be giving talks on the conservation process as part of the Old Library Redevelopment Project.

The Old Library Redevelopment Project has received significant international media coverage, including The Guardian, New York TimesBBC World News, the German national broadcaster ZDF and most recently France 2 aired a piece in August.

Please enjoy the Long Room, often called the ‘most beautiful room in Ireland’, this year – as a reminder, every member of Trinity’s community is welcome to visit for free, but it is important to book ahead, for more details email BookofKells@tcd.ie. The Library will also be organising tours for staff and students in the coming months with more information to follow.

Finally, the 87th IFLA World Library and Information Congress was held in Ireland for the first time at the Dublin Convention Centre in July. I was honoured to give a keynote presentation on intertwined digital and cultural heritage, and the former Chancellor Mary Robinson gave an outstanding keynote address on ‘Climate Justice’ to the 2000+ delegates at the opening ceremony. Her challenges to us all were stark, simple and clear, and highly recommended viewing, as we figure out our collective and individual responses to the environmental crises.

With warmest good wishes for the forthcoming semester,

Helen Shenton


Librarian and College Archivist

#TCDLIBRARYSURVEY What we’re doing with your feedback

Last year, 1,189 of our readers responded to the Library Life Pulse survey conducted during Ireland’s fourth and strictest lockdown. The findings showed that the impact of the Library on our readers’ wellbeing was significant and up 10% from pre-Covid times to 61%.

We were delighted that you agreed positively with the following statements:

It is easy to access help and support when I am in Library buildings (71%)
The Library offers relevant training and skills support for students and staff (71%)
The Library has the right resources for my course/research degree programme/role (74%)
The Library is helping me to succeed on my course/research degree programme/in my role (76%)
I am satisfied with how the Library communicates with me (74%)

We acknowledge there is room for improvement with the following:

Suitable study/work space is readily available in the Library building(s) (46%)
It is easy to find the location of suitable study/work spaces in the Library building(s) (53%)
It is easy to access help and support when I am using Library services online (50%)
The Library has helped me to develop the skills I need for my studies/role (51%)

How are we acting on your feedback?

The high-level findings of this survey have been shared with the Library’s Leadership team and the university’s Library and Information Policy Committee. In the months following the survey, we have been exploring ideas and discussing solutions to issues you have identified in key areas of Space; Access to Resources; Training and Support and Communications. You can find out more about the survey findings and our action plan here:

We will be consulting with staff and students in making those improvements and will provide updates as they are being implemented.

Library exhibition celebrates poet Derek Mahon’s life and work

The life and work of poet Derek Mahon was celebrated last November in Trinity College Dublin with a conference organised by Trinity’s School of English in association with Poetry Ireland and hosted in the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute. The event took place ahead of what would have been the poet’s 80th birthday.

To mark the occasion an online exhibition entitled Derek Mahon: Piecing Together the Poet was also organised jointly by the Library of Trinity College Dublin and the Stewart Rose Library of Emory University (home to the principal Mahon archive). The exhibition features readings by Mahon himself and Stephen Rea along with specially commissioned interviews with friends and fellow poets. It also features atmospheric photographs by John Minihan.

The exhibition charts the formative influences of Mahon’s life and work including: his ambivalent relationship with Belfast where he grew up; Trinity, where he found his voice as a poet; contemporary poets, Seamus Heaney, Eavan Boland, Michael Longley and Brendan Kennelly, all friends and close associates of Mahon; his great reflective poems, such as the famous ‘A Disused Shed in Co. Wexford’, as well as his beautifully lyrical shorter pieces, including the consolatory ‘Everything Is Going To Be All Right’ both read by Stephen Rea.

Mahon with other Irish writers in Paris, 1989. Image © John Minihan.
Writers: Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill, Jennifer Johnston, Derek Mahon, Sebastian Barry, John Montague and Tom Kilroy

Professor Nicholas Grene, a member of the conference organising committee and Emeritus Professor of English at Trinity, commented:

“Derek Mahon was a star in a generation of wonderful Trinity poets. He was our very first Writer Fellow in Trinity in 1986 and was awarded an honorary degree by Trinity in 1995. His international distinction as a poet was recognised in a number of prizes including the David Cohen lifetime achievement award in 2007.”

For more, see Library online exhibition ‘Derek Mahon: Piecing Together the Poet’ https://www.tcd.ie/library/exhibitions/mahon/

Trinity unveils sensory spaces to make campus more inclusive

Trinity College Dublin unveiled a series of new spaces on campus that have been designed as supportive sensory environments to meet the needs of students and staff. 

The plans were devised by TCD Sense – The Trinity Sensory Processing Project – which aims to make Trinity more inclusive by reviewing and improving new and existing spaces, building sensory awareness and delivering specialist supports to students who experience barriers to managing and adapting to the sensory environments of college. 

The project currently spans more than 80 study spaces in the Library, sensory areas within four student social spaces, as well as individual sensory rooms. Hundreds of students are using these spaces every day, but much more is to come. 

Since the project was begun in 2019 by staff in the Disability Service and Discipline of Occupational Therapy, TCD Sense has developed strong partnerships with the TCD Students Union, the Trinity Ability Coop, as well as staff in the Library and the science laboratories and with numerous other areas across Trinity.  

Jessica K Doyle, TCD Sense Project Officer, said:  

“We are all sensory beings, and although we may not always be fully aware of it, sensation is everywhere. Sometimes we may crave activity and movement, louder music and natural light and brighter colours. At other times, we might feel extra sensitive and prefer quieter spaces with dim lighting and less going on. Everyone has a unique sensory system and ways of perceiving and processing sensation that can change depending on time, context, mood, energy levels, neurotype & mechanism of perception”. 

Kieran Lewis, Senior Occupational Therapist at Trinity, said: 

“We are focusing on areas which students use most. Over the past number of months, as well as the spaces in the Library, we have designed sensory areas within four student social spaces, as well as individual sensory rooms.  These have been designed to enable students to engage fully in the college environments and to allow for individuals’ different sensory preferences”. 

User experience research by the Library with students highlighted the impact of the sensory environment on wellbeing and productivity; lighting, noise and sanctuary affect student comfort in library spaces, especially students who experience sensory overload and have high awareness of the sensory environment. These findings are reinforced by further research by the Disability Service and Discipline of Occupational Therapy, which included a sensory audit of Library buildings.  

Helen Shenton, Librarian and College Archivist at Trinity, said: 

“As part of this collaborative University initiative TCD Sense, the Library has created six sensory spaces across the Berkeley, Lecky, Ussher, Hamilton and Stearne libraries which will support our students and staff with diverse sensory needs. Another five will be completed in the coming weeks.  Based on inclusive research with our students, we have designed a range of environments that will help our readers feel at ease and comfortable while in the Library. We hope they will improve the quality of their experience both in the Library and across the University.” 

In May 2019, 150 students registered with the Disability Service in TCD completed a survey on sensory experiences: 

  • 68% reported that there is no quiet space on campus that they can access easily if feeling overwhelmed 
  • Over 50% commented that they go home/leave campus if feeling overwhelmed 
  • 93% would use a quiet space if it was available in the library 
  • 49% reported difficulty with acoustics (e.g. noises, echoes, humming) in the library 
  • 41% reported difficulty with acoustics in lectures. 

This development is being part funded from a €5.4 million fund for students with disabilities announced by Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris earlier this year. Trinity has used €233,934 of its allocation of €482,364 on these developments. Additional resources of €126,500 have come from the Trinity Library, TCDSU and the Director of Student Services.  

Trinity Provost Linda Doyle welcomed the new spaces:  

“This has been a return to campus like no other, at a time when students and staff have been under unprecedented stress. It’s more important now than ever that everyone in the College community has access to places around the campus where they can find respite to focus, or to relax in peace. The TCD Sense Project is a wonderful addition to our campus and will contribute to the health and wellbeing of all.” 

Trinity Student Union President Leah Keogh said: 

“It has been a joy to work alongside the Disability Service on this project which has uniquely provided quiet spaces in busy places. The attention to detail is what has made this project so effective; the colours, textures and pieces were all hand selected to create the best possible environment for students to take some time out. This project has set the benchmark for what our student spaces should be going forward.” 

Dr Clodagh Nolan, Asst. Professor, Discipline of Occupational Therapy added: 

“Learning and social environments are fraught with sensory information that needs to be processed and managed by individuals. For some it can be overwhelming whereas for others it can be underwhelming. Managing the sensory environment including its design is an important element in enabling a person to learn constructively and to get the most from their day-to-day activities whether those activities include study, research, or social engagement. Real world research into the sensory environment which included all stakeholders in collaboration with the Discipline of Occupational Therapy has enabled us to translate the findings of this research into managing and changing environments to meet the needs of those who are challenged by these environments.”  

Declan Treanor, Director of the Trinity Disability Services, said:  

“We have identified making Trinity a more inclusive place from a sensory perspective as a key aim in The Disability Service’s Strategic Plan for 2020-2025. Plans are underway to look at developing a sensory map of Trinity, including sensory design principles in new developments, as well as adding sensory designed spaces in student accommodation and other spaces that are deemed to be useful to develop. We are looking at indoor and outdoor opportunities. We are also developing a sensory environment evaluation tool in collaboration with Technological University Dublin”.  

More information on the supports and resources available in managing the sensory environment and on the project can be found here.

Wishing departing Library colleagues a long and happy retirement

Pomodoro Sphere

For the second time in a row due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have reached September and are unable to mark the imminent retirement of respected colleagues with the traditional celebrations and ceremonies we normally expect and that they deserve. This year, we are saying goodbye to Assumpta Guilfoyle, Sean Breen, and Peter Guilding. Between them, they have given the Library 136 years of service.

Sean (48 years) has worked in Reading Room Services and for many he is the embodiment of the BLU counter. Assumpta (47 years) and Peter (41 years) have worked in Cataloguing (Bibliographic Data Management Department), where they played significant and well-known roles: Keywords, Banned Books and Shared Cataloguing Programme.

They are joined by two colleagues, Paul Doyle and Loretto Curley who also retired in 2020.

Continue reading “Wishing departing Library colleagues a long and happy retirement”

Welcome to all new undergraduate students from the Library of Trinity College Dublin

Dear students,

A very warm welcome to all new undergraduate students starting classes today − we wish you every success in your studies at Trinity. The libraries are open and, in keeping with the Provost’s ‘Return to Campus’ guidelines and public health advice, face coverings and two metre social distancing are currently mandatory. Pre-booking is required to enter the Library with each individual booking being for 1 hour 45 minutes.

From today, we are also introducing extended opening hours to include evening and Saturday openings in the Berkeley, Lecky, Ussher and Hamilton Libraries as well as Saturday opening in the John Stearne Medical Library.

Continue reading “Welcome to all new undergraduate students from the Library of Trinity College Dublin”

Ussher Library Basement Stock Relocation Project

Ussher Library

As part of the enabling works for the Old Library Redevelopment Project, a stock relocation project has commenced in the Ussher Library basement. The goal of the project is to clear the Ussher basement so that it can be redesigned as a temporary home for the Early Printed Books and Manuscripts & Archives departments while the Old Library is decanted and renovated.

The Ussher basement stock relocation project will involve temporary restrictions on access to selected collections. Full details and updates are available on the Library’s ‘Plan your visit‘ webpage.

#TCDLIBRARYSURVEY − A BIG THANK YOU TO TRINITY STAFF AND STUDENTS FOR YOUR FEEDBACK

pop art image of Berkeley Library

We are extremely grateful to everyone who took the time to complete our recent Library Life Pulse survey, particularly as we know how challenging the past sixteen months of the pandemic has been for students and staff. 

Your feedback is helping us to understand readers’ needs and in turn, shape the development of responsive services for the future. Across all user categories, the survey results are revealing improved satisfaction rates for online support and skills development.  

Over the Summer months, we will be analysing the findings in greater detail in order to create an action plan that addresses your feedback. We will provide a further update during Michaelmas term. 

Congratulations to all our survey prize draw winners whose names were selected to win from a selection of Trinity Gift Shop online gift cards; One for All gift vouchers and T-Card credit. A special mention to our overall winners James Deegan and Allison Chambers who were the lucky recipients of Airpods and a Fitbit Tracker respectively. 

Library opening hours from 7 June

The Berkeley, Lecky and Ussher Libraries, the Hamilton Library, and the John Stearne Medical Library will be closed for the Bank Holiday this coming Monday 7 June.

However, Kinsella Hall (all three floors) and Regent House (postgraduates only) will be available, 08:00 to 22:00, Saturday 5 – Monday 7 June inclusive.

Normal summer hours resume on Tuesday 8 June. See our Opening Hours page for details.

Pre-booking remains essential.