New Collaborative Storage Facility in Bid to Conserve Ireland’s Library Collections

Posted on: 22 August 2011

The university libraries of Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin and the National Library of Ireland today (19 August 2011) announced plans to jointly develop a shared facility to accommodate the urgent storage needs of their collections, as well as the longer-term needs of Irish research libraries in general.

The new facility would accommodate vast collections of books, manuscripts, maps, audio recordings, early printed books and other valuable materials of historical and cultural value which are currently at risk due to inadequate or inappropriate storage space.

“Storage space for our collections has reached crisis point in the country’s major research libraries, TCD and UCD, and in the National Library of Ireland,” explained UCD Librarian John Howard, speaking at today’s announcement.  Fiona Ross, Director of the National Library, added:  “The National Library of Ireland’s National Collection is at imminent risk of damage and destruction due to unsuitable conditions in storage areas in the Library’s Kildare Street and Temple Bar sites.”

“Trinity College Library’s current Book Repository contains over two million books and has been at full capacity for some time.  Its environmental controls fall well below those required to preserve such collections of material, which are deteriorating rapidly,” noted Robin Adams, Trinity College Dublin Librarian and College Archivist.

The libraries are also pleased to announce financial support for their planning effort from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, a private philanthropy based in New York. The award (US $50,000) has been made to UCD to support the efforts of the three libraries. “We are grateful for the Mellon Foundation’s recognition of our commitment to preserve the nation’s knowledge resources and documentary cultural heritage materials,” stated John Howard.  Fiona Ross said: “This support for planning to sustain our resources is a signal that our plans, while they serve national concerns, have both international interest and impact.”

The financial support will be used in the initial phase of the project to defray the cost of employing consultants to deliver a comprehensive design and a supporting business case. The consultants selected for carrying out this task are Total Logistics, a leading European supply chain consultancy with a wide range of experience, including developing the Book Storage Facility for the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford.

As part of the consultancy project, Total Logistics will also examine the potential for collaboration in providing services associated with the care and maintenance of these collections, such as digitisation, conservation and cataloguing. Existing space in the Libraries may become available for alternative public service uses such as exhibitions and study facilities.

While the project is being led initially by Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin and the National Library of Ireland, the vision for the proposed facility is that research institutions nationwide-including other Universities-would have an opportunity to share storage space in the facility.

The consultation process will result in the delivery of a comprehensive design that will enable planning for development of the proposed facility to progress early in the new year. The libraries will jointly seek private philanthropic funding and Government support for the development of this new facility that will serve the needs of researchers, academics and general public nationwide.