The Old Library in 2022: A year of great change

Posted on: 27 December 2022

The monumental task of decanting the Library collections - involving a team of more than 75 staff and assistants - began last Spring, with a staggering 3.5 kilometres of books removed.

The Old Library in 2022: A year of great change

Image: Project assistant Tünde Kutle removes books from the old Library collections for cleaning - so far almost three and a half kilometres of books have been removed


2022 will be a year to remember for the Library of Trinity College Dublin. The monumental task of decanting the Library collections commenced last Spring as part of the Old Library Redevelopment Project.

All of the Library’s Research Collections housed in the Old Library are being transferred to special storage. This means removing 350,000 Early Printed books and a total of 700,000 collection items as part of the Library collections. Readers will continue to have access to all material in an Interim Research Collections Study Centre during the lifetime of the building conservation project.

The first book to be decanted was a 19th century publication, ‘Reeves’ History of the English law: from the time of the Romans to the end of the reign of Elizabeth’ and many more have followed.

So far almost three and a half kilometres of books stacked side by side have been removed or 32% of the overall project. There is a target of over ten and a half kilometres in the overall project. That means just seven kilometres to go.

Project assistant Patricia Bedlow vacuums a book in Old Library

Above: Project assistant Patricia Bedlow vacuums a book for removal

The decant, led by the Library team, is a massive operation, with more than 50 Library staff assisted by over 25 project assistants. Significant care and consideration goes into moving a collection of this scale and the dedication of the Library team is impressive.

This is one of the largest decants of a heritage building in Ireland. As part of the decant process, each book is carefully cleaned with a specialised vacuum, measured, electronically tagged and linked to an online catalogue record, before being safely relocated to a climate-controlled storage facility.

Old Library project assistant at work

Above: Project assistant Bogna Stolarska measures for a slip case

Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan visited the Old Library in October to see at close quarters the monumental task.

Group of people in the Old Library

Above: members of the Old Library team with Minister Malcolm Noonan, Provost Dr Linda Doyle and Librarian Helen Shenton.

The Old Library Redevelopment Project is a transformative undertaking and is ensuring this 18th century Old Library building and its collections are conserved for the next century.

National and international media have also captured the once in a lifetime conservation project including the just-published Financial Times, The Guardian, New York Times, BBC World News, the German national broadcaster ZDF and France 2. For more information on the Old Library Redevelopment Project see Old Library Redevelopment Project.


Media Contact:

Caoimhe Ni Lochlainn