National Library of Ireland

Dublin, Ireland | C.1877

Photo Credit: David Maguire

Enter this cultural institution of Ireland, and you’ll be met with a mosaic on which “SAPIENTIA” is inscribed. In Latin, this translates to “wisdom,” of which there is much to be discovered in this library. You can look, read, but not lend the extensive collection (that’s what the photocopiers are for).

Lending is not allowed because the National Library of Ireland is a reference library. It has a large quantity of Irish and Irish-related material which can be consulted without charge, including books, maps, manuscripts, music, newspapers, periodicals, and photographs. Included in their collections is material issued by private as well as government publishers.

Located in Dublin, the building was designed by Thomas Newenham Deane after the passage of the Dublin Science and Art Museum Act in 1877. It provided the first influx of collections for the library whose mission is ‘To collect, preserve, promote and make accessible the documentary and intellectual record of the life of Ireland and to contribute to the provision of access to the larger universe of recorded knowledge.”

The library had early struggles with a shortage of space. Even after the East Wing was completed in the mid 1920s, problems grew through the 1960s. As a result, premises in the vicinity were acquired and developed, most notably, the former Kildare Street Club which now house the Manuscripts Department, the Office of the Chief Herald, and an exhibition area.

Today, the library is embarking on a redevelopment of its main building. This will allow them to create suitable storage and preservation conditions for the national collections, which are otherwise at risk of deterioration.

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