Taking a look at Ireland’s Trinity College Library

by Matthew Tansek, Head Editor, INALJ Rhode Island

Taking a look at Ireland’s Trinity College Library

As library and information science professionals it can be easy for us to get caught up in new trends, learning the hottest technology, or even researching a new avenue for research.  So I thought I would take this opportunity to showcase something old, and I mean really old…and incredible.  I present to you the library of the University of Dublin Ireland, often referred to as “The cathedral of the book”.

trinity1Image by Brett Jordan

http://zoom.it/6tds  (Linked image by Nic McPhee)

http://zoom.it/jW0p  (Linked image by Nic McPhee)

http://zoom.it/qMVDG  (Linked image by Matt Brown)


Founded in 1592 it is part of one of the seven ancient universities in the British Isles[1].  It’s sprawling halls are home to more than 5 million printed volumes, and it’s website boasts that it has collected and chronicled more than 400 years of academic development.  Many special collections have been donated to the institution over the years and it houses such remarkable pieces as the book of Kells and the book of Durrow.  Additionally it should be noted that it’s collection is also distinct being chosen as a legal deposit institution, making publishers obliged to send their materials to the library for record and the posterity.  Consequently it sees its collection grow by nearly 100,000 volumes each year[2].

The central chamber is known as the long room and was constructed between 1712 and 1792.  To help put the scale of this library into perspective this one room holds more than 20,000 books, the library itself it provides reading areas for around 30,000 students and employs nearly one hundred full time personnel including nearly forty librarians and catalogers![3]

Looking like something straight out of Hogwarts it’s no wonder that it has become one of Ireland’s top tourist destinations attracting about half a million visitors per year.  My favorite feature is its barrel vaulted ceiling which was added to the space in 1860 and gives it that magical vertical quality.  The whole school grounds composing of just of 51 acres is replete with an assortment of both new modern designed spaces of steel and glass and old world stone.  Trinity College Dublin has even graced the pages of Forbes Magazine who named it one of the world’s most beautiful college campuses[4].

Libraries are one of the few institutions that people love to revere, and  I can’t help but take pride in my profession when I see images or am lucky enough to visit places like this.  We would all do well to carry a bit of the rich history of our profession with us as we embrace the new facets of our profession each day, and I think the Trinity College Dublin Library showcases this richness vividly.

If you would like to visit the trinity library web page you can follow this link : http://www.tcd.ie/Library/about/

An interesting blog titled Tales of Mystery and Pagination which is put together by the department of early printed books at Trinity College Library Dublin is also worth taking a look at : http://mysterypagination.wordpress.com

[1] “Radcliffe dean to lead historic university in Scotland”. Ukinusa.fco.gov.uk. Retrieved 2012-02-17.

[2] Trinity College, History of the Library, http://www.tcd.ie/Library/epb/history.php (March 8, 2013).

[3] Trinity College, Staff Directory, http://tcdlocalportal.tcd.ie/pls/public/staff.php?p_unit=library (March 8, 2013).

[4] Forbes, The World’s Most Beautiful College Campuses,  http://www.forbes.com/2010/08/31/beautiful-campuses-lifestyle-education-colleges-10-university-architecture_slide_7.html (March 10, 2013).

[5]All images transmitted here are done so in accordance with with Creative Commons and Flickr licensing.


Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular LIS jobs resource INALJ.com (formerly I Need a Library Job). Founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard, INALJ’s social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ.com. INALJ has had over 20 Million page views and helped thousands of librarians and LIS folk find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in a month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this many new jobs published daily. She was a 2013 Library Journal Mover & Shaker and has served on the University of Maryland iSchool Board from 2014-2017. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and now lives part time in Western NY and Budapest, Hungary. She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay.