Trinity College Library

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The Library of Trinity College Dublin
Long Room Interior, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland - Diliff.jpg
The Long Room in the Old Library
Country Ireland
Type Academic library
Location College Street, Dublin 2
Coordinates 53°20′38″N 6°15′24.5″W / 53.34389°N 6.256806°W / 53.34389; -6.256806
Items collected Books, journals, newspapers, magazines, sound and music recordings, databases, maps, prints and manuscripts
Size c. 6,000,000 volumes
Criteria for collection Acquisition through purchase, bequest and legal deposit
Legal deposit Republic of Ireland (Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000) and United Kingdom (Legal Deposit Libraries Act, 2003)
Access and use
Access requirements Staff, graduates (reading privileges only) and students of the university. Other readers admitted under cross-institutional arrangements, or if material is unavailable elsewhere. Old Library and Library Gift Shop open to public
Other information
Director College Librarian and Archivist Helen Shenton
Staff Around 180[1]
The Old Library Building
Arnaldo Pomodoro's Sfera con Sfera at The Berkeley Library

The Library of Trinity College Dublin serves Trinity College and the University of Dublin. It is the largest library in Ireland and, as a legal deposit or "copyright library", it has rights to receive material published in the Republic of Ireland free of charge; it is also the only Irish library to hold such rights for the United Kingdom. The Library is the permanent home to the famous Book of Kells. Two of the four volumes are on public display, one opened to a major decorated page and the other to a typical page of text. The volumes and pages shown are regularly changed.[2] Members of the University of Dublin also have access to the libraries of Tallaght Hospital and the Irish School of Ecumenics, Milltown.

Constituent Library buildings[edit]

The Library proper occupies several buildings, four of which are at the Trinity College campus itself, with another part of the Trinity Centre at St. James's Hospital, Dublin:

  • The original (Old) Library is Thomas Burgh’s masterpiece. A huge building, it originally towered over the university and city after its completion. Even today, surrounded by similarly scaled buildings, it is imposing and dominates the view of the university from Nassau Street. The Book of Kells is located in the Old Library, along with the Book of Durrow, the Book of Howth and other ancient texts. Also incorporating the Long Room, the Old Library is one of Ireland's biggest tourist attractions, and holds thousands of rare, and in many cases very early, volumes. In the 18th century, the college received the Brian Boru harp, one of the three surviving medieval Gaelic harps, and a national symbol of Ireland, which is now housed in the Library. Housed within the Old Library are:
    • Early Printed Books and Special Collections
    • Manuscripts & Archives Research Library (M&ARL)
  • The Berkeley/Lecky/Ussher (BLU) Arts Libraries complex, incorporating:
    • The Berkeley Library, in Fellows Square
    • The Lecky Library, attached to the Arts Building
    • The Ussher Library, overlooking College Park
    • The Glucksman Map Library
    • The Preservation and Conservation Department
  • The Hamilton Science and Engineering Library
  • The 1937 Reading Room (for graduate use)
  • The John Stearne Medical Library (JSML), housed at St James's Hospital

Further materials are held in storage in Stacks, either in closed access within College or at a book depository in the Dublin suburb of Santry.


The Library began with the founding of Trinity College in 1592. In 1661, Henry Jones presented it with the Book of Kells, its most famous manuscript. James Ussher (1625–56), Archbishop of Armagh, whose most important works were "Veterum Epistolarum Hibernicarum Sylloge" (1632) and "Brittanicarum Ecclesiarum Antiquitates" (1639), left his valuable library, comprising several thousand printed books and manuscripts, to the Library. His complete works were published by the Library in twenty-four volumes.[3]

In 1801, the Library was given legal deposit rights, making it the only library in Ireland to have such rights for the United Kingdom at that time.[3] Starting at 4 pm on Saturday 29 November 2009, the Trinity Students' Union organized a 24-hour sit-in in protest at a reduced book-buying budget, lack of access to books on Sundays, and a proposed reduction of counter services.[4]

Legal deposit library status[edit]

According to the Republic of Ireland's Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000, the Library is entitled, along with the National Library of Ireland and the libraries of the National University of Ireland, the University of Limerick, and Dublin City University, to receive a copy of all works published in the Republic of Ireland. Also, as a result of the British Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003, which continues a more ancient right dating from 1801, the Library is entitled, along with the British Library, the Bodleian Library at Oxford, Cambridge University Library, the National Library of Wales and the National Library of Scotland, to receive a copy on request of all works published in the United Kingdom.

The Long Room[edit]

The 65-metre-long (213 ft) main chamber of the Old Library, the Long Room, was built between 1712 and 1732 and houses 200,000 of the Library's oldest books. Initially The Long Room had a flat ceiling, shelving for books only on the lower level, and an open gallery. By the 1850s the room had to be expanded as the shelves were filled due to the fact that the Library had been given permission to obtain a free copy of every book that had been published in Ireland and Britain. In 1860, The Long Room's roof was raised to accommodate an upper gallery.[5]

The Long Room is lined with marble busts. The marble bust collection was formed when 14 busts from the famous sculptor Peter Scheemakers were acquired by the college. Many of the busts are of great philosophers, writers, and men who supported the college. The most outstanding bust in the collection is of the writer Jonathan Swift, created by Louis François Roubiliac.[5]

The Long Room also holds one of the last remaining copies of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic. This proclamation was read by Patrick Pearse near the General Post Office on 24 April 1916. Visitors may also view the Trinity College harp (also known as the "Brian Boru harp") in The Long Room that is the oldest of its kind in Ireland dating back to the 15th century. The harp is made out of oak and willow and includes 29 brass strings.[5]

In popular culture[edit]

The Jedi archives of the Jedi Temple in the movie Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones bear a startling resemblance to the Long Room of the Trinity College Library. This resemblance resulted in controversy as permission had not been sought to use the building's likeness in the film. However, Lucasfilm denied that the Long Room was the basis for the Jedi archives, and officials from Trinity College Library decided not to take any legal action.[6][7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "University and College Officers - University and Professors, Associate Professors, Lecturers and other Officers". College Calendar, Trinity College Dublin (PDF). 2008. p. B117. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 June 2011. 
  2. ^ "Book of Kells - The Old Library & the Book of Kells Exhibition : Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin, Ireland". 2014-12-04. Archived from the original on 15 March 2015. Retrieved 2015-03-09. 
  3. ^ a b "History of the Library". Retrieved 28 January 2013. 
  4. ^ "Trinity library occupied - Indymedia Ireland". Retrieved 2015-03-09. 
  5. ^ a b c "The Long Room". Retrieved 20 April 2017. 
  6. ^ Williams, Eoghan (29 September 2002). "Trinity to strike back at return of the Jedi". The Irish Independent. Retrieved 30 July 2015. 
  7. ^ "Jedi Archives Clones Long Room, Trinity Attacks". Archiseek. Retrieved 30 July 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Fox, Peter Treasures of the Library: Trinity College Dublin. Dublin: Royal Irish Academy, 1986 ISBN 978-0-901714-45-9
  • Fox, Peter "The Librarians of Trinity College", in: Vincent Kinane, Anne Walsh, eds., Essays on the History of Trinity College Library, Dublin. Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2000 ISBN 1-85182-467-7

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 53°20′38″N 6°15′24.5″W / 53.34389°N 6.256806°W / 53.34389; -6.256806