The vaulted ceiling, serried shelves of handbound volumes and the evocative aroma of leather in the Long Room go to make up one of the iconic experiences of Trinity College life. Most graduates will have visited the Old Library building with family and guests, along with the many thousands of overseas visitors who come to admire the Library, the Book of Kells and our other treasures.A smaller number of alumni will have used the rich resources of the Early Printed Books Department in pursuit of historical sources as part of their studies.
Accommodating both visitors and researchers presents the Library with the challenge of providing a stimulating and rewarding experience for the guests, while preserving the materials for use by current and future generations of scholars. The environment, beautiful though it is, requires constant monitoring to ensure that we have the appropriate conditions to protect the collection from rapid deterioration. This means keeping our heritage collections safe from excessive heat, light, pollution and extremes of humidity.
The collections in the Long Room include some of the most important bibliographic treasures in Ireland, from the birth of printing to the 19th century. They include the Fagel Collection, bought from the Dutch political family when Napoleon invaded the Low Countries. Its 20,000 books reflect the professional interests of the family in Dutch, English and French, politics and history as well as science, architecture and natural history. The Quin Collection contains 16 incunabula including such works as Virgil, Opera, Venice, 1470 and Dante, La Divina Commedia, Foligno, 1472 and many superb bindings including five produced for Jean Grolier and many by the last English binders of the late 18th century. The Long Room also holds Archbishop Ussher’s Library, which formed the core of Trinity’s original library and contains theological, literary and historical books from the 15th to the 17th centuries.
The College Library has embarked on an exciting project which will, for future generations, sustain this wonderful building and its unique collections.