The Marsh’s Library in Dublin was my own little adventure, on our mini break we could travel to whatever destination suited our fancy, I chose to head off to Dublin, Ireland and accidentally stumbled onto this gem of a library. I heard a few snippets of information while on a bus tour around Dublin and was determined to stop in the next day to see it for myself, I was glad I did because Marsh’s Library is absolutely beautiful and it houses a few surprises inside as well.
Marsh’s Library was opened in 1707 and was the first public library in all of Ireland, the library was commissioned by the Archbishop of Dublin; Narcissus Marsh. The library takes great pride in the fact that the interior has changed relatively little over the course of the last 300 years. The books in the library are housed in one of two galleries, these galleries are separated into bays and each bay contains material relating to a particular subject the books are then shelved according to size with large volumes on the bottom and smaller ones on top, this was not only to keep the shelving intact but to make it far more difficult for thieves to pocket the smaller volumes as they require a ladder to reach. The library also still has the original cages that served as reading rooms for researchers, the librarian would literally lock an individual into a cell with his selected materials and then would have to unlock the cage for the researcher to be able to leave, all of this was to ensure that the books stayed at the library! The library also has an interactive activity where guests are invited to sit down and try their hand at writing with quill and ink, it was really fun to try although my script was not very beautiful.
The library is funded by the Department of Arts and Heritage and the generosity of patrons. The library has its own conservation team consisting of two conservationists and its own bindery, in stark contrast to the historical libraries of England these two departments will do offsite work for other institutions in a further effort to raise money for the library. The biggest issue in terms of conservation for the library is funding so it makes sense to hire out these highly skilled assets. Marsh’s Library also has its catalog available online promoting greater access to its materials.
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Marsh’s Library click here!