National Library of Ireland

The National Library of Ireland (NLI; Irish: Leabharlann Náisiúnta na hÉireann) is the Republic of Ireland's national library located in Dublin, in a building designed by Thomas Newenham Deane. The mission of the National Library of Ireland 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."

National Library of Ireland
The front façade of the library, 2011
LocationKildare Street, Dublin 2, Ireland, Republic of Ireland
Established1877; 146 years ago (1877)
Items collectedBooks, journals, newspapers, magazines, manuscripts, maps, prints and drawings, printed music, photographs, ephemera, and websites and databases
Sizeestimated 8 million items
Legal depositYes, since 1927
Access and use
Access requirementsFree. Open to all those who wish to consult the collections for material not otherwise available through the public library service or an academic library.
Other information
DirectorAudrey Whitty (February 2023–)[1]
View on Kildare Street of the NLI

The library is a reference library and, as such, does not lend. It has a large quantity of Irish and Irish-related material which can be consulted without charge; this includes books, maps, manuscripts, music, newspapers, periodicals and photographs. Included in its collections are materials issued by private as well as government publishers. Among the library's major holdings are an archive of Irish newspapers and collections donated by individual authors or their estates. The library is also the ISSN National Centre for Ireland.

The office of the Chief Herald of Ireland, the National Photographic Archive and the Museum of Literature Ireland are functions of the library, the latter in partnership with University College Dublin. The library also holds exhibitions, and provides a number of other services including genealogy research tools and support. The Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media is the member of the Government of Ireland responsible for the library.

The main library building is on Kildare Street, adjacent to Leinster House and the archaeology section of the National Museum of Ireland.

History edit

The National Library of Ireland was established by the Dublin Science and Art Museum Act 1877, which provided that the bulk of the collections in the possession of the Royal Dublin Society, should be vested in the then Department of Science and Art for the benefit of the public and of the Society, and for the purposes of the Act.

An Agreement of 1881 provided that the Library should operate under the superintendence of a Council of twelve Trustees, eight of whom were appointed by the Society and four by the Government; this Agreement also conferred on the Trustees the duty of appointing the officers of the Library. This arrangement remained in place until the library became an autonomous cultural institution in 2005.[2]

After the foundation of the Irish Free State in 1924/5 the Library was transferred to the Department of Education under which it remained until 1986 when it was transferred to the Department of the Taoiseach. In 1927 the Library was granted legal deposit status under the Industrial and Commercial Property (Protection) Act 1927.[3] In 1992 responsibility for the Library was transferred to the newly established Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht (now the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media)[4] and on 3 May 2005 became an autonomous cultural institution under the National Cultural Institutions Act 1997.

Governance edit

The library is governed by a board, with day-to-day management in the hands of a director and a number of heads of functions. Directors of the library have included Thomas William Lyster (1895-1920), Robert Lloyd Praeger (1920–24), Richard Irvine Best (1924–40), Richard J. Hayes (1940-67), Michael Hewson (1982–1988), Patricia Donlon (1989–97), Brendan O'Donoghue (1997–2003), Aongus Ó hAonghusa (2003–09), Fiona Ross (2010-2014), and Sandra Collins (2015–21).[5][6] After a period under an acting director, in December 2022, the library announced that Audrey Whitty, deputy director of the National Museum of Ireland, would assume the office of director in early 2023.[1]

Collections edit

Basis and legal deposit edit

The collection began with the transfer of books and papers from the Royal Dublin Society, and was significantly boosted by the addition of the library as a copyright library for Ireland from 1927 (by contrast, the library of Trinity College Dublin was already a copyright library for the UK and Ireland, a status it retains). The National Cultural Institutions Act 1997 mandated that the National Library of Ireland (NLI) collect all materials relating to Ireland to provide an accurate record of Irish output.[7]

Major collections edit

The library holds over 12 million items.[8] The main collection is a combination of stock transferred from the Royal Dublin Society, including the Joly collection (25,000 volumes), later acquisitions, and copyright deposits of most printed, and some other, works published in Ireland since 1927. The library purchases content from Northern Ireland, and attempts to collect all publications in Irish, and acquires a limited supply from further afield.[9] The book collection numbers around 1 million volumes, principally sourced from the RDS legacy and legal deposit copies.[9] Other major collections include serials (recurrent publications other than newspapers, including magazines, journals and annual reports), maps and drawings, Government and other public sector publications, manuscripts, and original and microfilmed newspapers. The NLI holds over 2,785 subject items related to 20th century Irish poets,[7] and is a major source for poetry by Irish writers.[7]

1907 photograph of the National Library of Ireland, as taken from the Nordisk familjebok

Personal archives and papers edit

The National Library of Ireland houses collections of archival papers, including personal notes and work books, of eminent writers including:

The National Library of Ireland houses the Sheehy Skeffington Papers, a collection of articles, books, poems, and other materials of Irish writers and activists, Francis Sheehy Skeffington, and Hanna Sheehy Skeffington.  These writings offer an understanding into the influence of the Francis and Hanna Skeffington in early 20th Century Irish culture and thought as well as insight into their family life.[12]

The library also holds the Cooper Collection. Austin Cooper (1759–1831) was a County Tipperary clerk who produced numerous sketches of Irish antiquities which were preserved by his great grandson.[13] The Cooper Collection also contains drawings by other artists including Francis Wheatley.[13]

Parish registers edit

The Library also maintains an online index of all Catholic parish registers up to the 1880s which recorded baptisms, marriages and some burials. The original collection was preserved on microfilm and later was provided online.[14]

Music edit

In 2010, the National Library of Ireland began a collaborative effort in a new website, the National Archive of Irish Composers, which was designed to develop a free online comprehensive collection of the sheet music of 18th and 19th century Irish composers.[15] As of 2021, the website of the National Archive of Irish Composers describes the project as a collaborative venture between the National Library of Ireland, TU Dublin Conservatory of Music and Drama, Heritage Music Productions, directed by Dr Una Hunt.[16]

Digital edit

In 2019, the Library accessioned its first "born digital" collection as a pilot scheme, receiving the digital collection of Irish author, Marian Keyes.[17]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b "The NLI is delighted to announce the appointment of Dr Audrey Whitty to the role of Director". 22 December 2022. Retrieved 7 March 2023.
  2. ^ Collins, Sandra (December 2018). "The National Library of Ireland". Alexandria: The Journal of National and International Library and Information Issues. 28 (3): 177–181. doi:10.1177/0955749019878523. ISSN 0955-7490. S2CID 211399600.
  3. ^ Industrial and Commercial Property (Protection) Act 1927, s. 178: Delivery of books to libraries (No. 16 of 1927, s. 178). Enacted on 20 May 1927. Act of the Oireachtas. Retrieved from Irish Statute Book.
  4. ^ Arts and Culture (Transfer of Departmental Administration and Ministerial Functions) Order 1993 (S.I. No. 21 of 1993). Signed on 20 January 1993 by Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds. Statutory Instrument of the Government of Ireland. Archived from the original on 13 August 2018. Retrieved from Irish Statute Book on 13 August 2018.
  5. ^ nli. "Corporate Information". Retrieved 19 November 2023.
  6. ^ "UCD appoints Dr Sandra Collins as Librarian". Retrieved 16 November 2022.
  7. ^ a b c Ní Dhuibhne, Éilís (2012). "Poetry in the Archive: Reflections of a Former Archivist on the Manuscripts of Twentieth-Century Irish Poets in the National Library of Ireland". Irish University Review. 42 (1): |pages=155–168. JSTOR 24577105. Archived from the original on 25 April 2021. Retrieved 25 April 2021 – via JSTOR.
  8. ^ "Collections". National Library of Ireland. Retrieved 14 March 2023.
  9. ^ a b "Collections - Books". National Library of Ireland. Retrieved 14 March 2023.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Telford, Lyndsey (21 December 2011). "Seamus Heaney declutters home and donates personal notes to National Library". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. Archived from the original on 2 August 2012. Retrieved 21 December 2011.
  11. ^ Crowley, Sinéad (10 September 2021). "Edna O'Brien archive acquired by National Library of Ireland". RTÉ Culture. Archived from the original on 16 September 2021. Retrieved 16 September 2021.
  12. ^ Culhane, Dara (2015). "The Sheehy Skeffington Papers: Treasure Hunting at the National Library of Ireland Archives". The Canadian Journal of Irish Studies. 39 (1): |pages=50–63. JSTOR 24635400 – via JSTOR.
  13. ^ a b Harbison, Peter (2001). "Irish Artists on Irish Subjects': The Cooper Collection in the National Library". Irish Arts Review Yearbook. 17: |pages=61–69. JSTOR 20493166. Archived from the original on 25 April 2021. Retrieved 25 April 2021 – via JSTOR.
  14. ^ Fitzsimons, Fiona (2015). "Catholic Parish Registers". History Ireland. 23 (2): |page=21. JSTOR 43235414. Archived from the original on 25 April 2021. Retrieved 25 April 2021 – via JSTOR.
  15. ^ Hunt, Una (July 2011). "The National Archive of Irish Composers: Creating a Digital Collection of Music from the National Library of Ireland". Fontes Artis Musicae. 58 (3): |pages=266–273 – via EBSCOhost.
  16. ^ "National Archive of Irish Composers". National Archive of Irish Composers. 2021. Archived from the original on 3 March 2021.
  17. ^ McGreevy, Ronan (16 October 2019). "Marian Keyes becomes first Irish writer to donate digital archive". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on 2 January 2021. Retrieved 16 September 2021.

External links edit

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