Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Girls on tour...library style

This weekend Charlotte and I had a trip to Malahide and managed to wangle a behind the scenes library tour at Trinity College, Dublin.  As part of our traineeship we have seen the legal deposit libraries of the UL and Bod but Trinity was a great opportunity to see a fully functioning university library, which is the only source for books for students (apart from purchasing them themselves).  The UL and Bod have the networks of faculty and college libraries behind them, which I am sure can be problematic but also provides alternative sources of material for students. 

Ussher Library
There are three main libraries, which are now all physically linked with a main foyer.  Seminar rooms have been added, which allow group study and have been highly successful.  The pods have no roof and so people can see what is happening in them from the stairwell - this has apparently resulted in the students being rather studious since there is the feeling of being monitored. 
The new Ussher Library is stunning with an open atrium spanning 6 floors.  Our guide, Shonagh, pointed out architectural issues which affect sound travel etc.  The staff have two of these floors and are complained about by the students!  Trinity has several special collections such as their map collection and Irish history donations.  One donor has generously provided money for a purpose-built temperature and humidity controlled map room in the basement of the Ussher and is heavily used.

We were somewhat surprised to hear that the staff receive around 30 applications from outside readers every day for consultation of their collections.  This seems very steep but, being a copyright library, it is to be expected.  The collections are far from being catalogued online and so it is necessary for researchers etc. to come in person to the library to find out what they hold.

'Sphere within a sphere' outside the Berkeley
The layout of the three libraries didn't strike me at first as being of particular interest but Shoangh explained the pros and cons of positioning of the staircases and main exit doors so that it became clear that designing a library is nothing short of a nightmare.

 We managed to get into the Old Library to have a look at the Book of Kells, known merely as 'The Book' and we thoroughly enjoyed striding past the massive queue proclaiming to the guard that we were 'librarians' and so should be let in for free (probably one of the few perks of the job).  The commercial nature of the library was shocking (but understandable and a great source of income for the college (not the library itself)) with magnets, tea towels, aprons and ties galore.  The exhibition itself was professional in the extreme and the book protected under 3 inches of bullet proof glass and within its own secure mechanised vault lift thing...very Mission Impossible.

Upstairs in the Long Room there was another exhibition, which changes frequently and is the domain of the rare books and special collections librarians.  This one was on the School of Medicine 1711-2011 and was accompanied by the skeleton of a giant, which had been moved from elsewhere on campus to its temporary home with great care and precision and no doubt great student intrigue.
Dublin castle sign post
Inside the Beatty with cafe and shop

Chester Beaty library

Next up was Dublin Castle with the Chester Beatty Library (or Leabharlann if you want to be authentic).  This is a rich collection of mabnuscripts, prints, icons, miniature paintings, early printed books and objets d'art from countries across Asia, the Middle East, North Africa Europe (according to my leafelt) and is housed in a beautiful restored building.

The man himself
Due to the diverse nature of Beatty's collection, an art museum is attached to the library.  The museum was exhibiting the art books of Henri Matisse in conjunction with the Bank of America, who had loaned several items to the museum.  The exhibition was brief but pitched perfectly for the casual viewer with informative boards and accompanying leaflet.  Even the descriptive boards were cut out in a similar style to Matisse's artwork.  We were given a detailed account of the preparations for the exhibition andt the type of collections housed in the library from a gentleman, who turned out not just to be guarding the exhibition but someone integrally involved in its installation!
Musuem of revenue
Dublin Castle also houses a memorial garden for the Gardai and a museum of revenue aptly summarised by this image.

Our trip to Ireland was very informative and, don't worry, we had plenty of time for fun and spent a very enjoyable afternoon in Bewley's drinking tea and eating cake.  A big thank you goes to everyone who was so accommodating to us, including the railway man at Malahide station, who found the idea of train timetables a bit ludicrous and treated them as more of a guideline.
Cam23 2.0 and CPD23 posts coming soon...once I get round to looking at them (currently on holiday at home!)


No comments:

Post a Comment