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National Library of Ireland welcomes Government’s announcement of capital investment
Featured, Press Releases | 18th November 2015

PRESS RELEASE

Wednesday, 18th November 2015

National Library of Ireland welcomes Government’s announcement of capital investment

The National Library of Ireland (NLI) has today (18.11.15) welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys T.D., of the development of a major new capital investment plan for the NLI’s historic Kildare Street premises. The investment will be delivered as a phased programme of works in partnership with the Office of Public Works (OPW).

The redevelopment will be funded under the Department’s capital programme as part of the Government’s recently announced ‘Building on Recovery’ capital investment plan. The Minister has earmarked an allocation of €10 million to fund the first phase of the redevelopment works.

The redevelopment will address the following key areas for the NLI:

  • Refurbishment of the 1890s building to meet modern standards for universal access, fire prevention, health and safety, circulation, security, mechanical and electrical services, and environmental sustainability;
  • Upgrading and enhancement of visitor and reader facilities;
  • Upgrading the conditions in which heritage collections are kept;
  • Improvement of both access and security;
  • Upgrading and rationalisation of operational areas; and
  • Provision of better linkages throughout the Library’s extended buildings complex.

Making the announcement Minister Humphreys said: “The National Library currently holds a significant amount of its collection in an historic Victorian era building, which is badly in need of upgrading and modernisation. So I am delighted that, thanks to the economic recovery, we are now in a position to invest in this vital cultural institution and address decades of under-investment in the National Library.

“This investment will help transform the Library into a world class facility for the storage and display of some of our most important historical documents. Today’s announcement will not only allow the Library to deliver on its core objectives of protecting and conserving the national collection, it will also enable it to develop its place as a venue for research, culture, learning and tourism.

“The redevelopment will upgrade existing storage facilities, address fire safety concerns, improve visitor areas and offer new reader spaces and experiences which will accommodate 21st century digital engagement as well as traditional readers. Today’s announcement is another significant investment by this Government in our National Cultural Institutions. The National Gallery is undergoing a major redevelopment, while significant upgrades are also getting underway at the National Concert Hall and the National Archives.”

Commenting on the announcement, Director of the National Library of Ireland, Dr Sandra Collins, said: “We are delighted to welcome today’s announcement by Minister Humphreys of the development of a capital investment plan for the National Library of Ireland. We are very grateful to the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the OPW for their commitment and support on this important issue.

“The Library’s challenges have been well documented and over recent years the Library has been very resilient in the face of limited resources and funding reductions. Today’s announcement will now enable the Library to develop its plans to become an exemplary 21st century modern library for our historic and unparalleled collections, and to be a living space for collaboration, research and culture – for scholars, the public and visitors from across the world and will affirm the Library’s position at the heart of Ireland’s culture, learning and society now and for many years to come.”

Welcoming the announcement, the Chair of the NLI Board Mr Paul Shovlin said: “The Library’s ambition is to preserve and develop its historic role as an institution for learning, culture, and research and as an intellectual and social meeting place where people of all kinds can work together on common projects or can pursue their own individual interests and lifelong learning. To achieve this, the Library will place people at the heart of our planning and open up the buildings to ensure that they are welcoming, accessible and safe for all. The Library will combine the best of the past, especially the iconic Reading Room, which has so many historic and literary associations, with the best of the present, all with the aim of providing an excellent library experience.”

ENDS

Contact: Sarah Harte, DHR Communications, Tel: 01-4200580 / 087-9858259

Media queries:

Press and Information Office

Tel: 087 6737338 / (01) 631 3807 / 3838 / 3848 (direct)

E-Mail: press.office@ahg.gov.ie

Web site: www.ahg.gov.ie

Twitter: @DeptAHG

Note to Editors

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.  It is open, free of charge, to all those who wish to consult the collections.  The Office of the Chief Herald in Kildare Street and the National Photographic Archive in Temple Bar are both part of the National Library.  Further information is available at www.nli.ie, @NLIreland.

Background Information:

History of the National Library of Ireland

  • The National Library of Ireland was established by statute in 1877, when the library of the Royal Dublin Society, founded in 1731, was re-designated the National Library of Ireland. The Library had been housed since 1815 along with the Society itself, in Leinster House, now home to the Houses of the Oireachtas.
  • Following the Act of 1877, a new building was constructed for the National Library adjacent to Leinster House and opened in 1890. In a cost saving measure, the original full design of the building was left incomplete, and was eventually only partially completed in 1926.
  • The Library’s many collections fast outgrew the space available in the 1890s building; additional accommodation was provided in the 1980s and 90s at 2-5 Kildare Street, which houses the Library’s Manuscripts Department,  in the National Photographic Archive in Temple Bar and in three large offsite stores.

The NLI 1890s Building

  • The 1890s building was at the forefront of library design in its time, especially in having a purpose built storage block behind its long façade on Kildare Street. However the many changes that have occurred since 1890 –  in environment, building technologies,, health and safety standards, universal access standards, information technology,  best practice in libraries – and the growth and development of the National Library’s collections and services, mean that the original Kildare Street building needs to be substantially refurbished and remodelled to meet modern requirements.  Refurbishment of the 1890s National Library building on Kildare Street, both in terms of its fabric, and its layout, has been a key objective for the Library for the last two decades and more.
  • Progress was made under the direction of the then Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism and the Office of Public Works in the 1990s and 2000s, including an extension into part of the building formerly occupied by the National College of Art and Design. This substantial investment provided the Library with a new exhibition area housing major Joyce and Yeats exhibitions, a public cafe and public events space, and a Prints and Drawings Department.   It also revealed the potential of the Library to serve citizens and visitors by means of exhibitions and cultural programmes building on core library services.
  • However the difficulties with the original 1890s block fronting onto Kildare Street and the Leinster House forecourt continued to be a problem particularly with regard to the safe housing of the Library’s unique and valuable collections, and the dispersed layout of the Library spread over seven separate buildings in Kildare Street causes operational challenges in providing services for the public.