Held in high esteem as the country’s library of record since 1877, the National Library of Ireland (NLI) has announced a major redevelopment of its Kildare Street building. The four-year project will enhance preservation standards and the library’s public spaces and services.

Continuing its mission to collect, protect and make available the recorded memory of Ireland, the four-year redevelopment project, ‘Reimagining the National Library’, will allow the NLI to create the storage and preservation conditions necessary to keep valuable national collections safe for future generations.

The $11 milllion (€10 million) redevelopment, which is undertaken in partnership with the Office of Public Works (OPW) and funded by the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs, will also see the NLI and its patrons benefit from enhanced public spaces and services, including a brand new exhibition space, lecture room, café and much more.

Speaking at the announcement, Director of the NLI, Dr Sandra Collins said: “We are very excited about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reimagine the National Library. As Ireland’s memory-keeper, it is essential that the national collections in our care are kept safe and protected and the redevelopment works will put in place modern storage and preservation standards.

"The library is also delighted that the redevelopment will deliver on our ambition to enhance our public spaces and services. The enhanced public spaces will enable new and continued engagement with the national collections, and universal access to our services. The renovated West Wing will include a new exhibition space, a new lecture room, a public lift to all floors and a new café and retail space.

"The redevelopment of the National Library is a four-year project, with multiple phases impacting different parts of the main building at different times. We are working hard to make sure that the building works will have as little impact on our readers as possible, and the library will remain open throughout the project duration.

"At the same time, many of the collections held by the National Library have been digitised, and significant digitisation will continue throughout the refurbishment. Online access to collections will continue to be enhanced during the works.”

Designed in a classical style by Cork-born architect Thomas Deane, the historic reference library cares for more than ten million items, including books, manuscripts, newspapers, photographs, prints, maps, drawings, ephemera, music and digital media.

Speaking at the announcement at the National Library, Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys TD commented: "The Creative Ireland Programme prioritises Government investment in our cultural institutions, so I am delighted today to be unveiling the plans for this major €10 million investment package in the National Library of Ireland. It is the most significant investment in the historic section of the Kildare Street building since it was first opened in 1890.

"The redevelopment plan will not only refurbish the historic building and upgrade the storage facilities for our national collections, it will also completely transform the visitor experience at the National Library and will allow the NLI to develop further as a venue for research, culture, learning and tourism.”

To allow for enabling works to take place, some service restrictions will commence in August 2017:

  • The Main and Manuscript Reading Rooms will be closed on Mondays from 14 August.

  • The reading rooms will continue to be open all day Tuesday to Friday (with late opening until 7.45pm on Tuesday and Wednesdays as normal) and on Saturday morning.

  • All digital services, including the online catalogue, will continue to be available 24/7.

  • Access to Prints & Drawings and Ephemera Collections will be online only. The physical collections will be stored off-site for the duration of the project and physical access by researchers to the collections will not be possible.

  • 17,000 images are currently online, with more being added this summer. The NLI will continue to catalogue and digitise these collections on an ongoing basis, and requests for cataloguing and/or digitisation of particular collections by researchers should be directed to prints&drawings@nli.ie.

Find out more at www.nli.ie

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