Saturday, July 21, 2012

Trinity College

Trinity College exterior.
During our trip to Ireland, I had the chance to visit the beautiful Trinity College campus in Dublin. This is an amazing place to visit. Among its famous graduates are Oscar Wilde, Jonathan Smith, and Bram Stoker.

It was eye opening to hear about all the different traditions and educational culture that are so different from what I have gotten to experience at public schools in the United States.

One very important thing I learned is that Irish, a Gaelic dialect, is the official language of Ireland. All the students that enter the University there must be fluent, which is not too hard, since they study it throughout grade school.

Line for the Book of Kells.
Photo provided by
Since I was so intrigued by the college, I decided to visit both libraries, the modern academic library and the Old Library. The two libraries of very different architecture attract a very different kind of guest. Visitors from all over the world flock to Trinity's Old Library to visit the ancient illuminated texts, the Book of Kells, Book of Mulling, and Book of Dimma.

Admission to the Old Library is 9 Euro. Donations are also accepted for book preservation, and the library has a large gift shop that greets guests and sends them off.

The exhibition spaces are are very nicely designed and include a great deal of background information about the manuscripts.
There are short videos that also depict the process of making and preserving the manuscripts. One video shows the writing of Latin in ink on vellum in the way that monks would have done.

Modern university library at Trinity.
The long room was a dramatic scene with high ceilings and galleys on either side of the room. Historic displays are arranged in the middle of the room. There were lovely photos of the long room when it was still a reading room. There were signs posted indicating that the current reading room was directly upstairs.

Adjacent to the Old Library, the Berkley Library stands in stark contrast. The modern university library is much more similar to the ones most US students have used. Most of the books are available for browsing--80% of the collection. There are signs indicating where subject areas may be found in the library. The cataloging is done in house as a mix of the Dewey and in-house additions.

Security outside library.
Much of the library's space is utilized for private and group study. Undergraduates may issue up to 4 items for 1-4 weeks. Graduate students may issue up to 10 items for up to 4 weeks. Subject librarian offices are labeled and include alternative contact  information, as well as a general work schedule. The offices are tucked within the stacks themselves.

Suggestion box for library.
Out front security is high, with a guard and there is a turnstile and metal detector. Apparently I look enough like a librarian to get a wave from the librarian out front. So yay! Unfortunately, the rare books collection was closed, but I loved the wooden suggestion box out front. 

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