by Fiona Ross, Director of the NLI
The National Library of Ireland was established in 1877 and the doors of our magnificent building on Kildare Street were first opened to the public 121 years ago this coming August. One of the NLI Trustees at that time, Dr. Edward Dowden (1843-1913), made a wonderful speech that articulates in a way I could never do the central role of a National Library in society.
121 years later our job is to underpin this central role in society for our National Library. Our place has been lost to some extent for various reasons, including a century of under-funding and of course, the proliferation of other sources of information and knowledge. Our definition of society has also changed and has moved far beyond those members of Dublin society who could visit our reading rooms in 1890, to now encompass a global society who we hope can visit us in our Digital Library at any time from anywhere.
We have embarked on this journey towards building a Digital Library and this blog is just one more step in our online communication. We hope it will provide a window into our world. Thank you for your ongoing interest in our wonderful Library. These are Dr. Dowden’s words, spoken in 1890, but just as true today:
“… Through the doors of this great building during centuries of future years, there will be a coming and going as of bees who are gathering and hiving their honey. In its halls, though no workman’s hammer sound, or chisel ring, there will be constant labour – the silent labour of the mind. Knowledge will be widened, forms of beauty will rise before the imagination, there will be refreshment for the weary as well as toil for the workers, and young lives will assuredly here be touched to higher issues. …”