Discover your National Library: Explore, Reflect, Connect - new exhibition now open

The Library’s new exhibition, Discover your National Library: Explore, Reflect, Connect provides a unique opportunity for the public to view first-hand a representative selection of the Library’s holdings – the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of Irish documentary material numbering almost eight million items including maps, prints, drawings, manuscripts, photographs, books, newspapers and periodicals.

Among the artefacts to go on display are rare manuscripts such as the Book of Maguaran dating from the Middle Ages and a deed signed by Sir Walter Raleigh. There are also curiosities such as a 1795 lottery ticket (we don’t know if it won), and more contemporary items such as a set of cigarette cards illustrated by Jack Yeats from the 1920s.

Cigarette Cards - Ephemera CollectionCigarette Cards - Ephemera Collection

2009 marked the Bogs Commission bicentenary, an event which the exhibition celebrates by focusing on the achievements of the 18th century and early 19th century pioneers who managed to produce large and very detailed maps of Ireland’s bogs in the period before the advent of the Ordnance Survey. The effort to survey the bogs was driven by the need to see if it was feasible to grow crops such as corn or hemp on Ireland’s bogs, at a time when the English government was fighting the Napoleonic wars and suffering economic shortages.

Throughout, the exhibition makes extensive use of digital media, with special features including a series of screened talks by the Library’s curators describing the significance or importance of certain exhibition items. One of the most popular features is an interactive table using Microsoft Silverlight technology, which enables the visitor to zoom in on images of objects from the collections which can be seen in amazing detail. Images are tagged in such a way that if the visitor finds an item they are particularly interested in, the technology automatically links them to other similar items likely to be of interest. Discover your National Library opened at 2-3 Kildare Street, Dublin on 20 January 2010. Admission is free.

You can download our press release below:

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