‘A Great Many Choice Books’: 300 Years of the Old Library

Long Room, bust of Swift

The exhibition currently on view in the Long Room is part of a programme of events celebrating the tercentenary of the Old Library building, whose foundation stone was laid on 12 May 1712. The display showcases manuscripts, early printed books and College Archives from the Library’s holdings, and tells the story of the building’s construction, its collections, and the people associated with it over the centuries. Also on view are several items associated with the early Library, which was housed – it is believed – in a building where the present-day Examination Hall stands. Among the exhibition highlights are: the 12th-century West Dereham Bible; the 16th-century Book of the de Burgos; two sumptuously-illuminated 15th-century French books of hours; a first edition of Martin Luther’s Old Testament; fine bindings from the collection of the 18th-century connoisseur Henry George Quin; and books and manuscripts from the superb Fagel Library. There is also a fine 19th-century painting of the Library by J A O’Connor, which shows the building as it would have looked before any dramatic exterior alterations; as well as Library-related College records, such as catalogues, a 17th-century salary statement, tradesmen’s accounts, and photographs.

This exhibition will be on display in the Long Room, Trinity College Old Library until October 2012.

Ellen O’ Flaherty