Welcome to our world

July 8, 2011 · 12 comments

in Director's Posts

Fiona Ross with bestselling authors Cathy Kelly and Sinead Moriarty in our main Reading Room looking at some bestselling 18th & 19th century novels

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. …”

Thomas W. Lyster, Librarian 1895-1920, pictured in his office in 1897. He appeared in the episode of James Joyce's Ulysses set in the National Library, "Scylla and Charybdis".

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

lia July 25, 2012 at 1:34 pm

from the headstone in the church of st. george, grange sylvae, goresbridge, co. kilkenny.

Sacred to the memory of
Thomas Lyster
Who died dec. 30. 1891 aged 63 years
and of his wife
Jane Lyster
Who died 24 june 1901 aged 71 years
also of their children
Katherine Rebecca
Who died feb 18 1866 aged 7 years
And Frederick Aquila
Who died march 5 1866 aged 6 years
And of their daughter Nellie
Who died aug 311908
Also their son Thomas W. Lyster M.A
SEN. MOD. T.C.D. Librarian National
Library Ireland died dec 12 1922
Buried at deansgrange dublin
And Aurthur E. Lyster M.A. SCH. T.C.D.
Died june 28 1928
Buried at newchurch I.O.W.


Bean an Phoist July 26, 2012 at 4:54 pm

Thank you for taking the trouble to post this! Never knew where “our” Thomas Lyster was buried…


Michelle July 11, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Great to see the blog up and running, though I’m somewhat disappointed all your tags aren’t also LC Subject headings! 😉


Bean an Phoist July 11, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Still in therapy from Wordpress wrangling without LC Subject Headings added to the mix! Guaranteed to have pitchfork-wielding cataloguers descend on Library Towers… 😉


Angela Kraft July 10, 2011 at 3:14 am


I was wondering if you would be able to have a subscribe button for email, instead of the RSS feed? I would love to follow you, but your RSS feed says it doesn’t have any format.



Bean an Phoist July 11, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Hi Angela, just wondering what browser you’re using…


Jennifer Geraghty-Gorman July 9, 2011 at 10:53 am

Congratulations on your beautiful new blog!

Thank you for taking the time to produce it from those of us who are already big fans of the library. Looking forward to many Wordless Wednesdays, or Taciturn Tuesdays, or any other ‘days-o-the week’.
Love Darragh’s idea of “this day in…”.

Cheers to all of you,


Sharon July 9, 2011 at 12:10 am

Looking forward to reading your posts here in Australia. Love Darragh’s idea.


Ruth Blair July 8, 2011 at 7:12 pm

Congratulations on your new blog! I live in Canada and your digital collections have been extremely useful and the blog is a welcome addition. I look forward to learning more.


Bean an Phoist July 8, 2011 at 4:10 pm

Oh, and look at me, venturing out in public without an avatar! Morto! Any suggestions for an avatar for Bean an Phoist??


Darragh Doyle July 8, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Congratulations! It’s a great step to see an organisation like yourselves do this – I’m a big fan on Facebook and Twitter so I look forward to seeing what your blog brings to us as well.

One thing I would love to see is a “this day in…” feature daily where you take a book, photograph or piece of archive material and publish it for us. I don’t think I have any concept of just how much information or resource you have and it would be fascinating to get an insight into this.

I look forward to reading more 🙂


Bean an Phoist July 8, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Hi Darragh! Brilliant idea, and we’ve been kinda toying around the edges of something like it… So watch this space – maybe we could nickname it “Darragh’s Dailies”!

Congrats and thanks for being our very first “Commenter”. Blog, eh? The one time you want people to be pass remarkable… 🙂


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