Strategy 2015-2020: A Vision for a 21st Century Research Library

Research libraries are leaders in the democratisation of content and need to move beyond the digitisation of their collections to becoming digital entities in themselves to secure their futures, according to Helen Shenton, Librarian and Archivist at Trinity College Dublin who spoke at the launch of a new strategy for the Library on Thursday, October 8th, 2015.

Media Coverage:

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In the new strategy, the Library of Trinity College Dublin outlines steps it will take to help define the nature and role of a major research library in the 21st Century. The largest library in Ireland, the Library of Trinity College Dublin has over 6 million printed volumes with collections reflecting over 400 years of research. Every year over 750,000 people visit the Book of Kells and the Long Room and there are over 2 million virtual visitors to the Library.

“Trinity has a tradition of innovation – it was the first library in Ireland to automate its catalogue, was the first to integrate conservation, was a pioneer in devising an exhibition around a single item. So now, in that Trinity tradition, we must innovate — in both the virtual and physical realms — to create the Library that ensures our multiple communities progress and flourish,” Helen Shenton, explained.

“Making material available is in the very DNA of libraries. However, libraries are undergoing massive shifts in how they operate. They are moving beyond the simple digitisation of their collections to becoming digital entities themselves. There is also a commensurate social shift in the use of library space as learning spaces, cultural spaces and communal spaces. Our vision is for Trinity Library to be the physical and virtual ‘go-to’ place to learn, to research, to study unique collections and showcase the impact of Trinity’s research to the world.”

Among initiatives outlined in the strategic plan is the development of 21st-century physical and virtual exhibitions of Library treasures and an enhancement of facilities to allow for greater global access to research collections. The Library will also accelerate access to digital content and enhance search tools to help Library content be available and connected to relevant information outside the University. It will also expand its range of services to enhance online learning.

Other plans include a longitudinal study of virtual and physical interactions with the Library and real-time heat-mapping survey of how people use the Library’s collections. It will also conduct analysis of how the Library contributes to the University’s reputation, performance and ranking and undertake data analysis on the Library’s economic and non-monetary impact on Trinity, Dublin and Ireland.

Also at the launch event the Library announced a programme of public talks, seminars and symposia for 2015 and 2016. Entitled The Library of the Future; the Future of the Library the programme is designed to stimulate debate on the future of libraries.

Highlights of this programme include a public interview with author John Banville focusing on humanities research and the creative process, a public discussion on The Future of Monographs in a World of Open Access led by Professor Geoffrey Crossick, distinguished Professor of the Humanities, School of Advanced Study, University of London and a light installation projected on to the 1937 Reading Room of the names and portraits for some of the Trinity students, staff and alumni who died in World War 1.

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