Sunday, August 2, 2009
ACADEMIC- Marsh Public Library
The Marsh Public Library is Ireland's first public library-ever. Established in 1701, it still stands today, although it is no longer a lending library. Their website describes their mission today best: "Marsh's Library is a treasury of what might be called the European mind; it is a rich source for studying the history of ideas, the birth of new ideas, the rise of science and attacks on Christianity."
The Marsh library no longer circulates books or adds to its collection, but it is intent on keeping the spirit of its existence alive. It was born out of the belief that all citizens should have access to the written works of the time. By keeping their doors open, it is a reminder to all subsequent generations that the idea of the right to read and an education is a long-held belief of the nation and something that should not be dismissed lightly.
It was incredible to walk into this library and feel how few differences there are between this 18th century library and the public libraries of today. The stacks were set up using the traditional ladder system, but otherwise, you could see how it was set up for user friendliness. The long tables for study areas and chairs for reading would make it a comfortable reading room today.
The library hosts exhibits to keep people coming through its doors; but for this librarian the real exhibit was the library itself. There is so much to see and learn in such a small space. It makes me feel more attached than ever to the librarians of our past, the keepers of the culture of their time. It turns out, that their time is much more like our own than we would ever like to admit.
For more information about the Marsh Public Library in Ireland, click here.