The Old Library Redevelpment Project at Trinity College Dublin: sustaining and preserving the building and its collections, and providing continuity of access (Parallel Paper)

25th May 202310:35Harbour Suite 5


The Old Library Redevelopment Project ( is a once in a lifetime conservation project being undertaken to ensure that Trinity’s iconic eighteenth-century library building, housing extensive historic collections, is sustained into its fourth century.

Working with external experts, alongside internal stakeholders including Academic, Commercial, Estates and Library, the programme is complex, encompassing three co-dependent construction projects; including the complete decant of all of the Old Library’s collections, and the commitment of continuity of service to readers and visitors throughout the multi-year building closure period. The programme includes redevelopment of two protected historic structures, the development of a temporary reading room space and also an interim exhibition for the Book of Kells, as well as the use of commercial offsite low-oxygen storage for the collections. The processes used for the decant will reduce risks to the collections, improve documentation, and provide greater visibility via the online catalogue. Throughout, the Library is seeking to minimise the project’s climate impact, and re-use as many materials and items of furniture as is viable.

Susie Bioletti, Keeper of Preservation & Conservation (and lead on Library sustainability), and Laura Shanahan, Head of Research Collections, will present these aspects of the Redevelopment Project in this parallel session. Whilst describing the overall project activities, they will explore its alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals: Quality Education, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Sustainable Cities and Communities, and Climate Action. They will cover topics such as the care of collections in a historic building with a city-centre location, the fundamental sustainability act of building re-use, the employment of specialist contractors, and examples of steps being taken during the current collection decant phase to minimise carbon impact and reuse materials.