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Dublin: 7°C Friday 27 November 2020

Ireland's Catholic Library is trying to negotiate a move - and its members aren't happy

The Dublin-based library houses about 70,000 items, many of which are centuries old.

shutterstock_374846755 File Photo Source: Shutterstock/Anna Baburkina

DUBLIN’S CENTRAL CATHOLIC Library is trying to negotiate a move from its current location – and the news has sparked a protest from its members.

The Irish Catholic reports that the library’s board is evenly split regarding the move, while as many as 50 of the library’s members protested outside the building on Wednesday 22 June.

Negotiations are in train to move the library’s holdings from its current Merrion Street headquarters in the capital to the new St Patrick’s College campus at Dublin City University (DCU) on Dublin’s northside.

The library, home to roughly 70,000 pieces, many of which are centuries old and require dedicated conservation, is facing serious cash struggles as it aims to stay afloat.

Founded in 1922, the library is entirely self-funded, with utility overheads covered by the rent and sale of properties owned by the institution. It is open to the public at all times.


It’s understood that DCU is just one of many academic institutions that the library had been in negotiations with. The library members’ protest is thought to stem from the idea of moving the library’s contents to a secular institution.

Cclbuilding The Central Catholic Library building on Merrion Square, Dublin city centre Source: Wikimedia Commons

“It isn’t quite the case that we are going to move,” a source at the library told TheJournal.ie.

I mean there is no question that this would be put to our members at a special general meeting after the AGM. At present there are negotiations regarding a move, nothing more.
The point is, in four days this week the library has had one visitor. Back in the 40s we might have had 15,000 visitors a year. That just isn’t sustainable.

The same source said that as “the news got around” before the library could contact its members, many of them were mislead as to the nature of what was happening.

“A document was to be put to them in due course,” they said.

In 1946 the library maintained itself. That simply isn’t the case now. The company’s incomes haven’t changed, and there is the maintenance of a building on Merrion Square to factor in.
But most of all – this is an important Catholic collection. This shouldn’t be a controversial case. There are important documents here that need to be conserved in a proper scientific manner and we don’t have the money to do so.

The library’s AGM was due to be held on 22 June but was postponed “for a number of reasons”, company secretary David McEllin told the Irish Catholic.

By law that AGM must take place no later than September of this year.

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