In a city synonymous with literature and history, it’s only natural that we feel the need to discover some of its libraries and literary haunts. Whether you’re in the market for a new library card, need somewhere quiet to study, or have yet to feast your eyes on the arcaded arches of the Long Room at Trinity College, Libraries in Dublin are worth a visit.
Read in the same library as Bram Stoker did in 1866, find the book your looking for among 12 million items at the National Library of Ireland, and browse surrounded by the neo-Georgian architecture at Rathmines Library. Dublin bibliophiles are spoilt for choice when it comes to seeking out “the studious silence of the library.”
1. The National Library of Ireland
It’s hard to miss the spectacular dome capping the NLI’s reading room at 7/8 Kildare Street. You may have even read about Dublin’s librarial treasure in the ninth episode of James Joyce’s Ulysses. Opened in 1890, the building on Kildare Street was acquired to house the NLI’s rapidly expanding collections. The National Library of Ireland has collaborated with government departments and universities leading to remarkable outcomes, including the Seamus Heaney: Listen Now Again exhibition.
📚 7-8 Kildare St, Dublin 2
2. Marsh’s Library
Which celebrated Irish writer hasn’t walked through Marsh’s Library’s galleries? James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, and Jonathan Swift, to name a few, were all readers at one time in this world-famous library. Marsh’s Library was one of the first public libraries in Dublin when it opened in 1707. With an impressive collection of over 25,000 books and 300 manuscripts, the space is still used for its original purpose. Visitors are welcome to enter the library and read as they would have three centuries ago.
📚 St Patrick’s Close, Dublin 8
3. Pearse Street Library
Built in 1909, Pearse Street Library’s construction was financially supported by Andrew Carnegie, an American philanthropist. It houses the Dublin and Irish collection which includes Irish daily newspapers and periodicals dating back to the 18th century. You can visit the downstairs public library and gain access to the reading room. The library is also known for its impressive music collection consisting of music recordings and literature.
📚 144 Pearse St, Dublin 2
4. The Long Room at The Old Library
Although libraries in Dublin boast some pretty spectacular bookshelves, nothing quite compares to the Long Room at Trinity College Dublin. You can smell the faint vanilla scent of ancient books and aging leather from the moment you reach the top of the stairs. After being greeted by the white marble busts of great philosophers and writers lining either side of the room, we challenge you to not get a crick in your neck from gazing up at the upper gallery bookcases.
📚 College Street, Dublin 2
5. The Berkeley Library
The Berkeley Library stands out among its historic counterparts thanks to its contemporary charm. Concrete walls, a flat roof, and a boxy appearance, this library seems like nothing to write home about. However, there is an ineffable cosiness to its unassuming appearance. The building, named after Bishop George Berkeley (1687-1753), was built in 1967 and represents the modern side of Trinity College Dublin. Discover one of the less conventional libraries in Dublin.
📚 College Street, Dublin 2
6. Phibsboro Library
Transport yourself back in time inside this 1930s Art Deco and Georgian-style public library in Phibsboro. Red brick walls, terracotta sills, and a panelled double-leaf door are some of the spectacular features showcasing the library’s traditional beauty. If you live nearby and are looking for somewhere quiet to study or read, Phibsboro Library is a sweet escape from the outside world.
📚 Blacquiere Bridge, North Circular Road, Phibsboro, Dublin 7
7. Rathmines Library
Students usually flock to Rathmines Library for a peaceful space to study. Again, financed in part by Andrew Carnegie, the library has a classical facade completed with William Morris stained glass. Beyond the aesthetic beauty of the building, Rathmines Library has a lot of practical aspects to be appreciated. Make the most of its reading spaces, free wifi, printing and photocopying services, and books on nearly any topic you can think of.
📚 1 Rathmines Rd Lower, Leinster Rd, Rathmines, Dublin 6
8. dlr LexIcon
Shortly after opening in 2014, this public library and cultural centre in Dún Laoghaire won the award for Best Public Building at the LAMA Community and Community & Council Awards 2015. dlr LexIcon is a feat of modern architecture planted between the town and coastline. Explore the four-storey building, read in an intimate space or attend a literary event—they organise plenty! Primarily running on renewable energy, dlr LexIcon is housing 80,000 items and 100 study spaces.
📚 Queen’s Rd, Dún Laoghaire, Dublin
9. The Library Project
Discover “Ireland’s Art Bookshop” at the heart of Temple Bar and be dazzled by its versatility. Not only is it an art bookshop with a gallery space, but it is also a public resource library of over 1,000 photobooks. The Liberary Project welcomes visitors to learn more about local and international contemporary art. Regular exhibitions, events, and access to various publications, particularly photography-related, makes this cultural hub special.
📚 4, Temple Bar, Dublin 2