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Libraries: Where the world’s memory is stored - BBC - Culture.
Trinity College Library, Dublin, Ireland

If you still have your sunglasses on, you can take them off now, because the Long Room at Trinity College Library is pleasingly low on ornamentation, and soothingly high on Enlightenment symmetries. Elizabeth I of England founded Trinity College in 1592 as a centre of Protestant scholarship, the idea being to break with the monastic tradition of learning and establish a new framework within the University of Dublin.

Because the university outgrew its first library, a new building was planned by Thomas Burgh. Known as the Old Library, it was begun in 1712 and finished in 1732. It includes a spectacular 65m (215 ft)-long central space known as the Long Room; the original flat roof of the single-storey room was raised in 1858 and replaced with the oak barrel-vaulting that exists today.

The Long Room’s oak shelves hold 200,000 of the university’s most valuable books. Among the intellectual worthies whose busts are ranked along the bookshelves are Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett, both of whom once used the library. (There are no women.) The library’s treasures include illuminated masterpieces such as the Book of Durrow (c 650–700) and the Book of Kells (c 800).

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