The Old Library at Trinity College

The Old Library at Trinity College Dublin is a part of the Book of Kells exhibition and is the most stunning library I’ve been in. As it is one of the top tourist spots in Dublin and I am allowed free access for myself and guests, I have ventured into it quite a few times now. The long room has been open since the mid 1700s and consists of over 200,000 books of all subjects and sizes that are still in use today. A couple of things that really have stood out to me at the library.

First, each day, students are hired to polish the books to preserve the library and keep the books at the best condition. The conscious effort to retain and encourage the arts and literature in Europe has always been something that caught my attention. The depth of the history is so vast and the arts seem of such great importance in the historic culture. In today’s digital age, many arts have gone digital with design, photography, etc. being largely on digital devices. Often I think this can lose the significance as it is harder to appreciate someone’s calligraphy or paintings from an Instagram page. For me though, seeing something in person that was physically painted, or reading a paper bound book just has this deeper connection. That is why I love to see the attention to detail and care that is put into the Book of Kells as they preserve the books each and every day, as 200,000 is a lot to keep up with.

Secondly, the books are organized throughout the library by size and weight. A law book could be next to a philosophy book next to a science book. This is different than many libraries I’ve been to that are 000 to 900 with each 100 marking a different subject class for the books. The way of organization struck me because it was unique. Things don’t always have to be done as what is normal or standard; finding the way that works best for you is a rewarding experience. Organizing by subject isn’t always the most helpful in life or books. If you reflect on our lives, letting life’s “subjects” bleed into each other can provide incredible growth within our social, professional and family sections of our lives. For example, when I’m able to introduce friends from different chapters of my life to one another and they become friends by their own right, it has been one of my favorite things in life.

I like physical objects and organizing my chaotic life outside of everything on my Google Drive and Calendar. I’m trapped behind the bars of the digital age, but at least I can taste what life used to be. Thanks to the Book of Kells for the reminder of the beauty in the tangible, the works of art and literature laid out on a page.


Jake SiegertComment