Get to know Pearse Street Library
Pearse street library is a complex of services, collections, and spaces in the heart of the city and the headquarters of Dublin’s City Libraries’ service. Since its opening in 1908, it has welcomed library users, researchers and visitors from all over Ireland and abroad.
It is regarded as an important cultural service of Dublin City Council whose mission is to “provide quality services for its citizens and visitors and act to protect and promote Dublin’s distinct identity in a way that acknowledges our past and secures our future.”
At Pearse Street Library, the visitor is at once welcomed into a bright space with options to visit the branch library, view an exhibition, or attend an event in the conference space. Here, city workers browse library shelves during lunch hour, hop onto WIFI or download some of the e-resources our public libraries now offer. In the corner of the children’s library, a new generation of library users are invited into a world of stories while over in the Dublin Room, a regular programme of exhibitions ensures that our city archives and collections are brought to life in an engaging way.
Seasoned library users know that this is only the beginning of an adventure which bridges past and present. The visitor can see through the Edwardian panels to a glass lift which will bring you to the first floor and a 100-seater reading room for study and research. It’s a guiding star for those who are interested in the city from the City Charter, to the oldest maps of Dublin and city records spanning the centuries. The Dublin and Irish collections are bedfellows to the city archives, and visitors are treated to books, ephemera, image galleries and databases which offer a window on our local and national past.
Here, the researcher can trace their family tree, look up headlines from the day they were born and read Irish authors now faded into memory. It’s not uncommon for library staff to be contacted from all over the world about a photo from the image gallery someone has seen online of a Dublin street they lived and played on.
Our city library service supports the literary life of the city and was central in the bid for Dublin to be awarded UNESCO City of Literature status. Library staff manage Dublin UNESCO City of Literature Office and the International Dublin Literary Award from the city libraries’ headquarters at Pearse Street. The literary award is announced every June to a writer whose book was nominated by librarians from all over the world. We are celebrating the 25th year anniversary of this award which is the highest monetary prize for a work of fiction in English or translated into English. The American writer, Emily Ruskovich won it in 2019 for Idaho.
You shouldn’t judge the book by the cover or the library by its front. This traditional looking library with its neoclassical front is the first library in the country to lend rock music instruments to teenagers, a popular initiative between Girls Rock Dublin and Dublin City libraries.
Another new asset in the collection of the library is a Home Energy Savings Kit, a collaboration between DCL and Codema, Dublin Energy Agency which members of the public can check out to measure energy efficiency in the home.
Over 100 years ago Pearse Street Library was the first public library in Ireland to introduce open access shelving, controversial at the time. It is continually re- defining itself and plans are in place to update the reading room for researchers and adapt the ground space as a ‘living room’ for book clubs and makers. This is a library where collections and spaces offer a suite of experiences for today’s citizens as it has in the past. We welcome you to explore and discover all that it has to offer.