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To be, to log, to blog …

From the Reading Room A welcome from Academy Librarian Siobhán Fitzpatrick.

Blog, n. abbreviation for Weblog n.

Salina Journal (Kansas), 21 Apr. 2002 ‘Blogs contain daily musings about news, dating, marriage, divorce, children, politics in the Middle East…or millions of other things or nothing at all’. OED, 2003 entry, accessed 10/03/2016.

Falling into the ‘millions of other things’ category, this is the opening blog post from the RIA Library. When our intern, Sinéad Noonan, suggested starting up a blog, our library team grasped the opportunity to use blogging as another medium to convey our messages to a wide (and growing) online community. So, you ask, what are our messages?

Primarily, we communicate about our library and archive. As a core part of the Royal Irish Academy since its foundation in Dublin in 1785, [1] we hold major resources for scholars and all who wish to engage, with Ireland’s history, its language, literature, archaeology and antiquities, family history and countless other aspects of Irish life through the ages. It has always been part of our remit to promote the use of our resources and to engage with the community of scholars.

In the past this involved making the collections available to those who needed to consult them for research purposes – for example, we granted access to our collections to the Ordnance Survey (OS) staff working on the 6-inch mapping of Ireland in the nineteenth century, thereby enabling them to fact check and write up their findings. In time, the Ordnance Survey presented the bulk of the OS papers relating to the map project to the Academy.

Over the years we have encouraged the publication of these OS papers by institutions and individuals in order to make them more widely accessible. We have also digitised a huge number of the OS topographical drawings in the collections and these are accessible via our online catalogue. Things came full circle when the current Ordnance Survey generously funded the publication of Glimpses of Ireland’s past ─ the Ordnance Survey Memoir drawings: topography and technique / Angélique Day (Dublin, 2014), a publication featuring selected drawings from the OS collections. In 2014, we held an exhibition on the Survey’s contribution to Ireland since 1824 and organised a very successful free lecture series on various aspects of the Survey past and present. These lectures and others are available as podcasts on our website and are another means of bringing the collections to you, the reader/listener/information seeker wherever you may be.

Since the nineteenth century when Librarian, John T. Gilbert, promoted the production of facsimiles of our medieval manuscripts for international circulation, the Library has continued to encourage the publication of papers, monographs, diplomatic editions and facsimiles based on our resources. Since 2002 we have partnered with Irish Script on Screen (ISOS) to bring over 80 of our key Irish-language manuscripts to the web where they are freely accessible. ISOS now has over 5 million accesses a year and rising…

We have placed our Westropp 1916 photographs of Dublin on Europeana, Google and our national repository, the Digital Repository of Ireland.

We have lots of information on our collections and our work on the website – in particular see Special Collections and we regularly run news features on our Library landing page. Our Twitter feed had over 73,000 accesses in February 2016. Visit us @Library_RIA

We hope you will drop in to our blog every now and then and that it will encourage you to explore our resources and to engage with us. We intend to post a blog at least once a month.

Upcoming topics, compiled by different members of our team, will include a feature on Interning at the RIA Library; 1916; a look at the Kevin B. Nowlan archive; WW1 recruiting posters. We shall also invite guest bloggers to contribute to our musings.

We look forward to engaging with you. So, here we are. We log, we blog…

Siobhán Fitzpatrick
Academy Librarian

[1] The Academy is a learned society for the promotion of the sciences and the humanities in Ireland, with an elected membership of over 450, a publications wing, a policy unit and a mission to ensure that current issues in the sciences and humanities are debated and discussed at a strategic level. 16 March has been a key date in the Academy calendar since 1786 and is the date on which the Academy holds its primary annual general meeting.