Plans submitted for six-storey extension to National Library of Ireland

The building is home to more than 12 million items including books, manuscripts, newspapers, photographs and digital media

A major refurbishment of the west wing of the National Library of Ireland in Dublin will create a publicly accessible “cultural space” as well as new exhibition and event capacity.

A planning application for the development of the Kildare Street library, which dates to 1877, has been filed by the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland.

It will incorporate new public areas over six levels spanning 1,600 square metres including a learning centre, cafe, retail and other facilities.

A six-storey extension in the rear courtyard will facilitate “universal access” to the historic, Victorian-era structure.


Officially the library of record for Ireland, the building is home to more than 12 million items including books, manuscripts, newspapers, photographs, prints, maps, drawings, ephemera, music and digital media.

Its west wing is a former book storage area and its refurbishment aims to have a strong focus on “sustainability and sensitivity” to the architectural heritage.

Dublin City Council will now consider the proposals which form part of the Government’s National Cultural Institutions Investment Programme under the National Development Plan.

The first phase of the redevelopment programme, entitled Reimagining the National Library, ran from 2017 to 2019 with the relocation of 350,000 books, newspapers and periodicals from the Victorian west wing to newly developed, safer book storage.

Dr Audrey Whitty, director of the National Library of Ireland, described the plan as the most significant investment in the building since it opened in 1890.

“This refurbishment project will be a transformational redevelopment for the NLI, enhancing our historic building for significant new uses for everyone from across our island and further afield to enjoy,” she said.

The newly created exhibition and learning spaces will be free of charge, bilingual and fully accessible.

Minister for Culture and Arts Catherine Martin TD said the legacy project would enhance the city’s appeal as a place to visit, live and work in line with the spatial goals and sustainability principles of the Project Ireland 2040 National Planning Framework.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times