City Library and Services

Draft Sketch Design City Library at Parnell Square Cultural Quarter. Image © Dublin City Council




The library will be a window on the world of knowledge and culture, a centre of learning and literature, a commune of research and reading and a hub of ideas and creativity.


The new City Library will serve the 1.2 million population of the Greater Dublin Area, attracting an estimated 3,000 visitors a day. It will inspire and excite, welcome and include with collections, connections, places, services and programmes for learners, readers, researchers, for children and families, for all citizens. It will be a place to learn, create and participate.


Dubliners are visiting libraries in greater numbers to read, relax, study, research and participate in cultural and learning programmes. The Coláiste Mhuire site at 23 – 28 Parnell Square offers an opportunity to provide the contemporary library service which the new City Library will need, with approximately 8,000m² of space to be provided for a combination of large open spaces for lending and reading and intimately-scaled rooms for studying and working.



The City Library at Parnell Square will offer traditional library services such as book, DVD and audio lending for all ages, as well as reference collections in a diverse range of formats for leisure and learning. It will expand the traditional mould with new young people’s learning and recreational areas, exhibition spaces, conference facilities and cafés. The City Library will support individual and collaborative learning at all stages of life from pre-school to PhD. It will include an IT-rich Digital Library Learning Suite that will include space for self-directed IT-based learning and small group spaces for mentoring and learning support.Music will be supported through the creation of a Music Hub where music collections will be supplemented with a range of facilities for community use. The library will be child and family friendly throughout, with safe, welcoming and inspiring spaces. Facilities and services will be designed to support the development of independent reading skills and a love of books and reading that will last a lifetime. The City Library will be a meeting place both for people and ideas. The City Library will help job-seekers and support small business entrepreneurs through the Innovation Hub. The Storyhouse will support emerging writers and engage with readers.The library will be accessible to all, embracing multiple cultures with collaborative and showcase spaces available to the community. In particular it will welcome and reach out to those who may not see libraries and culture as something for them, providing orientation and support for newly arrived residents and tourists. It will support these aims by providing a range of new meeting facilities for Dublin, from informal gathering points and a café through to more formal meeting rooms and a conference/ auditorium space capable of seating 200 people, that will allow large groups to meet and will be at the heart of the library lecture and performance programme and the wider Cultural Quarter programme of activities.


The existing Dublin Central Library is located in the Ilac Shopping Centre on Henry Street. Opened on 14 July 1986, the library is a popular, well used and vibrant space; however its facilities are cramped and out-dated and do not represent an expression of civic pride in the city. They can no longer meet the city’s needs in terms of space, access, learning, facilities or sustainability.

The need for a new City Library for Dublin is articulated in


What is the stars? A Development Plan for Dublin City Public Libraries, 2012 – 2016 (pdf):


“The establishment of a 21st century city library for Dublin is the key civic infrastructural objective for the capital city in the lifetime of this development plan. This objective was identified in the Programme for Library Development 1996   – 2001, in Dublin: A City of Possibilities 2000 – 2012 and also included in The Arts and Cultural Strategy 2004, adopted by Dublin City Council. It was likewise highlighted in the city’s successful bid for designation as a UNESCO City of Literature.
The establishment of the Dublin city library will represent the third point in Dublin City Public Libraries’ triangular campus management model, providing for the key elements of literature and learning, music and information services.”


LEARN, CREATE and PARTICIPATE at the City Library




The new City Library will be at the heart of the literary life of the capital and the emerging Cultural Quarter, with a StoryHouse displaying and celebrating the library’s special collection of rare editions and research material relating to Irish literature and theatre history. The StoryHouse will be a dynamic space where new ideas in writing, publishing, reading and experience of the written word can be explored and developed through original and creative programming.  It will showcase Dublin’s unique literary heritage, its status as a UNESCO City of Literature, and promote its dynamic contemporary scene.  It will be a hub for writers, translators, illustrators and readers. It will provide spaces for informal and open performances, talks by authors and poets and spaces for residencies covering many aspects of the worlds of literature – for writers, poets, translators, illustrators and more. Read more about UNESCO Dublin City of Literature.



The City Library will offer spaces that support, encourage and nourish innovation and entrepreneurship in the city. The Innovation Hub will provide business know-how and physical spaces to support start-up businesses as well as formal classes and mentoring services. Practical support in the form of free WiFi, work space, specialist reference material and professional guidance will help re-imagine and reinvigorate business services in the City Library. Visitors to the Innovation Hub will be able to access a suite of high quality business resources as well as a ‘commons’ space for exchange of ideas, support, networking and independent and collaborative co-working.



The Music Hub will consist of a blend of physical and digital resources. It will house the City Library’s Music Collection and will provide additional access to the library’s digital music collection that will also be available in the Digital Media Hub. The Music Hub will provide digital and print music lending and reference services, listening facilities, instrument self-learning facilities, music recitals and other events.



The Digital Library will support access to the City Library’s digital collections as well as helping library users to create and test bed their own digital content and services. It will provide learning across all ages, working in partnership with Dublin’s digital hub and digital industries and bringing the Libraries’ collections to the world. Computers will be available for individual research, learning and creative activities, as well as a range of collaborative learning and work areas.

The Learning Suite will offer a wide range of self directed learning opportunities both in the library and remotely via the Internet, seeking to meet the explosion in demand for autonomous learning. Courses will be planned and designed in response to user demand and emerging requirements. A number of seating areas and group discussion settings will be provided, suitable for use for language tutorials and other activities.


Read the new City Library brochure Dublin City Library at Parnell Square Cultural Quarter (pdf)



Dublin’s current Central Library is home to a diversity of service options. The library provides lending and reference collections in various formats. Adult Library collections include fiction, non-fiction and an extensive reference collection. Books in the Irish language and many other languages, including Polish, Russian and Chinese are available. The Children’s Library is a vibrant well-used space with books, DVDs and audio books, offering electronic and print-based homework resources, as well as space to study.

The Business Information Centre is a reference service specialising in company and market research information. It is a key resource for those starting a business, seeking employment skills and opportunities, accessing newspapers and doing research. The Music Library offers CDs and DVDs for loan, sheet music and tutor material, listening facilities and a piano keyboard for self-learning. The Open Learning Centre is a busy learning hub, offering online language learning programmes, computer learning and a reference collection for learners of English.

Operating beyond capacity, the library has approximately 500,000 visits every year and offers a 54 hour service every week. In 2013 the Central Library provided over 155,000 internet access and language learning sessions, hosted 1013 events including class visits, reading groups and enterprise supports. Almost 300,000 books, DVDs and other items were borrowed from the library in 2013.


Learn more about Dublin City Library services at