Minister of State Dr. Mansergh launches National Library of Ireland Database for Irish Research

Dr. Martin Mansergh TD, Minister of State with special responsibility for the Arts this evening (Wednesday 11th November, 2009) launched Sources, a National Library of Ireland database for Irish research.

The initiative sees the culmination of a 30-year project seeking to collect all sources of information on Ireland and the Irish covering all periods. The database includes:

All of the National Library's manuscripts catalogued up to the 1980s;
Irish manuscripts held in other libraries and archives in Ireland and worldwide, listed between the 1940s and the 1970s;
Articles, Reviews and other content that appeared in over 150 Irish periodicals up to 1969.

Subjects covered in the materials range from art, architecture and archaeology through economics and genealogy to history, politics, literature, science and zoology.

The launch of the project comes almost 70 years after Dr Richard J Hayes, Director of the National Library of Ireland from 1940 to 1967, initiated a project and led a team of researchers who produced almost 200,000 indexed references to some of the most important manuscripts and journals of Irish interest. The project resulted in two major publications: Manuscript Sources for the History of Irish Civilisation and Sources for the History of Irish Civilisation: Articles in Irish Periodicals.

Speaking at the launch of Sources, Dr. Martin Mansergh said: "This project is a very exciting addition to the Library's already impressive and rapidly expanding digital database. As always, our National Cultural Institutions are required to adapt to the world in which they operate and must embrace new technologies and new methods. The provision of access to our sources in this digital age must be provided for, through the latest technology. It is a reality that digital content now embraces much of the world's intellectual, social and cultural history, and it is safe to say that, in time, more and more material will become accessible through the digital media."

Dr. Mansergh also said: "The National Archives of Ireland has also demonstrated great progress in the provision of digital access by introducing the on-line 1901 and 1911 Censuses database, which has received 125 million hits to date. There is clearly a wide desire for digital access."

Dr. Mansergh continued: "These initiatives tie-in with the Government's ambitious smart economy plan. If we consider that the Library has increased visitor numbers to end July from 73,745 in 2008 to 79,828 this year, and taking account of the huge ongoing interest in the Archive’s Census returns, we can get some idea of the potential of placing this material on-line."

In concluding, Dr. Mansergh said: "The staff of the Library, under the management of Aongus Ó hAonghusa, the Director, and the Board under the Chairmanship of Mr. Gerry Danagher SC, is to be congratulated for making this new Sources facility available to students, scholars and all those with an interest in Ireland and the Irish."

To access Sources log onto:

Issued by Colin Toomey – (01) 631 3838

Published on: 2009-11-12

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