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#LetsLookAfterOurBooks - Marsh's Library Dublin

We're an Enlightenment-era library looking for your help in book conservation

  • £3,576

    pledged of £6,500

    • 3


    • 0


Completion Date: Sun 14 Aug 2016

What are we doing?

We're raising money in order to be able to conserve three special items from our collections. It's that simple!

Who are we?

Marsh's Library is an Enlightenment-era library, situated in Dublin, that has been open to the public since 1707 - in fact, it was the first-ever public library in Ireland! Through the years, we've had thousands of people cross our threshold in the pursuit of knowledge and in the name of research - including Bram Stoker, Jonathan Swift, and James Joyce.

Nowadays, the Library functions in a more museum-like capacity (although we still welcome researchers), and people come from far and wide to see us - we had over 20,000 visitors in 2014!

campaign update

We were delighted and amazed to reach our original goal of €3,115 in the first five days of our campaign. This incredible success, wholly down to the generosity of the public, means that our three campaign books will soon be heading to the conservation lab!

The original deadline that we set ourselves to raise the money needed for our Newton, Milton treatises, and astrological debates was the 18th of October - a timeline of one month - and that still stands. We'd love if you would help us to raise further funds for the conservation of other books in the remaining time our campaign has left.

We've picked out a small selection of really fascinating items that could do with some TLC. Any extra money that we raise between now and the 18th will go towards the conservation fund of one (or more!!) of these books - closer to the time, perhaps you can help us decide which one of these books it will be! 

We hope you'll continue to spread the word and donate to our cause - #LetsLookAfterOurBooks!

These are the other books we'd like to conserve:

1)The Discovery of Witchcraft, by William Brome, c.1584. This book discusses the different means of trickery used by those pretending to practice the witch's craft. It's thought that a version of this text was read by William Shakespeare while he was writing the witches scenes in Macbeth.

2. A volume from Blaeu's Atlas Major, dated from 1662, covering the continent of America. The colours and artwork within are spectacularly preserved - conservation work is required on the spine and bindings.

3. 14th-century bible Biblia Sacra Latine

4. This volume contains two separate texts, both requiring differing levels of conservation. If this book is chosen as a recipient for some of the conservation funds raised, it is likely that for the time being, only one text will receive conservation work. The two texts are: 

(a) Curia Dominae Reginae Eliz. de Esker & Cromling

Proceedings of the Queen's manor courts of Esker and Crumlin, in county Dublin 1592-1600

(b) Minutes of Courts Martial held in Dublin, 1651-1653.

Taken by Dudley Loftus, these texts record the punishment doled out to Cromwellian soldiers for various misdeeds and misdemeanors during their time in Ireland.

So really - what are we doing?

The majority of the Library's collections comprise of books and manuscripts dating from between the 15th - 18th centuries - the oldest book we have dates from the 1400s! As you can guess, our books' great ages means that they often need a little looking after - and some more so than others.

The Library has a small on-site conservation lab where items can be prepped to go on exhibition, or receive general conservation work. Though we have access to this wonderful resource, the amount of work of this nature that we can afford to do is entirely dependent on external donations. Every single cent the Library receives from  members of the public goes towards the conservation of our collections.

There are thousands of items in our collections that need some form of work. For this campaign we have selected three especially fascinating volumes that we would love your help in conserving.

These are:

- A first-edition of Isaac Newton's Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, dating from 1686. Newton's Principia was the work in which he discussed his famed law of gravitation and laws of motion, and is considered one of the most historically significant scientific works ever written.

- A volume of John Milton treatises dating from 1644, which includes copies of his famed works such as 'Of Education', 'The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce', and the Areopagitica - one of the earliest defences of the right to a free press.

- A volume of debates for and against the use of astrology in matters of politics and state, dating from the early 1600s, and including a work by the English academic John Chamber. This book in particular is known to have been read by Bram Stoker, and deals with the use of astrology and magic in the prediction of political events - a dangerous occupation for those involved in its practice.

Each of these books requires a substantial amount of conservation work, and it is our hope that you will help us in ensuring they can receive the treatment they need! 

Where will the money go?

Our target of €3115 is the minimum needed to conserve the three books we have chosen. All of the money raised regardless of whether or not this target is reached will go towards the conservation of these books.

Conservation Costs

Principia: €990

Milton Volume: €1076

Astrological Debates: €1049

Though the costs of the materials needed to conserve these items is comparatively low (for example, the materials needed for the Principia are estimated to cost just €45), the real financial burden of conservation lies in the length of time that is needed to achieve results - the conservation work itself.  

Conservation is a notoriously slow and meticulous process - easily taking months at a time. All who pledge money to this campaign can be assured that they will receive regular updates on the progress of the books, and will be notified when their work is finished - obviously we'll want to show everyone the results of their generosity!

Any extra funds raised from this campaign will go directly towards the conservation of other items in the Library's collections - and we'll let you know what will be next in line if this occurs!

Our campaign Twitter (@MarshCampaigns) will be regularly updated with information on our progress, so be sure to follow us so you can stay up to date! You can also contact us at fundraising@marshlibrary.ie with any comments or queries you might have.


Everyone who donates €5 and above will receive a reward in kind. We're really excited to see you all enjoy them!

Keep in touch

The Library's official website can be found at www.marshlibrary.ie - here you can find out all about the Library itself, and our different events and exhibitions! We can also be found on Facebook (facebook.com/MarshLibrary) and Twitter (@MarshsLibrary).

For specific updates about our campaign, and to find out more about why and what we're doing, you can find us on Twitter @MarshCampaigns.

Help us succeed!

Money can be tight - we've first-hand experience. If you don't think you can pledge to our cause, but would like to help, there's one incredibly simple step you can take - talk about us!

Getting the word out there about who we are, what we're doing (and why) is an invaluable contribution that anyone can make. Please share this project with anyone who you think might be interested - on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, by email, telephone, in a chat over the fence or on your blog. Better yet - take a day to come and give us a visit with your friends, family, or just by yourself! 

And we know we said you don't need to give money to help us, but we'd love it if you did! Please sponsor us and help make this happen.