The launch of the DCU Jesuit Library Partnership took place in All Hallows College Dublin on Tuesday 1 Oct at 4.30 pm. The Irish Jesuit Provincial Leonard Moloney SJ and Brian MacCraith, (front of photo) President of Dublin City University signed a partnership agreement in which the Jesuit Province confirmed the transfer of its renowned Milltown Park library collection to Dublin City University.
Professor MacCraith said the library would mark “a massive advance for the university but also for scholarship in general in Ireland. It will be a great resource for anyone interested in the areas covered by the library.” Daire Keogh, (photo back left) Deputy President of Dublin City University who played a key role in the negotiations surrounding the move, said the partnership “will transform the student experience”, in the university.
Professor Keogh was speaking at the launch (listen here) attended by Jesuits, colleagues, former Milltown staff, and current staff and students from DCU. He said the library transfer was not a ‘transaction’ but a ‘partnership. “Effectively what has happened is that the Milltown Park community and the Jesuit Order have decided to move their library here where we will mind it for them… It’s not about ownership but it’s a way of maximising its accessibility and again it’s a way of inviting students to engage with the collection.”
Commenting on the quality, range and academic value of the books in the library, Daire Keogh said, “It’s a hugely significant collection in terms of classical, and contemporary theological issues.” He said the library will be of great benefit to the 400 students in DCU in taught under-graduate and postgraduate studies many of whom are studying theology along with the 20 postgraduate research students. As well as housing an impressive collection of philosophical and theological works spanning many centuries, the library also hosts significant books in the field of literature and history.
The transfer of the library to Woodlock Hall in the All Hallows campus is a mammoth task involving the registering of 140,00 volumes that are subsequently packed into 25,000 boxes. In an attempt to give a sense of the size of the library Daire Keogh said that if all the books were laid flat, one after the other from All Hallows outwards they would reach back to Milltown Park or beyond!
He noted that letting go of the library could not have been an easy decision for the Jesuits to make as it involved significant change, but he was grateful that they had made it in favour of DCU when in fact the books could have gone anywhere. He thanked Noel Barber SJ for the work he did in progressing the whole venture and Bill Callanan SJ, Rector of the Milltown Community (photo back right) and Bill Toner, Irish Jesuit Province Treasurer, for their support.
Fr Leonard Moloney SJ, the Irish Jesuit Provincial also spoke at the launch. He said that in all his many years working in administration this was the “the easiest, the most transparent, the best conversation I ever witnessed between two partners coming together to try and create something new.” He said it was a process marked by integrity and that was a tribute to DCU.
The partnership was a significant step for the Irish Jesuits, according to the Provincial, but it was one in which he received great support from the Jesuit communities with whom he consulted somewhat nervously.
Noting that DCU had developed deep roots in the modern history of Dublin city under the leadership of Brian MacCraith, he said the Jesuit Order was happy to be in partnership with what was a secular and open university, that is “so respectful of the difference, so respectful of the dignity of each human being, irrespective of tradition, identity, race or religious expression… The future is lay,” he said.
The boxes of books are still being transferred to DCU and they will be unveiled and available for use in the spring. “So today it’s a bit like being at a baptism without the baby,” said the Provincial, noting that there would be more to be said about this new partnership in 2020. He said he was also aware of the superb structures that DCU had in place, including a team of professionals who would facilitate the needs of various faculties and students wishing to avail of the books. “It will be a living library,” he said, “not ancient or historical, and that’s really important.
The Provincial thanked all those involved in making the partnership possible, Daire Keogh, Brian MacCraith, the Milltown librarians, his fellow Jesuits including Bill Callanan SJ and Bill Toner SJ.
President Brian MacCraith concluded proceedings by putting his thanks on record also. He was grateful to the Provincial and the Irish Jesuits, and to his own staff, especially those working in the library and with the transfer. He noted especially the contribution made by his deputy Daire Keogh.