Armagh Public Library, 43 Abbey Street, Armagh Bt61 7DY.
TEL 028 3752 3142.
Email admin@ armaghpubliclibrary.co.uk.
Web http:/ / armaghpubliclibrary.arm.ac.uk/.
Armagh Public Library is the oldest public library in Northern Ireland, founded in 1771 by Archbishop Richard Robinson as part of his plans to establish a university and to improve Armagh City. The basis for the collection was Archbishop Robinson's own library, which contains 17th- and 18th-cent. books on theology, philosophy, classics and modern literature, travels, history, medicine and law. The collection consists of MSS, incunabula, periodicals, books and pamphlets from the 12th cent. to the present day. The predominant subject is history, with an emphasis on Ireland and Britain. Current acquisition areas are: Saint Patrick, Jonathan Swift, local history (Armagh City and County), church history. The library holds 25,196 early printed works, including 7 incunabula, 510 16th cent. works, 5,767 17th cent., 11,068 18th cent., and 8,046 19th cent. Main languages are English, Latin, and Greek. A copy of Swift's Gulliver's Travels (1726) contains emendations in his own hand.
J. Dean, Catalogue of the Books in the Keeper's Room (1924)
J. Dean, Sketches of Primate Robinson, His Library and Armagh History (1930)
G. McKelvie, Early English Books in Armagh Public Library: a Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed before 1641 (1977; mounted on website)
W. Reeves, A Memoir of the Public Library of Armagh (1886)
G. O. Simms, ‘The Founder Of Armagh's Public Library: Primate Robinson among his Books’, Irish Booklore, 1 (1972), 17–20
D. R. M. Weatherup, ‘The Armagh Public Library, 1771–1971’, Irish Booklore, 2, 2.5 (1975), 269–99
Belfast Central Library, Libraries NI, Royal Ave., Belfast, Bt1 1EA.
TEL 028 9050 9150.
Email belfast.central@ librariesni.org.uk.
Belfast first adopted the Public Libraries Acts in 1882, and the Central Library was opened 6 years later in 1888. The present special collections fall into 2 groups: the Heritage collection, and a general ‘fine books’ collection. The Heritage collection owes much of its size and quality to 2 substantial private collections, that of Francis Joseph Bigger (d.1926), c.3,000 v. presented by his brother in 1927, and the bequest of John Smyth Crone (d.1945). Many of the early printed books in the general collection were given by Canon John Grainger shortly before he died in 1891.
H. Frazer, ‘Local History Collections in Belfast’ (London, LIS MA thesis, 1976), 48–61