The Libraries at Trinity

I’ve always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.

Jorge Luis Borges


It’s not every day you live in a country whose list of main tourist attractions include a library. It’s not every day you attend the university in possession of that library. It is everyday, though, if you are a student at that school, that you can go to said library for free.

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It is never the day that you need to go to said library for any useful book-purposes. That day was built for the Berkley, the Ussher, the Lecky. Cement. Computers. Colorful rows of books whose smell is still bound between their covers rather than leaking into the atmosphere of heavy-handed old wood.

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Librarians who think their profession is to earn the library its ethos through making you feel inferior. Don’t ask them for help. Whisper, dammit. Memorize the Dewey Decimal System. Their spines don’t smell like old leather, but, rest assured, they are trying.

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Every day, they go to the tanning salons along the Liffey that most tourists look at and wonder, “Really? In Dublin? Who is sustaining this?” The tourists swim their way upstream through a river of fish-bellied Irishmen, and the librarians slip, quietly, always quietly, into sustaining this out-of-place practice.

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They want the Long Room. They want to bind themselves in leather. Stamp their faces in golden Latin. Climb a ladder nearer to Paradise. They stare at students with computers and phones and magnetized student identification cards, and cast out their days to sand melted into cement walls. They harden, every day, into cement themselves: sculpted busts like they knew they were always meant to be. Cold furniture along the edge of a living bookshelf.

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You go to school. You read. You wander into the Long Room. You do not look to the busts for anything.

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