MTU Bishopstown Library


A brief history of the MTU Bishopstown campus library

Construction of the main library at the Bishopstown campus of MTU was concluded in 1994. The Information Technology wing of this building was completed in 1997. In 2003, the Library/Information Technology building was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland (RIAI). The RIAI Gold Medal is the highest honour in Irish architecture and is awarded every three years for the design of a building of exceptional merit completed within a three-year period. The medal was presented on-site by the President of Ireland, Mrs. Mary McAleese to Mr. Shane de Blacam of architectural practice de Blacam and Meagher, in association with Boyd Barrett Murphy O’Connor, as the best new building completed in Ireland in the three-year period 1995-1997. Incidentally, the President’s visit came on the two hundred year anniversary of the founding of the Royal Cork Institution, which subsequently evolved into Cork Institute of Technology.

Architectural Features

The RIAI panel were impressed by the building’s “powerful architectural expression”,“its dramatic fusion of spatial and structural form” and the “imaginative use of detail and subtle references to local masonry traditions” – this latter point refers to the fact that the predominant materials in the dramatic symmetrical south exterior curved façade, with its central entrance hall, are clay bricks and white limestone, similar to the traditional use of these materials in the city of Cork, the so-called “streaky bacon”mix. This traditional blending of materials continues in the major internal structural details, including interior pillars, which are a mixture of red brick and block.

Throughout the library, the walls are lined with books. These are accessed on the upper floors from galleries of beech wood. Great emphasis was placed on the provision of natural light and the quality of the space for readers – the library is a place to study, think and write using the latest technology, while surrounded by an atmosphere of books. The galleried areas are lit by floor-to-ceiling windows on the north façade. The reading room is lit by a north rooflight, which traverses the building above the main circulation route. The rooflight increases in height as the room increases in depth,giving adequate daylight for reading in all parts of the library. The curved, south wall is also lit by a high-level north light, while at low level, small windows allow in shafts of sunlight in a controlled manner. Thus south light largely enters as reflected light, which offsets heat gain and glare which might otherwise be a problem with computer screens.The ceiling height in the main reading room is a triple-height space, 6 metres above floor-level; elsewhere it is 7.375 metres to accommodate the timber access galleries.The benefit of these high rooms is that they provide a naturally ventilated space which is brightly lit by north light within a deep plan.

Furniture and Other Features

The furniture, including the stairways, galleries and bookshelves, was designed by the architects, using beech wood for the furniture and natural fibreboard for the bookshelves. Each study area has a unique quality; some seats have window views or views across the reading area.

In a total area of 2,700 square metres, the library seats more than 600 readers in an academic and architecturally-enriched atmosphere. With its well proportioned study desks, the library offers the perfect environment for study, research and reflection. Wi-Fi is available throughout the entire building, thus offering the potential to develop the Information Technology aspect of modern academic research and learning to the highest level, successfully integrating traditional library facilities with computing facilities. The challenge was to create a building which allows computers and books to inhabit the same environment, each enhancing the other, with books visible from all study areas.

Library Stock and Facilities

Shelving space is provided for more than 80,000 volumes along with an extensive back catalogue of periodicals and electronic access to several thousand more full-text digital journals. These cover all subject areas taught in the university including Science, Engineering, Business, Social studies and Humanities. This material is supplemented by specialist collections in the libraries at the Crawford College of Art and Design, the Cork School of Music, and the National Maritime College of Ireland, all of which are under the auspices of the Munster Technological University.


Recent Upgrades

Summer 2021 saw a significant capital works ICT infrastructure upgrade take place in the Bishopstown Library. The project included the replacement of IT structured cabling with new 10 Gigabit Cat6a solution, the implementation of new high density WiFi solution and the installation of a new electrical system to support personal devices at all study desks.