National Library of Ireland Launches New Sources Online Directory

The National Library of Ireland’s has launched a new digital directory of Irish studies called Sources

The National Library of Ireland’s new digital directory of Irish studies  means researchers can now retrieve any one of up to 196,574 catalogue records of materials housed in the National Library of Ireland or in universities and research institutions around the world. Subjects covered in the materials range from art, architecture and archaeology through economics and genealogy to history, politics, literature, science and zoology. This is a first class resource for genealogists looking for the records of landowners and estates in Ireland where our ancestors may have been tenants.

As a result of being able to source this information on line, the initial research period is now reduced from at least several days to just a few minutes.

The ‘Sources’ digital directory pinpoints exactly what Irish interest material is held where – information which previously could only be accessed by consulting the bulky printed catalogues in either the National Library of Ireland in Dublin or one of a limited number of university libraries or major research institutions holding the complete set of printed records. With the click of a mouse anyone can now access the Sources database via a PC and can start the process of researching what material exists on a particular topic, and in what library or institution around the world that material is held.

For the first time, it will be possible to search the manuscript and periodicals records together. As a result, someone doing research on their local area might find information about manuscript maps, estate papers and business records for local shopkeepers, as well as details for articles in local history journals. Once the records are found, the information can be easily emailed or shared to bookmarking and social networking sites such as Delicious and Twitter. Other features of ‘Sources’ include an interactive map showing the location of all the archives and libraries around the world where the Irish material listed is stored. Full contact details for each outlet are also provided.

The current process of digitising the original ‘Hayes Sources’ data represents an investment of several years’ work by the National Library of Ireland. Commenting on the launch, Aongus Ó hAonghusa, Director, National Library of Ireland noted:

“For decades, the original Manuscripts Sources for the History of Irish Civilisation, or ‘Hayes Sources’ as it is more commonly known, proved to be a tried and trusted resource for researchers in any and all fields of study relating to Ireland and its people, at home and abroad.

“Now, it has been given a new life, and a slightly less unwieldy name, in an online arena. The unprecedented opportunity it will provide for current and future generations of researchers worldwide to find Irish source material from their desktops, wherever they may be, would surely have pleased Richard Hayes and his dedicated team who first embarked on this mammoth indexing task almost 70 years ago.”  Hayes work was originally pubished as  Manuscript Sources for the History of Irish Civilisation and Sources for the History of Irish Civilisation: Articles in Irish Periodicals. The original hard copy of Manuscript Sources was contained in 11 volumes produced in 1965, with a further three volumes produced in a supplement in 1975. That project created a portal to a vast amount of manuscripts housed in repositories in Ireland and elsewhere. Periodicals Sources was published in nine volumes in 1970 and includes bibliographic references to articles appearing in some 157 publications, the earliest of these commencing in 1785.

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