Major funding for the conservation of the Dutch Fagel Collection at the Library of Trinity College Dublin

Trinity College Dublin announced major funding today for the conservation and digital cataloguing of the Dutch 18th century Fagel collection by the  Library of Trinity, in collaboration with the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (KB), the National Library of the Netherlands, with the support of the Government of the Netherlands.

The European partnership between Trinity, the National Library of the Netherlands, and the Dutch and Irish governments, signals a Europe-wide commitment to one of the finest examples of research and public engagement projects, and to the preservation of international heritage.

The Fagel collection is one of the jewels in the Library of Trinity College Dublin’s collections. This collection was built up over five generations of the Fagel family, many of whom held high public office in the Netherlands. It is enormously rich in French, Dutch and English works.  One of the most important private libraries in early modern Europe, the holdings in history, politics and law are particularly substantial, but virtually every other area of human endeavour is included such as philosophy, theology, geography and travels, natural history, the visual arts and much more.

The collection came to Trinity in 1802 when Hendrik Fagel the Younger, ‘Griffier’ or Chief Minister to the States General of the Netherlands, was stranded in England while French revolutionary forces invaded his country. Having shipped the collection to London, he was eventually forced to sell it. The collection was subsequently purchased and gifted to Trinity.

When it came to Trinity it expanded the Library’s collection by 40% and occupied over a mile of shelving space in space in the Old Library.

Recent work undertaken on the collection has revealed that upwards of 10% of the titles in the collection are the only surviving copies of publications, and some of the maps are the earliest known maps of regions of the world. Now over two hundred years since arriving in Dublin, the Unlocking the Fagel Collection project will open the collection up to a global audience of scholars and to all lovers of cultural heritage.

The Library of Trinity is collaborating with the KB, the National Library of the Netherlands, to register all publications in the Fagel Collection in the catalogue of the Library of Trinity College and in the Short-Title Catalogue Netherlands, the Dutch pre-1800 national bibliography. The project is also working in conjunction with the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute and researchers will be engaged in the collection, with a Dutch-Irish conference marking the end of the project in 2022.

Trinity has ambitious plans for the Fagel Collection where it forms a key component in a new  Virtual Trinity Library,  a major project which will  allow digital access to the unique and distinct collections of the Library and which  is  central to Trinity’s  current philanthropic campaign Inspiring Generations. The Library has long term aims to digitally reunite the Fagel collection with related library, archive, museum and private collections around the world, using the latest enhanced technologies.

The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Ireland has greatly supported the project and facilitated viewings of the Fagel collection during recent visits by Dutch dignitaries and royalty.  They include the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, and a Royal visit by the King and Queen of the Netherlands, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima during their State Visit to Ireland in 2019. In the Netherlands, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs stimulated the undertaking of this important international project of cultural exchange and shared heritage.

Commenting on the award by the Government of the Netherlands, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Ireland, Adriaan Palm, said:

“I am glad to announce that the Dutch government has decided to support the Koninklijke Bibliotheek in its work with Trinity College Dublin in unlocking the Fagel collection. The Fagel collection is an important piece of Dutch cultural heritage in Ireland, that deserves to be accessible to all.”

Commenting on the award by the Government of the Netherlands, the Irish Ambassador to the Netherlands, Kevin Kelly, said:

“I welcome the cooperation between the Library of Trinity College Dublin and the KB on unlocking the amazing Fagel collection. This will make this unique collection from our shared heritage more accessible to the wider public and academia, and is an excellent example of the close and diverse bilateral ties that exist between Ireland and the Netherlands.”

Commenting on the Unlocking the Fagel Collection project, Librarian and College Archivist at the Library of Trinity College Dublin, Helen Shenton, said:

“The Fagel Collection came to Trinity in the most exceptional circumstances and has been maintained and cared for over the last two hundred years. Having the opportunity to now work so closely with experts in the National Library of the Netherlands, together we will ensure that this collection gains the attention and engagement it deserves worldwide. We see this as a major milestone in providing complete access to the pan-European collection. We are extremely grateful to the Dutch Government and Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Ireland for their unfailing support of this project.”

Commenting on the collaboration between Trinity College and the Koninklijke Bibliotheek, the Director of the National Library of the Netherlands, Lily Knibbeler said:

“We are extremely pleased with the collaboration between the Netherlands and Ireland regarding the conservation of the Fagel collection. This European partnership would not have been possible without the support of both the Dutch Embassy in Ireland and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs who is responsible for the financial backing of this three-year project (€500,000 in total). At the end of this project the Fagel Collection will be easily accessible to anyone who is interested in cultural heritage. Moreover, we will discover how many books in the Fagel Collection are unique copies, which is vital information for our Dutch pre-1800 national bibliography. We look forward to working with our colleagues at Trinity in unlocking this important cultural heritage collection of Dutch origin.”


About the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (KB)

The Koninklijke Bibliotheek (KB) is the National Library of the Netherlands. Driven by the power of the written word we further intellectual development, proficiency and creativity in the Netherlands. To this end, we seek collaboration with partners in the domains of public libraries, cultural heritage and academics. The KB promotes the visibility, usability and longevity of the Dutch Library Collection, defined as the collective holdings of all publicly funded libraries in the Netherlands. Unhindered access to these collections furthers the development of new ideas and allows researchers to build upon the ideas of their predecessors.