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Visiting the Library
Find out how to access and visit the Library at National Museums NI.
Our Library and Archives contain valuable and rare documents, books, oral history accounts, images and ephemera of Ulster. Eclectic, largely unique, and enlightening, these collections combine the manuscript archives, sound recordings, and learning of the Ulster Folk Museum, Ulster Transport Museum and Ulster Museum. Our facilities are newly refurbished and equipped to house a research hub of national and international significance.
The Library collections mirror the specific areas of focus within our museums. Significantly, the history of the Ulster Folk Museum is captured here. Archival material tells the stories of each of the buildings and spaces in this outdoor museum. These collections, meticulously curated by experts since the early 1960s, hold unparalleled significance.
The Sound Archive, may be called one of the sonic centres of Ulster, houses an extensive collection of approximately 15,000 recordings.
Through the Languages of Ulster project, we will use our museums and our unique language archives to explore the rich and diverse language traditions associated with Irish-English, Irish and Ulster Scots.
Special Collections feature substantial manuscript archives that laid the foundation of our museums. These include the histories of the Ulster Folk Museum’s many buildings, and the folk stories collected around Ulster in the 1950s-60s.
Our shelves are home to an extensive collection of well over 100,000 books and periodicals. Among them, you'll find renowned titles covering a wide range of subjects, including history, the arts, museology, sciences, agriculture, industry, and transport. Notably, our library boasts the largest collection of maritime books in Ireland.
In addition to a extensive collection of journals, we offer access to numerous magazines and newspapers, both in hardcopy and microfilm formats. Furthermore, our collection houses a panoply of rare published works dating back to the eighteenth century. Our special collections of books encompass everything from educational textbooks to Robbie Burns, from vernacular architecture to cookery, and from secret societies to the beautifully illustrated Marcus Ward books.
Learn about the recent project to revamp the Library & Archives at Cultra, part of National Museums NI, and how this great venture has breathed new life into an invaluable cultural institution. To understand its significance, let's delve into its origins and how it evolved into one of the most extensive collections of books, periodicals, manuscripts, and recordings in the entire region.