It is renowned for its unparalleled Irish and Local Studies Collection, ranging from comprehensive holdings of Early Belfast and Ulster printed books to the 250,000 items in the Northern Ireland Political Collection, the definitive archive of the recent troubles.
The Library also boasts the Northern Ireland Theatre and Performing Arts Archive, a unique collection reflecting our rich cultural heritage. The Linen Hall has an illustrious profile as a centre of cultural and creative life and offers a varied programme of events ranging from monthly exhibitions to readings and lectures.
Linen Hall is perhaps best known for its Irish and Local Studies Collection (Level 4), which includes a wide range of specialisms in form and content, and notably the Northern Ireland Political Collection, with its own Reading Room (Level 3), and the Theatre & Performing Arts Archive (accessed at Level 4).
Other holdings include the minutes and records of the Belfast Charitable Society from 1752 to 1977, the minutes of Belfast Trades’ Council, and the minutes and records of the Linen Hall Library itself.
The Theatre and Performing Arts Archive includes a collection of eighteenth century play scripts and nineteenth century playbills, as well as acquisitions from modern day Ulster actors, playwrights, managers and companies.
The library website offers a wide range of information including access to the library catalogue and information about events. The Linen Hall is the first library in Northern Ireland to offer e-commerce facilities and a new online shop was launched in December 2003 by playwright Marie Jones. Now users can take out membership and purchase prints, books, publications and gifts online.
Members have the benefit of being able to borrow up to 8 books at once for up to four weeks, have exclusive access to daily newspapers and titles in restricted areas, use free Wi-Fi, reserve or renew titles by phone, email, post and online as well as receiving advance notification of new events.
All visitors are welcome to access the collections, and staff are always on hand to help. Admission to the Library is free, but donations from visitors are needed to support the Library’s work.