A new library for reference and reflection has opened in St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast.
The opening on February 21 was attended by the Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Rev Dr Richard Clarke, and Mr John Killen, MA, Librarian at the Linen Hall Library, Belfast.
The library is intended for the use of the clergy and lay people of the dioceses of Down and Dromore and Connor as well as anyone who wishes to access the works of reference that the library holds.
These include a number of volumes that have been in the possession of the Cathedral for a long time as well as the remnants of an old diocesan library. To this core of books have been added donations from clergy and lay members of the two dioceses and from other sources.
The chief areas of subject matter are: The Church of Ireland; general church history, Biblical Studies; spirituality, liturgy, pastoral studies, theology, ethics and biographies of prominent Christian leaders.
Speaking at the opening, the Dean of Belfast, the Very Rev John Mann, expressed thanks to Paul Gilmore, who was on placement in the Cathedral for six months and whose efforts had resulted in the establishment of the library,
He also spoke of St Anne, mother of the Virgin Mary. “She has been seen as a teacher and one dedicated to the encouragement of the whole person through understanding and compassion,” the Dean said. “This seems to encourage us to further this Cathedral, dedicated to St Anne, as a place of study.”
Archbishop Clarke said there would always be a place for books in their physical form. “They connect us with our heritage and our history and Cathedrals have always been a place of learning,” he said.
He said the library would serve as a place of rest and spiritual recreation. “This is a wonderful project and I know this library will be a place of divine learning,” the Archbishop said.
Mr Killen said he was delighted to see another library open. “What the Dean and Paul have done is to open new and very important material to those of us who want peace and time to study,” he said.
He remarked on the portraits now on display and on the well laid out displays of books, archives and artefacts. “I will certainly be using the library because the material I have seen today intrigues me,” Mr Killen added.
Many of the items on display were previously stored in the Muniment Room, located at the top of a spiral staircase – not the most accessible place for a historical collection!
This can now be viewed in the comfortable library which is accessible during the opening hours of the Cathedral from Monday to Friday.
Special quiet days of retreat and days for individual study are to be arranged for clergy and lay church workers on one day each month.