Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Social sciences

Publication Details

Author preprint.

Published version in Public Library Quarterly


This research responds to calls to further our understanding of exhibitions in the library context (Rogatchevskaia, 2018; Fouracre, 2015) by exploring the significance of a commemorative exhibition staged in a public library. Employing a qualitative methodology, it centres on the ‘Goodbye Dublin: The War of Independence in the City’ commemorative exhibition, staged by Dublin City Pearse Street Library, between August 14th and October 31st, 2019. The findings show that the commemorative nature of the exhibition appealed to a variety of new, lapsed and frequent library users, connecting with Irish and non-Irish residents, as well as tourists visiting the city. In this regard, the exhibition was effective in its objective of appealing to a new and wide-ranging audience, however, the findings underline the need for more diverse and varied marketing, if this aim is to be entirely successful. The staging of the exhibition as an active authoring and articulation of the past by the library is highlighted, and the use of multimedia is seen to transform the library into an emotionally charged, dynamic and multisensory space. This facilitates an immersive encounter, involving interplays between the exhibition narratives and visitors’ personal memories and interests. This offers different ways for visitors to engage with the library, inspiring them to find new meanings, explore issues of personal, collective and national identities, and to reassess contemporary events. Overall, the research makes an important contribution by highlighting the complexity and importance of commemorative exhibitions in the context of public libraries.



This research was undertaken as part of the Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA) funded project, Festspace: Festivals, events and inclusive urban public spaces in Europe