In our cultural and our historical understanding the very words 'the Linen Hall Library? represent not just books, but better hopes for the way we live.

Seamus Heaney




Introduction to Collections

The Linen Hall Library has unique collections comprising c.250,000 volumes, and many thousands of more ephemeral items. Originally Belfast's only general library, it has an extensive General Collection (Levels 2 and 4), and a Children's Collection (Level 2).

The Library is best known for its Irish and Local Studies Collection, which includes a wide range of specialisms in form and content, and notably the Northern Ireland Political Collection, and the Theatre & Performing Arts Archive (all can be accessed at Level 4).

The Library has a significant Genealogy and Heraldry Collection, and one of the largest collections of Burns & Burnsiana outside Scotland (Level 4). 

The Library holds its own archives and those of others, along with literary manuscripts in its Archives and Manuscripts Collection (Level 4).

Some of the Library’s collections have been digitised:

Divided Society: Northern Ireland 1990 - 1998
Extensive digitisation of over 500 titles, comprising thousands of individual issues, focused on the 1990s Northern Ireland 'Troubles' and Peace Process. This site can now be previewed and subscribed to. The official launch will take place in January 2018.


Digital Theatre Archive
A selection of material from the Theatre Archive can be viewed at


Northern Ireland Literary Archive
Featuring original manuscripts and letters of nine local writers, including Louis MacNeice, John Hewitt, Joan Lingard and Sam Hanna Bell, alongside short essays that explain and contextualise the images

Postcards Ireland

Postcards Ireland
The Library’s vintage postcard collection can be browsed and purchased at


For further information, please contact:

Irish & Reference Department
T: 028 9032 1707