Looking after the Library at Florence Court

Florence Court Library Collection

Florence Court Library can be seen on a tour of the house during the season and is often one of the many features that our visitors enjoy when visiting Florence Court.

The Library at Florence Court

The historic library of the Earls of Enniskillen was removed from Florence Court in the early 1970s, but roughly half the books (in excess of 500) were acquired by the National Trust some thirty years later, and returned to the shelves in Co. Fermanagh. Most of the rest of the library is now in Cambridge University Library, which has catalogued it and kept the books together. The collection at Florence Court include books with early family provenances, a fine collection of Hibernica, and a significant part of the great collection of scientific books assembled by the 3rd Earl of Enniskillen in Victorian times.

Each book is carefully handled during the conservation process
Florence Court Library Conservation Work
Each book is carefully handled during the conservation process

The library conservation process

Conservation work takes place every year at Florence Court Library during the Winter months, in preparation for our busy season ahead in which thousands of visitors pass through our mansion every year.

Book conservation work is a delicate and highly details process that often involves using tools and instruments that are described as being ‘common tools in dentistry’. The process often begins and ends with carrying out detailed book inspections and identifying potential defects in condition.

A selection of 'dentistry' tools used in book conservation
Florence Court Library Conservation Tools
A selection of 'dentistry' tools used in book conservation

It then involves carefully removing the identified book and spending approximately 30 minutes making delicate improvements to the ‘spine’ and cover. As there is a large library collection at Florence Court and in order to help maintain the condition of the collection, custom text book supports or ‘slippers’ as they are also known are constructed.

This involves taking measurements of each individual book and creating the custom text book supports, which ultimately prevents each book for rubbing and supports the weighted ‘spine’, therefore enhancing its condition.

An example of the custom text book supports or 'slippers'
Florence Court Library Slippers
An example of the custom text book supports or 'slippers'

What makes Florence Court Library so special

Book conservators regard Florence Court Library as being in excellent condition despite its age. This is down to both the amount of care taken by the National Trust in library conservation work, but also because of the location of Florence Court Library. In comparison to active libraries situated in towns and cities, the location of the library at Florence Court is ideal due to the fact it is situated in the quiet countryside. Active libraries in towns and cities are often exposed to city fumes and other toxic gases which can seriously damage the condition of library collections.

Come and see our extensive library and historic collection for yourself during a guided tour of the house at Florence Court.