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Marsh’s Library

A New Chapter for a Cultural Cornerstone

Services Provided:

  • Branding
  • Identity Design
  • Website Design & Development


Marsh’s Library is the first public library in Ireland, opening its doors in Dublin in 1707 and as such is a vital part of Irish heritage and tourism. It is also a working research facility so it straddles both the academic and visitor attraction worlds. A cultural cornerstone in the capital deserved a website fitting of its importance.

Open created a brand new website for Marsh’s Library under Fáilte Ireland’s Digital That Delivers programme. The library team from director to librarians, conservators, educators and visitor engagement staff, knew they needed a website which would highlight Marsh’s Library as a cultural heritage attraction but which also reflected its place as a working research library. Open used a project strategy which mirrored these goals, through careful planning and research which covered both areas.

Open conducted thorough research on cultural tourism, leveraging our expertise in this field. Additionally, analysing competitors, focusing on historical research and library facilities available to the public, especially those attracting general tourism.

The development of user personas helped the client see who their online audience and onsite visitors are and could be. A focus on the reasons behind design or planning decisions was important to Marsh’s and an emphasis on good research matched with creativity were central to how we executed the design and implementation plan. Marsh’s is indeed culturally very important, but it’s also a fun place that is firmly placed as part of the wider Liberties community.


Page views are up by 70%
and the unique page view is up by 77%. 


increase in average time
user spends on a page

The Solutions

We created a website for Marsh’s Library which has a clear focus on the library as part of a number of communities, from research centre, to literary hub and as a local and national visitor attraction. The website would need to reflect the coming together of a range of people and purpose, so we designed something that did just that.

Marsh’s Library is often referred to as one of Dublin’s hidden gems. Our aim was to make it a little less hidden online, by combining the beauty of an 18th century library with a website which reflects the library today. We created an experience with vivid video, photography and design. Marsh’s Library was interested in the way Open uses cues from art and history in design, so we used the look, feel and atmosphere of the library for its new online identity.

Open employed a number of methods to refresh Marsh’s Library including logo redesign and more simplified design throughout the site. It is visually clear and user friendly. It keeps the gravitas of an important cultural institution but it throws its doors open wide, showing the library as the welcoming place it is.

Creativity is at the core of what Open does, so working on the Marsh’s Library website enabled us to delve into their collection for creative cues for the website content. We used illustrations from botanical, historical and creative works as inspiration in creating a website unlike those of other libraries, old or new. Using book “graffiti”, we brought the doodle of 18th library users to life in the 21st century online sphere. An innovative approach to content enabled us to move away from the normally static websites of acclaimed libraries. We brought video, illustration and animation to Marsh’s Library website, in a way that sets it apart from other learning or research institutions

We were delighted to work with Open on the design and implementation of our new website, funded by the Digital That Delivers programme of Fáilte Ireland.

First opened to the public in 1707, Marsh’s Library is both a cultural heritage attraction and a working research library, and we were keen that the website should address both of these audiences. We chose Open from a strong field of candidate agencies because of their understanding of our brief, and the very diverse responses evident in their work for previous clients.

At every stage of design and implementation, the agency discussed our options in detail and worked with us to achieve our goals. Creative attention to design was complemented by attention to performance, resulting in a satisfying user experience. The training offered to our staff enabled them to update material with ease and confidence, and the custom page builder implementation gives them wide options for presentation.

The result is a website which is very much one of a kind, communicating our beautiful eighteenth-century building and our rich resources of rare books and manuscripts to both visitors and researchers.

Sue Hemmens PhD MSc MLIS - Deputy Director, Marsh's Library

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