central catholic library, inc

Central Catholic Library founded 1922

  • A voluntary subscription library, with an annual fee for borrowing rights. Reference Dept. open to the public. Charge for membership: €30.00 per annum, €15.00 concession.

  • New members are welcome. An application form can be obtained from the Library.


The Central Catholic Library--Leabharlann an Chreidimh--founded in 1922 by Fr. Stephen Brown SJ, the prominent essayist and bibliographer, celebrated its 80th anniversary in June 2002. It is a voluntary subscription library. The library currently holds over 100,000 titles in its lending and reference departments. These cover all areas of life with which religion is involved: books about the life of Christ, the Bible, contemporary church history and various church issues currently under review. The objective of the library has always been to cultivate an informed laity. We continue this work by providing standard discussions of church history, backed by authentic documents such as encyclicals and a range of periodicals dealing with contemporary Christianity.


Approximately 90,000 titles. Collections cover theology, scripture, spirituality, church history in particular, but also Irish history and culture, literature (including Dante collection), biography, secular history, art and architecture. Runs of c.400 journal titles in these areas. Also 1,200 book titles published before 1850.

Stephen Brown Research and Reference Library
This, our main reading room, has sections on Christiology, the Old and New Testament, the Fathers of the Church, moral theology, literature (in particular that of Ireland, England, France, Italy and Spain), philosophy, Marian Studies, history, church music, and the religious orders. We offer 45 current periodical titles, from Ireland, the UK, France and the US, in which topical issues in the life of today's Church are discussed.

The Art Library holds books which came to the Library from the Academy of Christian Art and other sources, to which was added a valuable donation of books on modern and non-European art by a member of the board of the Chester Beatty Library.

The Irish Room holds a large collection covering many aspects of Irish history, both religious and secular.

The Carnegie Collection is on permanent loan from the Library Council of Ireland. The books cover the areas of philosophy, religion and sociology. They are shelved separately from the core collections, and contain many books dealing with non-Catholic traditions, including Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist and other denominational groups. There are also books on the non-Christian World religions, including Judaism, Buddhism and Islam.

The Leo Room holds the remnants of the collection of the Leo Guild (founded in May 1913), whose premises were destroyed by fire during the Civil War. Most of the Central Catholic Library’s books on sociology and politics are housed here.

We hold a collection of approximately 1,200 books printed before 1850, with our earliest titles going back to the sixteenth century. Many of these are housed in the Jerome Room.

The Kavanagh Room holds the collection of Bishop Kavanagh, which he donated to the Library. It also contains books left to the Library by the late Monsignor Stephen Greene.

The Library holds a substantial collection of pamphlets, which are currently being processed. These include publications by the Catholic Truth Society of Ireland and the Irish Messenger Office, as well as statements issued in pamphlet form by the Irish bishops.

Classification System

Our classification scheme is unique to the Central Catholic Library. It was developed by our founder, Fr. Stephen Brown S.J. It is made up of 33 sections, with corresponding sub-sections. Each section covers a significant area of Catholic theology, social teaching, spirituality, literature or art. The first section of the scheme covers the Bible – the source of Christian revelation.

The value of our classification scheme is that it was developed to cover one particular subject (Catholic culture) and so allows for a much more detailed representation of that subject than would a general multi-subject classfication scheme such as Dewey Decimal Classification, which is used in Irish public libraries.

Our scheme has been adapted in recent years to facilitate the inclusion of important new issues in contemporary Catholicism. These include the role of women in the Church (section 33A), the environment (33B), and refugees and asylum seekers (33C).


Georgian townhouse c.1820


Teresa Whitington, Librarian
74 Merrion Square, Dublin, DO2 HH99, Ireland
tel: 003531-6761264 / email: catholiclibrary@upcmail.ie

Open Tuesday to Friday 11.00-18.00, Saturday 11.00-15.00

Both visitors and researchers welcome. We are a nationally valuable resource for researchers, particularly in the area of Irish religious history.




Registered charity and Limited Company

Frontispiece: The Central Catholic Library Blog