THE EDWARD WORTH LIBRARY
Welcome to the website of the Edward Worth Library (1733).
The book-collection assembled by Edward Worth (1678-1733), a notable Dublin physician, is one of the lesser-known treasures of the city’s cultural inheritance. It is housed in Dr Steevens’ Hospital, an institution of which Worth was a governor and major benefactor.
Edward Worth was a physician whose taste in books radiated outwards from his professional concern with medicine. He collected as a man of science, a gentleman, and a connoisseur. Beside medical books, ancient and modern (ie. 18th century), one finds important contributions to the study of related sciences, then philosophy, the classics, history etc. Worth was particularly interested in the book as object: the collection not only holds fine examples of sixteenth-century typography but is also considered to be the best collection of early modern bookbindings in Ireland.
Following Worth’s death in January 1733, his fellow governors moved promptly to protect the books bequeathed to them under his will. A room was specially designed and built to accommodate them on the first floor of an as-yet unfinished building. Though visiting scholars over the centuries and decades have witnessed a succession of historic styles in movable furniture (tables, desks, chairs etc.), the original book-shelves, cases, glass-panes and other fittings remain as they were in the 1730s. Indeed, the Edward Worth Library was probably the first in Ireland to protect books behind glass-fronted doors. Today, UVC filters, fire-repressant systems, intruder alarms and other security devices bring up-to-date these thoughtfully devised original conditions.