Trinity College Dublin launched a series of celebrations to mark the 300th anniversary of the institution's Old Library building, on 5 April.

Begun in May 1712, it took 20 years to complete the building whose scale was seen at the time as extremely ambitious given there were only a few hundred students at the college.

Over the centuries notable ex-alumni, such as writer Jonathan Swift and philosopher Edmund Burke, studied in the library, whose famous ceiling was not part of the original design. In 1860 the building’s roof was raised, and the flat plaster ceiling was removed to make way for the present barrel-vaulted ceiling and upper gallery bookcases.

As part of the celebrations, some rarely-displayed texts are to be exhibited. Drawn from over a quarter of a million books and hundreds of manuscript collections held at the library, the exhibition includes a first edition of Martin Luther's Old Testament, a leaf from the Gutenberg Bible and 12th-century manuscript Winchcombe Psalter.

The library receives more than half a million visitors annually to view the Book of Kells in the Long Room.