In the heart of Dublin’s city centre, wedged between the River Liffey and Dublin Castle, you’ll find The Library Project – a bookshop, gallery and art book resource run by Ángel Luis González, Steven Maybury and Julia Gelezova. The Library Project is the home of PhotoIreland – a project and annual event promoting Irish photography – but it’s also home to a host of beautiful magazines. We speak with Ángel to hear about Dublin’s thriving independent publishing scene.
When and why did you set up PhotoIreland and The Library Project?
I founded PhotoIreland in 2009 to explore ways to promote Photography in Ireland.
After loads of research and conversations with artists, curators, gallery directors, etc., we launched Ireland’s first international festival of Photography in 2010: PhotoIreland Festival. We have been hosting the festival every July since, and it runs the whole month.
We set up the Library Project in 2011, a shop and public resource library. The first phase of the project set out to offer the public an on-going collection of the latest photobooks, magazines and zines.
How do you lay out the magazines around the shop and how did you decide on that set up?
We usually lay them up on a special display unit we built, and it is the best way to browse all our magazines all at once. We built a shop that can be wrapped up and stored in 30 minutes, so we really wanted to build a magazine rack that would be easy to move around.
The Library Project is a two-floor ever-changing space, as we host many events and exhibitions. Upstairs we have the library, the one that gives its name to the space. For free, we offer our collection of photobooks to all visitors, and that includes over 1,200 titles – with many limited editions! People can even browse most of the catalogue online.
Who are your customers?
Since we are based in the main tourist quarter, there are loads of international visitors surprised by our presence in such a spot. They browse and discover new publications and they bring many back home. Of course, we have a good set of followers in Dublin, and in Ireland for that matter, as people know that they can always find an inspiring selection of items at The Library Project.
What has the biggest challenge been?
To find a balance between what we want to offer and what the public wants to buy. We can’t always bring in what we are passionate about. In the end, if a product doesn’t sell, it needs to go. We have been careful selecting the publications presented at The Library Project, the selection must be top-notch!
What changes have you seen in the magazine scene since you opened?
There has been a constant flow of new Irish titles, magazines, zines, journals and photobooks, in the last 3 years, and that has made us very happy. We like to see a healthy scene, and we love to support it as much as we can. The magazines aren’t all about critical photography, but that is our specialty.
The bookshop gives visitors a great representation of the Arts in Ireland today, but its also a benchmark of international trends.