Patrick J. Kelly (first UL Librarian)
Wednesday, 24 April 2024

Staff at the Glucksman Library have been deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Pat Kelly, the first Director of the Library and Information Services Division (1972-1998).

Pat Kelly created a university library from scratch at a time when the traditional means of creating, disseminating, storing and accessing information was being radically influenced by the emergence of new information systems. Pat was responsible for the phenomenal growth of the library from its original location in the basement of Plassey House to the current purpose-designed Glucksman Library & Information Services buildings. 

The current University Librarian and Director Ciara McCaffrey said "As UL's first librarian, Pat Kelly understood that for UL to be successful it would need an exceptional library.  His remarkable vision led to the development of a library that is the beating heart of the university, beloved by hundreds of thousands of students and staff over the past five decades."

Pat Kelly secured a European Documentation Centre for Limerick in 1974 and built up a network of regional medical libraries in Limerick, Ennis and Nenagh. He worked closely with the Regional Development Organisation, the National Technological Park and Shannon Development to support regional development with an innovative commercial information service for local business.

From his earliest days at NIHE, Pat Kelly enthusiastically embraced change and adopted new technologies to deliver information and services. The library had the first external network access terminal in NIHE and, working closely with the British Library, was among the first of five libraries in the world to adopt a pioneering computer-based system for catalogue production. NIHE was also the first academic library in Ireland to provide an online catalogue.

Pat Kelly was highly regarded by his peers as a clear and incisive thinker; he always questioned the status quo and continually sought creative solutions to the challenges facing third-level libraries. From 1993 to 1996, Pat led a number of EU funded research projects involving academic libraries, museums and research organisations such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Hunt Museum, IBM UK, Imperial College London, Chalmers University and Delft University of Technology. As well as forging national and European links, Pat developed relationships with colleagues in the US and led a library technology and skills transfer programme between NIHE and Khartoum Polytechnic Institute.

The enduring value of 'library as place' was particularly important to Pat. Two weeks before his retirement in May 1998, the Lewis and Loretta Brennan Glucksman Library & Information Services Building was officially opened. In addition to contributing significantly to the concept and design of the new library, Pat's creativity was put to excellent use through his involvement in the design of the Foundation Building and the University Concert Hall, which he successfully steered through a critical phase of its development.

The Glucksman Library acknowledges Pat Kelly for pioneering, planning and developing a library and information service geared to the needs of a university in the digital age.


Pat Kelly recorded his memories of his time at UL on the University of Limerick Oral History Project (ULOHP) available on the Digital Library.