I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he has observed that the annual attendance of readers in the British Museum Library of Printed Books in 1899 was 188,000, or only 34,000 more than in the National Library of Ireland, where the annual attendance of readers in the same year was 154,078, and will he explain why 26 assistant librarians and 50 attendants are employed in the former, as compared with 2 assistant librarians and 12 attendants in the latter: whether, in view of the fact that the National Library is the only State-supported public library in Ireland, and that the existing staff is quite unable to cope with the annually increasing attendance of readers, the necessary work of cataloguing and other demands, the number of assistant librarians and attendants will be increased in accordance with there commendations of the Trustees; and whether he is aware that the National Library is the only institution where Irish inventors are enabled to consult patent specifications, and that the trustees have been unable to accept a free gift of American patent specifications owing to lack of space.
I have already stated that I cannot speak for the British Museum. No representations have been made by the trustees of the National Library of Ireland on the subject of an increased staff, since the control of the Library was transferred to the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction. The, public have access to patent specifications at the Belfast public library, and a full set has also been presented to the Public Record Office in Dublin. The last query was answered by me on the 26th March.†