University of St Andrews

University Library Special Collections

Research and enquiries

Behind the scenes

Behind the scenes

Behind the scenes

When not supervising reader access to our collections, the staff in Special Collections have a variety of tasks that keep us busy on a day to day basis, as well as long term projects that require our attention.

Daily, we are responsible for fetching and safely returning the material requested for use in the reading room and ensuring its safety throughout this process.

We also undertake Freedom of Information requests that come in from all over the world in connection to the University and our collections. These can involve information requests from genealogists about their ancestors or the local area, inquiries about aspects of our rare books and manuscripts, or questions about former staff and students for researcher's publications.

In the long term we are continuously working on collections care. By this we mean undertaking repackaging and cataloguing of our materials to ensure that their housing and descriptions are sound and that the locations ascribed to them are accurate. We do this by scoping projects for particular collections and by working through shelf checking procedures on a regular basis. We are also producing digital surrogates of our more rare, fragile and valuable items. At Special Collections we firmly believe in providing access to our material but believe too that this must be balanced with a sensible attitude to preservation, especially of fragile material, and in cases where it is required we ensure that items are sent for professional conservation.

The Special Collections Division welcomes visitors and enquirers from a variety of backgrounds and interests and we aim to provide top quality service both at the front end and by working hard behind the scenes to take care of our collections and undertake collections enquiries where appropriate.

Special Collections for Groups

Learn about how we share our treasured collections with specialist groups and schools and how we use materials for teaching within the University.

Research enquiry?

If you need assistance with research, have a query about our collections, or would like to know about researching your family history please ask for our help.

Do you need reproductions?

Find out how you can get copies of books, manuscripts or photographs held within Special Collections.