Using the collections for teaching

University museums and special collections are rooted in, and draw inspiration from, our 600-year history of research and teaching and the pursuit of knowledge for the common good. Consisting of over a two million artefacts, manuscripts, muniments, rare books and photographs, the collections are used heavily in teaching at the University.

If you would like to use any of our objects for teaching, please get in touch. Libraries and Museums staff can arrange to digitise or 3D scan the objects for use in software such as Exhibit, workspace, and Recogito.

Learning and teaching tools to use with our collections

In these unprecedented times with limited access to physical collections, Libraries and Museums staff have been developing tools to provide an alternative to, or to complement, the use of original material. The three new key tools are Exhibit (this tool can be accessed through the collections search), Recogito, and Workspace (built-in to the collections search).


To meet the challenge of providing an engaging and interactive experience with using museums and special collections digitally, Exhibit was developed as a tool which approaches the sensory and tactile encounters students would have with this original material.

Exhibit enables anyone to create interactive presentations with digitised material from our (and other) collections, including 3D models, manuscripts, muniments, rare books, artworks, and photographs. For example a lecturer could create an Exhibit examining the bindings of a book using a 3D scan, and then move to the inside of the book to view pages and the scanned text. Alternatively, lecturers could provide objects to students and request they create their own Exhibit for a project.

Exhibit can be shared or embedded in Moodle, Teams, Wordpress, or University web pages.

The digitisation of collection objects required for teaching is underway, and academic staff will be provided with selections of their teaching material alongside instructions for creating their own Exhibits.

Below is a quick video outlining how to use the tool.

Developed by University of St Andrews and Mnemoscene using The Universal Viewer, with support from the Esme Fairbairn Collections Fund.

Here is a demonstration Exhibit:

Documentation and help can be found on the Exhibit docs section.


At its core, Recogito enables students and staff to work together on annotating materials (including manuscripts, rare books, or photographs) from the collections. The tool can be used to set group or individual assignments for students in order for them to fulfil a set task (such as "mark 10 interesting points on this painting", or "as a group, translate a page of Latin from an ancient manuscript").

Recogito enables staff to upload images (including scans) or add records directly from our collections, then share the items with specified students. These students can then annotate and tag the images, which can be viewed and marked by staff.

Guide for staff: Group or individual assignments in Recogito (PDF) .

Guide for students: Using Recogito as a student (PDF) .


Workspace is software built into the collections search, it enables you to open multiple digitised items at once in one window, allowing comparison. An example of this would be the comparison of a handwritten note on a book, alongside the actual digitised rare book. Other tools include the ability to add items from the collections site, or from other collection websites (such as Digital Bodleian).

To use Workspace, click on the "view in workspace" button for the selections that will be delivered with your digitised requests.


IIIF Resources

IIIF resources can be used with the tools above. View the IIIF Resources (PDF)  document, which compiles a list of collection sites you can search and provide IIIF Manifest URLs you can copy to use in the above software.