Special Collections

The University Library’s Special Collections holds printed books, manuscripts, photographs and the University archive. Built up since the University’s foundation in the 15th century, these collections offer rich opportunities for teaching and research. 

The Princess - Albumen print by Julia Margaret Cameron
‘The Princess’. Albumen print by Julia Margaret Cameron. From Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Idylls of the King, and Other Poems (London, 1875). University of St Andrews Library ALB-150-05.

Archive collections

Archives are materials collected and created by individuals and organisations, including the University. They come in many forms, such as letters, reports, photographs and digital files.

Photographic collection

The collection includes negatives on glass and film of varying sizes, lantern slides, prints ranging from salt paper to modern processes, as well as postcards and transparencies.

Rare books collection

Books are considered rare if they are printed before 1860, important in their field, are first editions or are collectible.

The collection includes over 200,000 printed books ranging in date from the 15th to 21st centuries.