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 can be records, documents, official University materials and files. Within this collection you can also find letters, personal papers and maps.

The collections are used not only to support the teaching and research activities of the University but are also important for historical studies in the wider academic community, and as a public resource open to everyone.

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.