Find and research materials
The collections contain materials in many different formats, covering a wide range of subjects from various time periods.
Use the main search box to search across all of the collections. For specialist searching, you can use the advanced search in each system. Below is an overview of the types of material you can find in each of the different collections.
The Special Collections team can help you to find materials if you are unable to visit St Andrews. If you need help with your research, contact the team by completing the online enquiry form.
Archives are materials collected and created by individuals and organisations, including the University. They come in many forms including letters, reports, photographs and digital files.
- keyword (if you are looking for a phrase, enclose the words in quotation marks, for example: "Willa Muir")
- collection (the group or set items could belong to, for example: 'Papers of Cedric Thorpe Davie')
- title of the item
- call number (this code is a mix of letters and numbers, for example: B65/22/1/7/28 or ms37754/88)
- date the item was created.
Click on the item you are interested in from the results list. If you would like to book to view this item, note the call numbers and specify the item or items you would like to view, and complete the booking form. For example:
- call number: msPR4877.D2 (ms1322)
- item: Letter from C Henry Daniel to C U Falconer.
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.
Photography themes include:
- international exploration
- motion and moving image
- personal photographic albums
- golf photography
- contemporary documentary.
- identifier (unique code which is a mix of letters and numbers, for example: ALB-21-6 or LHG-2-49)
- place or location the photograph was taken
- or the name of the photographer.
If you would like to request a copy of a photograph:
- Click on the 'Add item to selection' check box on the item record in the search results.
- Click on 'My selections' at the top of the search screen.
- You will then have the option to order all of the images you have selected.
If you would like to view the photograph in person, please use the separate booking form. Remember to include the identifier and specify the item or items you would like to view, for example:
- identifier (ID): EJM-AL-48
- item: Plate 624 "Gallop; saddle; Bay horse".
Find out more about the photographic collections
Books are considered rare if they are printed before 1860, important in their field, are first editions or are collectible.
Search the rare books collection by keyword, author, title or subject. Click on the item you are interested in from the results list. If you would like to view a book in person:
- Take a note of the classmark from the record, the mark will be a mixture of letters and numbers, for example: r PR5397.F8E18 (SR).
- If there is more than one volume, note the number or numbers you'd like to view, for example: Vol. 1 or Vol. 1-3.
- Complete the book an appointment form.
Find out more about the rare book collections
The University of St Andrews Museums and Special Collections hold over a million artifacts, manuscripts, rare books, and photographs, many of which are used in a variety of teaching at the University. In these unprecedented times with limited access to physical collections, the Libraries and Museums have been developing tools to provide an alternative to, or to complement, the use of original material. The three new key tools are Exhibit(accessed through the University collections site, currently named ‘Photographic collection’, but includes all digitised objects requested for teaching), Recogito, and Workspace.
To meet the challenge of providing an engaging and interactive experience with using our 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, 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 is easy to use, and can be shared or embedded in Moodle, Teams, Wordpress, or even university web pages.
Digitisation of collection objects required for teaching is already 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 (scans etc.) or add records directly from our Collections, then share the items with certain students. Students can then annotate and tag the images, which can be viewed and marked by staff.
Group or individual assignments in Recogito (PDF) Staff guide -
Using Recogito as a student (PDF) Student guide -
Workspace is software built into the Collections site (currently named "Photographic Collections, although will be used to store all requested musuem/special collections items for teaching regardless of whether they are a photograph or not). Workspace 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 notes 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 the selections that will be delivered with your digitised requests.
IIIF resources can be used with the tools above, IIIF Resources (PDF) compiles a list collection sites you can search and copy IIIF Manifest URLs for use in the above software.