University of St Andrews

University Library Special Collections

About us


Frequently asked questions

Why doesn't St Andrews have an apostrophe?
Because the name of the town predates the use of the apostrophe, which dates from the 16th century.

Why is St Andrews so important in the history of photography?
Because of the friendship between David Brewster, Professor of Natural Philosophy at St Andrews, and Fox Talbot, pioneer of early photography.

Who was the first graduate of the University?
William Yellowlock in 1413

Who was the first female graduate of the University?
Agnes Forbes Blackadder in 1895

What does "Muniments" mean?
"Muniments" are defined as legal records, deeds and other evidence of title. The term has been expanded to describe the historical record or archive of the University. Our earliest documents date from 1215. In short, the Muniment Collection is the University's archive of non-current records.

What does LLA stand for?
Lady Literate in Arts. The LLA was a 'distance learning' qualification for women, introduced to allow them access to University education in the days before they were admitted as students to the University itself. Students studied at colleges local to them, and sat examinations set by the University, at centres all over the UK and in many places throughout the world. Many thousands of women participated in the LLA scheme, which was so popular that it survived for 50 years, into the 1930s - long after women were admitted as full-time students. For further information see the article 'LLA article (PDF, 969 KB)' by R.N. Smart in St Andrews University Alumnus Chronicle, 1968, vol. 59 LLA article (PDF, 969 KB)‌

How do I go about depositing a book, manuscript or photograph in the Library?
Please visit our donations page for more information, or phone 01334 462339, and we will discuss with you the various issues involved with donating or depositing material, and will advise you regarding whether the Library is the most appropriate place for the items you have.

Do you provide valuations?
No. For valuations, either for personal or insurance purposes, you should seek the assistance of a reputable dealer or auction house.

How can I access the one stripe collection?
On our online catalogue books in this collection have the location 'Special Collections 1861-1900' and the status 'CONSULT SPEC COLL STAFF'. If you want to look at anything from this collection, email Special Collections ( requesting the book(s). If the book is suitable for readers to borrow, we will email you to let you know that you can collect your item from the hold shelf in the Main Library's Short Loan area. When you're finished with the book, it can be returned to the Main Library in the usual way.

If the book is not suitable to be borrowed, for example if the item is particularly fragile, we will let you know via email and offer you an appointment in our Reading Room to look at the item.

We aim to turn requests around very quickly and often the same day, though requests received late on Friday and over the weekend will be dealt with on Monday.

Discover our collections

Learn about the treasures of the Special Collections Division contained in Rare Books, the Archives and the Photographic Collection.

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.