University of St Andrews

University Library Special Collections


600 Years of Book Collecting

Sample images of 600 Years of Book collecting

The University Library will be publishing a six-part magazine which will be released throughout the 2013-2014 academic year. This publication, entitled 600 Years of Book Collecting, will celebrate the 600th anniversary of the foundation of the University through its strongest and most obvious asset – its books. Each copy of a book is a unique individual, made from covers and pages, words and illustrations, stories and histories. This publication has been designed to open the necessarily closed doors of some of the University’s greatest treasure rooms, to share the excitement that our collections inspire in our students, academics and librarians every day. It also features books found on the open shelves of the Main Library, “living treasures” available to all students at any time.

For 600 Years of Book Collecting we have selected one book from our collection produced in each decade of the University’s existence -- a sampling of books spanning from before the invention of the printing press to the University’s first steps into its 601st year. We are issuing this publication in six parts, each devoted to 10 books selected by our librarians and curators who spend their days working amongst the stacks of the University’s collections. Each part provides a chronological listing of the selected titles, but each is devoted to a different theme. These six themes represent the areas of academic intensity that have characterised the University across its history: Divinity & Politics, The Natural World, Language & Literature, Astronomy & Mathematics, Geography & Exploration, and Arts.

Printed as a large-format magazine on glossy A3 paper, this publication brings together the beauty of the University Library’s treasures and the crispness of modern design. Each book will receive a two-page spread, allowing for multiple images from each book to be displayed along with a digestible amount of curated text. Some of the books that have been selected are known treasures, often talked about and exhibited. Some are books found on the open shelves at the University Library. Others are lesser-known or more common books, but the copies which St Andrews holds have individual stories to tell: the voyage of a book through time, how a book found its way to St Andrews is often as exciting as the words printed on its pages. These books have been acquired over six tumultuous centuries in which an institution designed to provide the theological and philosophical training required by the clergy has developed into an internationally-acclaimed research-led university with a distinctive character now recognised throughout the world.

The first three issues (Divinity & Politics, The Natural World, Language & Literature) will be released during weeks 3, 5 and 7 of Semester 1; and the last three issues (Astronomy & Mathematics, Geography & Exploration, Arts) during weeks 3, 5 and 7 of Semester 2. Each issue will be sold locally, from the Help Desk in the Main Library for £3. A limited edition, boxed set which will include all six issues in a deluxe, gold-foil stamped box was released on St Andrews Day (30 November) 2013. This boxed set is limited to a print run of 600, with each hand-numbered, and will be sold internationally; it is now available to order from the University's online shop.