University of St Andrews

University Library Special Collections

Research and enquiries

Handling Special Collections material

Handling Special Collections material

Example of a bound volume on a book rest

Please take special care when handling the collections whether books, manuscripts, plans or photographs and observe the following rules:

  • Avoid using hand creams before handling books and documents. Dry hands thoroughly after washing and remove any nail polish. If the nail polish cannot be removed, you will be asked to wear gloves while handling collections material.

  • Do not lean on anything produced for your use or rest your own notes on original material.

  • Please use book rests as appropriate to the size and condition of the volume. Book snakes are available to hold down pages.

  • Never try to force a book to open further than its binding will easily allow.

  • Strips of acid-free paper are available to mark your place.  Never use sticky notes.

  • All manuscripts must be kept in their original order.

  • Documents with attached seals must be viewed on a cushioned surface.

  • Weights are available to hold down the corners of rolled plans. Keep plans in order within their bundle and re-roll them so that the reference number is visible on the outside.

  • Gloves should be worn when consulting photographic material, to which special rules may also apply.

When you are finished and ready to leave:

  • Readers are responsible for all the material they are consulting until it is checked back in. Do not leave material unattended.

  • Please remember to reclaim your reader card before you leave.

If in any doubt, please ask a member of staff for assistance; we are happy to help.

Special Collections for Groups

Learn about how we share our treasured collections with specialist groups and schools and how we use materials for teaching within the University.

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.