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Acquisitions, 1619-1946

Identifier: EUA IN1/ADS/LIB/2

Scope and Contents

Records of donations, deposits and accessions to Edinburgh University Library:

  1. Accessions and Donations Books
  2. Matriculation & Laureation Accounts
  3. Student Library Accounts
  4. Curators' Minute Books
  5. Book Purchase Sub-committee
  6. Book Recommendations


  • Creation: 1619-1946


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Certain material may be restricted due to Data Protection and other legislative reasons.

Biographical / Historical

The University Library was begun in 1580 by a donation of books by Clement Littil, an Edinburgh advocate and commissary. He left his theological books to Edinburgh and its Kirk and these were subsequently steered into the 'Town's College' by his brother in 1584.

The library collections were subsequently augmented by gifts and donations. Two major gifts, from William Drummond of Hawthornden (1585-1649) in the 1620s and 1630s, and one more major bequest, from a former Keeper of the Library, the Rev. James Nairn (1629-1678) in 1678, helped establish the Library as a working collection.

It had also become customary for students to make a gift of money or books at their graduation. In the mid seventeenth century, students were encouraged to contribute to the Library at matriculation as well as graduation. Books were also received from other sources. In 1710, the Copyright Act entitled the four Scottish Universities to receive a copy of every book registered at Stationers' Hall. This entitlement lasted until 1837.

The Committee of Curators was formed in 1807, initially numbering twelve of those professors willing to undertake such duties and rotated with four retiring annually. In 1842 the number of Curators was reduced to six. Its role was to act as a regulator to the Library, including sanctioning the purchase of new books. In 1847, the Principal became an ex-officio Curator.

The Book Purchase Sub-committee was established in 1895 to which the Librarian had to report regularly on expediture and available funds. It selected and recommended books for purchase for approval at the full Library Committee.

By the 1930s recommendation methods also came from 'suggestion forms', available to Library and academic staff, or via the suggestions book which was kept at the main counter of the Library.


1 volume

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379