Rare Book Collections

Rare Book Collections

The University cares for over 230,000 printed items, dating from the 1460s to the present day. There are 52 printed collections containing items from the foundation libraries of the University, which cover a wide variety of academic subjects, including major holdings on Jacobitism, railways and Sir Walter Scott.


Until the fusion of King's and Marischal Colleges in 1860 to form the University of Aberdeen, these independent institutions had their own students, their own teaching staff and, importantly, their own libraries. King's College was founded in 1495, and its library came into being shortly thereafter. Marischal College, founded in 1593, had to wait until 1614, when library accommodation was found for the first of a number of substantial seventeenth-century benefactions.

The University of Aberdeen’s older printed collections reflect the richness of these legacies from the two colleges, and several are now considered to be of international significance. These collections, enhanced by the donations, bequests and purchases, enable the University to provide a set of resources of outstanding importance to scholarship and research.

Online Resources

Some of our collections are now available in digital format, for example The Drawn Sword: Engravings from the MacBean Collection. Browse our collections here.