Friends of the Library

Bestiary beasts from MS 24 F9

The Friends of Aberdeen University Library is a Registered Charity (SC009009) founded in 1962.

The aims of the Friends are

  • to encourage donations of funds and of books, prints, manuscripts and other items of interest to the Library
  • to help the Library buy special books, manuscripts and other items of interest
  • to encourage interest in the Library and the potential of its collections

The Library at the University of Aberdeen is as old as the University itself. It represents a unique resource for teaching, research and scholarship. The Library operates an 'open door' policy whereby the riches of its collections are available for consultation to members of the general public. The Library is central to University teaching and research and it is also a key resource for the local community.

To visit us

To visit the Sir Duncan Rice Library you can register for an access pass at the Welcome desk on the Ground Floor. Please bring photographic proof of identity.

Our Collections

The collections are rich and diverse, ranging from manuscripts and early printed works to the most modern computer-based resources. They include:

  • the MacBean Stuart and Jacobite Collection
  • the Gregory Collection of Scientific and Medical works
  • The O'Dell Collection of books on railways and transport
  • the George Washington Wilson Collection of late Victorian/Edwardian photographs
  • the Local History Collection
  • European Documentation Centre - with every official publication of the EU (held in Taylor Library)
  • over a million books and journals supporting teaching, learning and research in Arts & Humanities, Medicine, Divinity, Agriculture, Social Sciences, Science and Engineering, Law etc.

View some Library Resources

Some of the treasures of the University of Aberdeen's Library have been digitised. You may wish to have a look at some or all of these or you may wish to search the Library catalogue for items of interest to yourself. Simply click on the resource you would like to see or to use.

By becoming a member of the Friends you will help this unique Library to develop its collections in a way that will benefit the University community and the people of the North of Scotland. Membership currently stands at more than 200 people with addresses as far afield as Australia and Canada.

Members of the Friends benefit from:

  • A newsletter, which appears twice a year, with details of recent purchases made possible by the Friends, announcements and reports on Friends' activities, and news of the Library generally
  • Meetings (usually at least twice a year with one coinciding with the Annual General Meeting). These either feature an invited speaker talking on aspects of the Library's holdings or visits to Behind the Scenes areas which members of the public generally never see (e.g. the University Bindery)
  • The opportunity to become a borrowing member of the Library at special discounted rates
  • The opportunity to contribute to the development of the Library and its holdings

How to become a Member of the Friends

Membership is open to anyone interested in Aberdeen University Library

Gift Aid: If you qualify for Gift Aid, the Friends benefit additionally from your subscription

There are two forms of membership: Annual Membership or Life Membership

Annual Membership

minimum donation of £10.00 per annum
Additionally, this membership allows you to become a borrowing member of the Library. The special discounted rate, in addition to the cost of Friends' membership, is:

  • Aberdeen Graduates
    £30.00 returnable deposit plus £15.00 annual subscription
  • Other Friends of the Library
    £30.00 returnable deposit plus £25.00 annual subscription

Life Membership

minimum donation of £150.00
This can be paid either:

  • in one payment, or
  • spread over up to 4 years

Life Members of the Friends are entitled to free borrowing membership of the Library.

If you would like to join the Friends of Aberdeen University Library please download
and complete a membership application form or contact:

Honorary Secretary
Friends of Aberdeen University Library
The Sir Duncan Rice Library
University of Aberdeen
Bedford Road
AB24 3AA

tel: +44 (0) 1224 27 4037


Friends of Aberdeen University Library Talks 2017/18

All events are free to attend, and hosted in the Special Collections Centre Seminar Room of the Sir Duncan Rice Library.

The Friends events schedule for 2016/17 has now concluded.  The 2017/18 schedule is currently being drafted, and will return in Autumn 2017.


2016-17 Events Archive

Thursday 27th April 2017, 6pm

Friends of Aberdeen University Library AGM, followed at 6.30pm by, The Life and Travels of the Intrepid Maria Graham

Speaker: Professor Patience Schell

Venue: Special Collections Seminar Room, Lower Ground Floor of the Sir Duncan Rice Library

Maria Graham (1785-1842) was an intrepid travel writer, editor, historian and consummate observer of flora, fauna and natural phenomena.  Daughter of a naval family and eventually a navy captain’s wife (and premature widow), Graham travelled to India, Italy and South America, observing local culture, witnessing historic moments, like the Spanish American independence struggles, and meeting important historical figures, like the Brazilian imperial family, for whom she was briefly a governess.  Based on her travels, Graham authored Three Months Passed in the Mountains East of Rome during the Year 1819, Journal of a Residence in Chile 1822, and a Voyage from Chile to Brazil in 1823 and Journal of a Voyage to Brazil and Residence there, 1821-23, amongst other works. An editor and reviewer for John Murray publishers (later publishers of Charles Darwin), Graham also participated in scientific debates about the nature of earthquakes, based on her experience of the 1822 earthquake in Chile, becoming embroiled in controversy as there were some who doubted the reliability of a woman’s observations.  Her last work, A Scripture Herbal (1842), a Biblical botanical guide, was written from her sickbed. This talk will examine the life, works and times of the indomitable Maria Graham.


Thursday 19th January 2017, 6pm

King's College Archives Project: A tale of devoted, distinguished and sometimes disreputable scholars of the King's College of Aberdeen

Speaker: Mary Sabiston

Venue: Special Collections Seminar Room, Lower Ground Floor of the Sir Duncan Rice Library

From distinguished professors to disreputable students, this talk will focus on the rich and diverse lives of the scholars of King’s College. The project has highlighted some interesting sources, which provide a glimpse into the personal histories of many of the King’s College scholars. The statements of the students and bystanders involved in the riots of 1659 document the chaos of the night. Whilst legal papers record the official protests of the professors and masters against their rival’s appointments and promotions. Through the lens of the scholars of the college, the value and strength of this archive will be brought into focus.

To accompany the talk a small selection of material from the archive will be on display alongside some stunning digital images of items from the collection.

The project was co-funded by Special Collections and the Friends of Aberdeen University Library.


Thursday 27th October, 6pm

The Aberdeen Bestiary: made in Bridlington?

Speaker: Professor Jane Geddes

Venue: Special Collections Seminar Room, Lower Ground Floor of the Sir Duncan Rice Library

The new Aberdeen Bestiary website, with images of startling clarity, prompts a new enquiry into the source of the manuscript. Can tiny clues within the book point towards its place of production? Why suggest Bridlington Priory? The lecture examines shreds of evidence within the manuscript, and the overwhelming interest in bestiary lore and making books at Bridlington.

The high-tech imagery of the new Aberdeen Bestiary website allows the book to be examined in more detail than ever before. It is one of the finest manuscripts produced in 12th-century England, and has an almost identical partner Oxford, Bod. MS Ashmole 1511. The pair are among a group of deluxe manuscripts made in northern England, whose source is not known. They are linked by style and a strong Augustinian background. One Augustinian priory, Bridlington, places bestiary lore at the core of its regulations for monastic conduct. It also had a thriving scriptorium. If this is not sufficient evidence to nail the source of the manuscript, the lecture will demonstrate the type of setting where our bestiary was produced.

Professor Geddes teaches medieval history of art at Aberdeen University. She has worked on websites for the Aberdeen Bestiary and St Albans Psalter, both intriguing highlights of 12th-century art. She is currently working with the Getty Museum in California to deliver an international exhibition about bestiaries.



Emma Fowlie, Honorary Secretary

e: t: 01224 274037


Friends of Aberdeen University Library       Folio 27v, the silver coloured dove

Postgraduate Research Bursary 2017


Applications are invited for the Friends of Aberdeen University Library Postgraduate Research Bursary awards 2017. This award of £3000   is offered to a candidate in the early stages of a supervised postgraduate research degree (PhD or Masters by Research). It is a one-off bursary payment designed to support research based on and making particular use of materials held in Special Libraries and Archives or other areas of the University of Aberdeen’s historic collections.

Applicants must hold an offer of study from the University to begin in September 2017 or be less than 50% through their period of study at that time. Applicants should complete the form below. Additionally they should attach a research proposal of 1000-2000 words explaining the scope of the project, the suitability of the research environment at the University of Aberdeen, and the relevance of the University’s collections to the project. This award can be held in conjunction with other funding awards such as those offered by AHRC and ESRC, or an Elphinstone Scholarship. For further information. contact Professor Hazel Hutchison, Chair of the Friends:


Please send your completed form to Emma Fowlie, Secretary of the Friends of Aberdeen University Library at by Tuesday 28th February 2017.


Visiting  Scholar Awards

The Friends of Aberdeen University Library have been supporting Humanities research in Aberdeen for over fifty years. We are delighted to be supporting a new research award, 'The Special Collections Centre Visiting Scholar Award', in conjunction with Aberdeen Humanities Fund, the Special Collections Centre and the generosity of Henry Doss and Chris Arvidson. To find out more about this exciting new scheme, please visit:



The Friends will consider applications for funding, usually up to £3,000, to acquire materials or support projects which enhance the Library’s collections and promote their use. These might include:

  • Acquiring rare and valuable books and others items which the University may not be able to purchase from other resources
  • Building and equipping exhibition areas within the Library
  • Providing research facilities for scholars studying the Library’s special collections
  • Providing other facilities which promote the Library and its use

University staff, research students and independent scholars are invited to apply.

To apply, please complete the undernoted form and send to Emma Fowlie, Secretary of the Friends of Aberdeen University Library at


Please describe the nature of your project, stating how your request will benefit the Library collections and other users, and explaining why alternative funding is unavailable or insufficient. Applications are welcome from students and staff of the University, Friends of Aberdeen University Library and other users of the Library.