Image of cats from the bestiaryThe Friends of Aberdeen University Library is a Registered Charity (SC009009) founded in 1962.

Membership currently stands at more than 200 people with addresses as far afield as Australia and Canada.

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. 


About the Friends

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
About the Library

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
  • the 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 Library Resources

Many of the treasures of the University of Aberdeen's Library have been digitised. View these online or search the Library catalogue for items of interest. Simply click on the resource you would like to see or to use.




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. 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 £20.00 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 £200.00. 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 2587

Committee Vacancies

Join the Friends of Aberdeen University Library

The FAUL Committee currently has a number of vacancies and we are keen for members of staff from all parts of the University to get involved. The Committee meets about 6 times a year.


Current Vacancies

Secretary: The Committee is looking to appoint a new Secretary who will work closely with the FAUL Administrative Officer to ensure the effective running of FAUL. The Secretary is one of the honorary officers of the organisation and as such plays a significant role in strategy and operations.

Committee Members: The Committee also seeks up to two further members from across the University who are keen to contribute to and shape FAUL’s ongoing activities.


Please direct informal enquiries to the chair of FAUL, Dr Andrew Dilley (

Please send expressions of interest in either the role of Secretary or in Committee membership to the FAUL Administrative Officer Mr Ewan Grant, ( by Friday 21 June.


Friends of Aberdeen University Library

Forthcoming Events 2018/19


College Voices - the story of Christ's College Aberdeen from 1843 - 2018

22nd November 2018, 18.00 - 19.30

College Voices tells the stories, scandals and legacies belonging to the rich and colourful history of 175 years of a Church College in Aberdeen

The forthcoming publication College Voices tells the history of the Church College in Aberdeen (1843 – 2018), not in a series of facts and figures but by telling the story of the people and personalities of those who built their lives into the structure.  This lavishly illustrated talk will tell of the characters of teachers and students who formed this rich and colourful history, travelled the world and left great legacies.  Hundreds of young men and later women passed through the College doors seeking to meet the demands of the College to become ministers of religion for the Free Church, the United Free Church and from 1929 to today, the Church of Scotland.

Clare Davidson, the author, who is the Administrator of what is now known as Christ’s College will also talk of the role the Special Collections played in bringing this history to life.

Guest Speaker: Clare Davidson, University of Aberdeen

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

Entry is free and the event is open to all.


Booking available via Eventbrite


Aberdeen's Canaletto Rediscovered: A nineteenth century collector and his bequest

7th February 2019, 18.00 - 19.30

The confirmation as an original by the eighteenth-century Venetian view-painter, Antonio Canaletto, of a painting of A Capriccio with Roman ruins and a bishop’s tomb in the University collection, much publicized in the national press in March 2018, provides the opportunity to explore both the stylistic context of the picture and the mid-nineteenth century bequest to Marischal College of which it formed part by the collector Alexander Henderson of Dyce.

The Capriccio with Roman ruins and a bishop’s tomb has in the past hung in various locations  in the University, from the Court Room in Marischal College to the Principal’s Lodgings in Old Aberdeen, but it was often assumed to be either a studio product or a work by one of Canaletto’s followers. John Gash, Senior Lecturer in the Department of History of Art, however, suspected that it was an original and enlisted the help of two outside specialists on Canaletto, Charles Beddington and Francis Russell, who both confirmed it as autograph. The results of this research were jointly published by John Gash and Charles Beddington in an article entitled “Paintings by Canaletto and his Father in Aberdeen University” in the December 2017 issue of The Burlington Magazine. The reference to Canaletto’s father is to Bernardo Canal, a painter of stage scenery who was his son’s teacher, and whom Beddington and Gash propose as the author of another picture in the University, a View of the Grand Canal with S. Simeone Piccolo and the Scalzi. Both paintings were bequeathed to the University in 1863 as part of a much larger bequest, including now world-renowned Greek vases, by Alexander Henderson of Dyce, whose collecting activities will also be discussed in the talk. The talk will coincide with a small temporary display of the pictures in the Library.

Guest Speaker: John Gash, University of Aberdeen

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

Entry is free and the event is open to all.


Booking available via Eventbrite


Friends of Aberdeen University Library AGM, followed at 6.30pm by a talk:

Testing Times

25th April 2019, 18.00 - 20.00

New health treatments and medicines are “scientifically proven using tests”, but this is not new, in fact it is ancient.

We test new medicines and treatments to see if they work. Surely, such tests are always “fair” in health care? Unfortunately, even with the best intentions for people, there are many examples of new and old treatment decisions that were not informed by reliable evidence about what works. This results in harm. The question is can we ensure a fair test of new treatments to reduce this uncertainty?

Professor Craig Ramsay from the Health Services Research Unit at University of Aberdeen will talk about the history of a “fair test” from ancient Greece, via the 17th Century to the present day in Aberdeen. He will showcase some of the fair tests from the North East that have changed your NHS experience, and illustrate that it can take a long time and many patients and public to get to an answer.

Guest Speaker: Professor Craig Ramsay, University of Aberdeen

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

Entry is free and the event is open to all.


Booking available via Eventbrite



Friends' News

The following issues of Friends' News are available in Adobe PDF format:

Apply for Funding

Friends of Aberdeen University Library Postgraduate Research Bursaries 2019/20

Applications are invited for the Friends of Aberdeen University Library Postgraduate Research Bursary awards 2019/20. This award of £3000 is offered to a candidate in the early stages of a supervised postgraduate research degree (PhD or Masters by Research) at The University of Aberdeen. It is a one-off bursary payment designed to support research based on and making particular use of rare and distinctive materials held in University of Aberdeen’s Libraries, Museums, or Special Collections.

Applicants must hold an offer of study from the University to begin in September 2019 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 1000-1500 words explaining their project and the relevance of the University’s collections to it. Projects will be judged on:

    • The academic merit of the proposed project
    • The feasibility of the proposed project
    • The strength of the connection to the rare and distinctive materials held in the University Libraries, Museums, or Special Collections

Further details on the criteria can be seen here.

For further information on the scheme, contact Dr Andrew Dilley, Chair of the Friends at

To apply please download and complete the Application Form. Please send completed forms to Ewan Grant, Administrative Officer of the Friends of Aberdeen University Library, at by 14th June 2019.  


General Funding

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.


Friends of Aberdeen University Library Visiting Scholar Awards

Applications for the 2019 Visiting Scholar Awards are now closed, please check back in 2020 for further information.


Friends of Aberdeen University Library Collection Development Awards 2018

Applications for the 2018 Collection Development Awards are now closed, please check back in 2019 for further information.