New book explores Aberdeen ‘treasures’

New book explores Aberdeen ‘treasures’

A new richly illustrated book introducing readers to the treasures of the University of Aberdeen’s remarkable historic collections will be launched today (Wednesday December 14).

The 360-page work, The Library and Archive Collections of the University of Aberdeen, an Introduction and Description, traces the history of the collections over 500 years.

It is the most substantial overview of the collection to be published since the 1930s and greatly extends available knowledge of the artefacts contained within it.

The new book, edited by three Aberdeen academics - Dr Iain Beavan, Professor Peter Davidson and Professor Jane Stevenson, also describes significant historical items which have never previously been published.

The University of Aberdeen’s collections are of significant international importance as an intact accumulation of everything from 1st century Papyri to 21st century artists’ books, with important and unique Mediaeval and renaissance manuscripts, early printed books and a superb collection of material focused on the Jacobite risings and the Stuart Dynasty.

The Library and Archive Collections of the University of Aberdeen begins with the books and manuscripts given at the foundation of King’s College in 1495, continues with the collections which accrued to Marischal College from its foundation in 1593 and the fusion of the two colleges in 1860 into the modern University of Aberdeen.

Professor Davidson said: “From the beginning, the scope and focus of the University was international, and its developing collections represent a microcosm of the world of knowledge as it changed over the centuries.

“The University Colleges of Aberdeen have a distinct intellectual tradition: pragmatically tolerant in times of persecution, dissident from the religious and political policies of the lowlands, looking outwards to the world of northern Europe and to the territories of the Jacobite diaspora. 

“This book introduces one of the oldest continually-evolving academic library collections of the Anglophone world, surveys its history, and includes a series of studies of items or collections of particular interest.”

Professor Ian Diamond, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen, added: “Our collections are of international significance and the new library building is helping to open up the treasures contained within them to the public.

“Now we have a book that offers a ‘gateway’ to those world class collections and a fascinating perspective on our own institutional history and the development of the University as an intellectual community.”