New College Library, Edinburgh University

Last updated 5th March 2021
Name of library New College Library
Address New College Library, 40 George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9JX
Telephone 0131 650 8957
Alternative names University of Edinburgh Library
Contact & Job Title Margaret Redpath, Library Services Manager
Purpose & main user community of the library Students & Staff of the School of Divinity in the University of Edinburgh. External researchers. Members of the public.
Terms of access 
Opening hours
Disabled access Currently no disabled access
Lending to other libraries & visitors Participates in ILL schemes. Visitors can apply for a reference card or a borrower’s card. See website above.
Number of volumes over 250,000
Periodicals – Back Issues 1,100
Current Periodicals 170
Other materials Significant Special Collections & Archives. Collection of objects and pictures relating to New College and the Church of Scotland. Access to online resources for students & staff of Edinburgh University.
Volumes added per year 1,200
Coverage Strong antiquarian theological collections, and collections on non-Christian religions. New College Library covers all aspects of the study of the Christian religion, and religious studies. In addition Edinburgh University Library in George Square also contains relevant material
Special Collections New College Library was founded upon donations, including many rare books from libraries, churches and individuals across Europe. Significant items and collections include: Acta Sanctorum (1643-1794), Dumfries Presbytery Library, early printed Bibles in Latin, Greek, English and polyglot versions, Gaelic collection, Hymnology collections, Incunabula, Pamphlets collection & Paterson Bible collection
Manuscripts Significant archive and manuscript collections contain many early items such as the last speech and testimony of covenanter James Renwick in 1688. Papers of noteworthy individuals include the leader of the 1843 Disruption, Thomas Chalmers, and New College Principals Robert Rainy and Alexander Whyte. Twentieth century collections include the papers of J.S. Oldham, Tom Allan and John McIntyre, recording for posterity their contribution to the religious life of Scotland and beyond.
Research resource Biblical studies, patristics, missions, liturgy, hymnology, ecumenism, general church history (particularly Reformed), Scottish church history, non-Christian religions.
Catalogue Type Online & sheaf
URL of catalogue
Other facilities Photocopying, scanning & printing. Digitisation of Special Collections & Archives.
Full Time Staff 2
Part Time Staff 4
Voluntary Staff
Changes in next five years affecting the above New College Library is temporarily relocating to David Hume Tower, George Square, Edinburgh towards the summer of 2022 at the earliest. This is to allow essential works to be carried out.
Anything else about the library As will be obvious to anyone who enters New College Library, the Library Hall was formerly a church, namely the Free High Church. The congregation which worshipped here was re-located in 1934. The architect chosen to adapt the original Playfair design for Library use was Mr Lorne Campbell. The earth under the church floor was excavated to allow three stackrooms below the Library Hall. Wood from the original church fittings was re-used and can be seen in the many delicate woodcarvings that adorn the Library.  The Library also retains the church’s original ten stained glass windows donated by Miss Grace Warrack and designed by Dr Douglas Strachan. The windows were completed between 1911 and 1934.