The eighteenth- and nineteenth-century borrowing registers (or “receipt books”) of the University of St Andrews Library are special in their scale and quality. One of the hidden treasures of the Library, they map both scholarly and leisure reading across two centuries, showing the emergence of modern disciplines, the rise and fall of authorial reputations, and the reading lives of hundreds of individual students, professors and townspeople.
Three registers exist for 1737-1759 for both professors and students, and two long runs cover 1768 to 1925 for students, and from 1773 to 1925 for professors. There are 45 volumes in total with between 200 and 700 pages in each.
Details of the whole collection can be found in the Records of the University Library.
The full collection of receipt books is held in the Library’s Special Collections Division and can be consulted there, but six of the most frequently used volumes have been digitised and are available here.
A project is underway to transcribe the content of these receipt books and to make the data searchable (see the Borrowing Registers Transcription Project).