New College Library




New College Library, 40 George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9JX


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 and 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 the British Library Inter-Library Loan scheme. New College is not able to participate in the ABTAPL inter-library loan scheme. Visitors can apply for a reference card or a borrower’s card. See website above.

Number of volumes

over 250,000

Periodicals – Back Issues


Current Periodicals


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



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


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


Part Time 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.