Resources for Christian ministry and worship at New College Library

Today New College welcomes ministers and worship leaders to a CPD day focusing on Biblical resources. Topics include current scholarship on the Gospel of John and Advent themes in the Hebrew Bible.

At New College Library, we welcome people working in the church to use our outstanding theological collections for research and continuing professional development. Continue reading

Psalm singing and the Reformation

New College Library welcomes delegates to The Cultures of the Reformation: A Colloquium in Honour of Professor Jane Dawson on Thursday 1 June 2017. We have updated our current display of early psalm books and Scottish liturgy to include two new items.

The CL. Psalmes of David in meter : for the vse of the Kirk of Scotland : the contents of this buke follovve in the next page after the kalender. Imprinted at London : By Thomas Vautrollier dwelling in the Black-Friers, 1587.  tUR 77 1587

Continue reading

Historic New College Library partnership begins a new chapter

Founded in 1843 as the Library of the Free Church College, and now serving the School of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh, New College Library is one of the largest theology libraries in the UK with approximately a quarter of a million items.

There have been a number of legacy arrangements allowing borrowing access for ministers of the Church of Scotland and Free Church of Scotland. This reflects the partnership between the University of Edinburgh and the Church of Scotland, which has resulted in the Church’s historic collections being maintained at New College Library and supported by the University of Edinburgh. As of 1 March 2017, we have streamlined our access arrangements and now provide free borrowing access (ID and evidence of status required) to ministers, retired ministers and employees of the Church of Scotland and Free Church of Scotland. Registration enables access to all nine site libraries within the University of Edinburgh Library, including New College and the Main University Library.

Inside New College Library

Continue reading

Digital explorations in New College Library : James Kirkwood’s vision today

A guest post from Chloe Elder – New College Library Special Collections Digitisation Intern

Considering the ease with which most of us have access to information, it can be easy to forget the long way society has come in its efforts to provide resources for the public. For example, I’ve written this post on my very portable laptop in my Wi-Fi enabled flat and with my iPhone in constant peripheral vision. As we all know, before the days of the internet, our search for information required a trip to the library, but public libraries as we know them today did not exist before the middle of the nineteenth century. In the centuries preceding, the library has evolved from storehouses for records and archives, to ecclesiastical and academic cloisters, and the private collections of the elite and learned. And beginning in the late seventeenth century history, history saw a shift from the relative seclusion of these repositories toward a trend that supported the public dissemination of knowledge. One pioneer in this effort in Scotland was James Kirkwood, who is best known for his determination to provide Bibles to the parishes of the Scottish Highlands and for advocating for the establishment of parish libraries throughout Scotland in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.

James Kirkwood's signature. MSS KIR, New College Library

James Kirkwood’s signature. MSS KIR 3.1, New College Library

Continue reading

Mission to the Middle East : discovering collections

This week New College Library welcomes delegates of the 2016 conference of the Yale-Edinburgh Group on the History of the Missionary Movement and World Christianity.

I’ve been discovering that New College Library’s unique collections include some fascinating materials from the Church of Scotland’s development of missions to Jews in the Middle East, in the nineteenth century. In particular we hold books, archives and objects relating to Rev. Andrew A. Bonar and Rev. Robert Murray McCheyne, and a selection of items from these collections are now on display in the New College Library entrance. Bonar and McCheyne were appointed by the Church of Scotland in 1838 as part of a deputation to visit Jewish communities in Europe and the Middle East, with a view to future mission activity. Continue reading

New College Library welcomes the General Assembly 2016

New College Library welcomes attendees of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, which will take place between 21 and 27 May 2016.

New College Library

Church of Scotland visitors to the Library are encouraged to apply for a free reference access card, for which photographic ID, proof of address and colour passport-size/style photograph is required. If you are applying for a reference card you may fill in the application form online before visiting the library, and you can check the online library catalogue, DiscoverEd, in advance of your visit. Borrowing access is also available, please ask Helpdesk staff for details. Alumni of the University of Edinburgh are entitled to additional library benefits, including free borrowing and access to JSTOR online journals.

Both reference access and alumni library cards entitle the holder to use not only New College Library but all of the University of Edinburgh libraries, including the Main Library at George Square. This year General Assembly visitors may be interested to visit the Given in Good Faith exhibition being held at the Main Library’s Centre for Research Collections. This highlights some of the treasures of New College Library, through themes of church history, worship, science and scripture which would have been familiar to the staff and students of New College in 1843.


Researchers wanting to trace previous discussions of this year’s debates can consult the Reports to the General Assembly or Blue Books, which are held in New College Library at sLX 50 B.  This year’s Blue Book is available to download from the Church of Scotland website.  For further information on Church of Scotland resources see Researching the Church of Scotland at New College Library.

New College itself will be very busy during this period, with all of the teaching rooms occupied by the Assembly. This includes the David Welsh Reading Room in New College Library which is being used for Assembly purposes. Library users are advised to carry their UoE staff/student card with them at all times as there may be a security presence at the entrance to New College.

Christine Love-Rodgers – Academic Support Librarian, Divinity

Given in Good Faith : Making Presbyterian History

If you visit the Given in Good Faith exhibition, currently open at the Centre for Research Collections, you’ll be able to see some of New College Library’s treasures set in the context of the exhibition themes of church history, worship, scripture and science.

For the first of these themes, church history, we chose Special Collections items that demonstrated how New College Library’s historic collections look back to the Free Church of Scotland’s intellectual history and reflect its heritage as a centre of learning for Presbyterian ministry.

Treasures from the Reformation include the first edition of John Calvin (1509-1564)’s Institutes of the Christian Religion. One of New College Library’s iconic items, this guide and inspiration for a new form of Christian life, became a hugely influential work of Protestant theology. Less than a dozen copies of this edition are known to be in existence.

Calvin, Jean. Christiane religionis institutio, totam ferè pietatis summã. Basel: Thomas Platterum & Balthasarem Lasium, 1536. TR.852

Calvin, Jean. Christiane religionis institutio, totam ferè pietatis summã. Basel: Thomas Platterum & Balthasarem Lasium, 1536. TR.852

Continue reading

John Knox and the Scottish Reformed Kirk

At 4pm today, Tuesday 19 May, in the Assembly Hall, Prof Jane Dawson will address the General Assembly on the topic of John Knox, following publication of her recent biography. Prof. Dawson’s new book is on display in the Funk Reading Room and in the main display case we have early printed books from the time of John Knox selected by Prof. Dawson to illustrate key themes about his ministry and the development of the Scottish Reformed Kirk from 1560 onwards.

Knox, John. Sermon on Isaiah. London, 1566. New College Library LR1/7

Knox, John. Sermon on Isaiah. London, 1566. New College Library LR1/7

This sermon by Knox was preached on 19 August 1565, in St Giles’ Kirk where Knox was minister and is the only full text of one of Knox’s sermons to have come down to us. It was printed because Knox had been given a temporary preaching ban having offended King Henry [Lord Darnley and husband of Mary, Queen of Scots] by Knox’s pointed use of the Old Testament story of Ahab and Jezebel.

tUR 77 1596

Psalmes of David [Henry Charteris ] 1596 New College Library tUR 1596

The ‘Psalm Buik’. This metrical Psalter was used by the Reformed Kirk after the Scottish Protestant Reformation and this volume comes from the end of the sixteenth century because multiple editions were produced to satisfy demand. John Knox’s congregation in Geneva had started the project [1555-9] and it had been further developed in Scotland after 1560. Psalm singing played a central role in Reformed worship and in the lives of ordinary Scots, especially those who could not read but could sing and so remember the words of the psalms.

Knox, John. An Answer Geneva, 1560. LR1/7

Knox, John. An Answer Geneva, 1560. LR1/7

Knox’s ‘Answer’. This was Knox’s longest book and dealt with the doctrine of predestination. It was published in Geneva in 1560 after Knox had returned to Scotland. Following the lead of John Calvin on predestination, Knox refuted an anonymous author who had championed free will. As was common practice, Knox challenged each of his opponent’s arguments in turn – this makes the book long and not an easy read!

*With thanks to Prof Jane Dawson for this blog post text*

Christine Love-Rodgers – Academic Support Librarian – Divinity

Researching the Church of Scotland at New College Library

NEW COLLEGE 12.7-MThe General Assembly of the Church of Scotland 2015 will take place between 16 and 23 May 2015. Staff and students continue to have access to New College and New College Library as normal, but as there may be an additional security presence at the entrance to New College we advise carrying your UoE staff/student card with you at all times.

At this time of year we expect to welcome visiting ministers and members of the Church of Scotland community to New College Library, often to research and reflect on the topics of business at the General Assembly.

For research into current issues in the Kirk, the Reports of the General Assembly are held in Stack II at sLX 50 B, side by side with the Principal Acts of the General Assembly at sLX50 AB.  Documentation from the last five years of the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly is also available free to download from their website at – recent membership and documentation for Church of Scotland Councils, committees and departments is also available from their website.We continue to collect the daily papers and proceedings of current General Assemblies of the Church of Scotland. The Church of Scotland Yearbook is also available, in Stack I at BX9076 Chu. The Church of Scotland magazine, Life and Work, has current issues on display in the current periodicals section in the Library Hall, with older bound volumes held downstairs in Stack II at Per L. When tracking down information about ministers, the Fasti ecclesiae Scoticanae remains a key tool, available at Ref. BX9099 Sco. in New College Library Hall.

For researchers interested in the historic Kirk, the Acts of the General Assembly are available from the seventeenth century onwards in Special and General Collections copies. New College Library’s print collections includes the collections of the former General Assembly Library, and also the Edinburgh Theological Library. This means that New College Library holds Church of Scotland accounts, orders of service, aids to devotion, Books of Discipline, Books of Common Prayer, publications of individual committees such as the Church and Nation Committee, and publications by groups such as Panel on Doctrine, Science, Religion & Technology. For those more interested in the Church of Scotland abroad rather than at home, we hold appeals, annual reports and archives relating to Church of Scotland missions.

University of Edinburgh users can access Acts and Proceedings of the General Assemblies of the Kirk of Scotland, 1560-1618 and Acts of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland 1638-1842 online via British History Online. Seven volumes of Hew Scott’s original Fasti ecclesiae Scoticanae are also available digitally to UofE users. Finally, Gale Newsvault provides University users with access to The Home and Foreign Record of the Church of Scotland.

Christine Love-Rodgers – Academic Support Librarian – Divinity