On this day 400 years ago, 10 August 1612, three trunks full of books arrived by sea. The arrival of these books, a gift of almost 100 works from Queen Anne and Princess Elizabeth, mark the culmination of a royal donation of books from which we date the founding of the King James Library. Six days earlier, on 4 August 1612, 130 books were received by the University presented by King James VI & I, his elder son Prince Henry and his younger son Prince Charles.
This milestone is just one of many along the story of the founding of the Common Library (now informally known as the King James Library) of the University of St Andrews, a story which spans over a century of Reformation, expansion and change. This is the subject of a new exhibition opening on 8 September 2012 and running until 8 December 2012 in the Gateway Galleries, located on the North Haugh in St Andrews. A Royal Foundation: 400 years of the King James Library, co-curated by the Department of Special Collections and Museum Collections, will explore the story of the founding of the University Library through the fascinating books, manuscripts and artefacts associated with it.
- The Upper Hall, or King James Library, by James Fairweather, about 1898 (from the Photographic Collection).
A great series of events are scheduled to coincide with this exhibition, including print- and book-making workshops for families, a book swap and talks by the curators. Special Collections and Museum Collections will also be running a series of blogs and Facebook posts that will give those interested a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of an exhibition and also some personal anecdotes of working in the modern King James Library.
Keep your eye on this space in the next few weeks and months for more!
–Daryl Green & Mark Macleod
Acting Rare Books Librarian & Operations and Projects Curator
Originally posted on Echoes from the Vault 10 August 2012.