New College Library

Our library is housed in the magnificent High Church – integrated into the heart of New College.

New College Library
New College Library

New College Library 

New College Library has one of the largest collections for theology and religious studies in the UK. We hold more than a quarter of a million printed items, including many rare and historic books. We also have a large and rich manuscript collection, including the papers of Thomas Chalmers, John Baillie, J H Oldham and James S Stewart.

The University's libraries hold many treasures and total holdings of more than 2.25 million volumes.

Students studying in New College library
Stained glass windows inside the library


New College’s library was originally housed in the Martin Hall however, according to Rev Professor Hugh Watt’s centenary history it was, ‘once characterised by a speaker at the General Assembly as one of the finest in the country and the worst housed’. So by 1934 new library premises were sought. It was decided that the High Church – already integrated within the New College buildings - was such a natural choice that one could be forgiven for believing Playfair had its repurposing in mind all along!

The new library was officially opened on 8 October 1936. Describing the initial response, Watt writes: The beauty of the Hall was admired by all, the windows of course receiving an especial meed of praise … The colour of the walls, carefully chosen, provides a “just right” frame for the lovely windows, throwing into relief their harmonious beauty.

(Watt, pp. 174-175)

In 2020 work began to upgrade New College Library. The comprehensive refurbishment updated the 1930s infrastructure and protect the precious collections from fire risk.

This meant that the New College Library collections and services were temporarily moved. In September 2023, New College Library was reopened.


New College Library Opening Hours

Phone: 0131 650 8957


New College Library

Mound Place