Library Registers

Page from a borrowing register with handwritten entries.

Library borrowing registers can take various forms, from simple lists to pre-printed pages where the details about the book and borrower are added.

Image: Detail of Mrs Hutchins’s Chambers’ Library Borrowings, 1829, National Library of Scotland
© Chambers family. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Licence

Edinburgh students were enrolled in mid-December. Upon payment of their fees, they received a printed ticket saying 'Civis Bibliothecae Academicae Edinburgenae' that confirmed their membership of the University Library for the coming year. Students could borrow books for a fortnight on payment of a deposit equal to the value of the book. This was refunded when the book was returned. The University Library's borrowing registers are called 'receipt books' since they record financial transactions of borrowing alongside bibliographical and borrower information.

Charles Darwin (1809-1882) enrolled at the University of Edinburgh to study medicine in 1825, aged 16. He left without graduating two years later having undertaken natural history studies that influenced his career as a naturalist.

Subscribers to Robert Chambers’ Circulating Library selected borrowing packages based on price on annual, half-year, quarterly, or monthly terms. Options ranged from a ‘NEW BOOKS’ subscription which gave ‘the Privilege of getting the Earliest Reading of every New Publication, periodical or otherwise, Three Volumes at a time’ to an ‘OLD BOOKS’ subscription which allowed ‘Three Volumes at a time of any Book upwards of three years old’. Subscribers had access to periodicals including the Quarterly, Edinburgh, Westminster, London, and Foreign Quarterly Reviews.

Click 'Full Information' below to discover what the subscriptions cost in 1829.