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University of St Andrews Special Collections

About Catherine

I have always been interested in history, and studied Modern History with languages for my first degree. My interest in working with historical source materials was strengthened by my experience working as a research assistant during my degree, converting references to quotations from sources in Gothic script for a book by one of my lecturers.

I also have a passion for helping others access communication, which led me to train and practise as a community-based Speech and Language Therapist for the past eight years. However, my background interest in history and heritage always continued

and when I heard about the Skills for the Future project I felt it presented a wonderful opportunity to use my lifelong interest in history to develop a career within the archive sector. 


My traineeship at the University of St Andrews Special Collections involves me developing traditional archival skills including undertaking a cataloguing project, working on preservation of the collections and attending classes on palaeography, a skill which I can put into practice immediately in my cataloguing work. I am very excited to have this opportunity to develop new skills both in working directly with the wonderful collections at St Andrews, and in supporting others to access historical source materials relevant to their research and learning.

Alongside the practical experience and skills I’ll be gaining through working in the archives, I am very excited to be able to study accredited modules through the University of Dundee’s archives course. I’m hopeful that together this will provide a solid foundation for me to build a future career within the archive sector.

About University of St Andrews Special Collections

The Special Collections of the University Library are key cultural assets of the University and nation and are thus preserved in perpetuity to support use by the University and wider communities.

The Special Collections Division holds rare book, archival and photographic collections which by virtue of the uniqueness or rarity of the items contained within them, their physical form, content, depth of subject coverage or other special significance, are distinguished from the general stock of the Library. They receive special treatment in terms of housing, management, cataloguing, consultation, preservation and conservation. The University Library has been collecting books and archives for its entire six centuries, and the photographic collections have been developed since the birth of photography in the 19th century. The main role of Special Collections staff is to enable physical and intellectual access to these collections while at the same time ensuring their long-term preservation.

A new reading room for access to our materials was a key element of the Martyrs Kirk Research Library development in 2012/13. We are also actively planning new, purpose-built accommodation, and hope soon to be in a position to allow the wonderful collections in our care to fulfil their potential for the University and world-wide research communities.

Our archival collections contain unique materials in many different formats, covering a wide range of subjects and a time span of two millennia. Our trainee has the opportunity to work in a busy Special Collections service and to focus on traditional skills such as palaeography and cataloguing.