The historic Martyrs’ Church in North Street, St Andrews is set to become a new special collections and research library, with a facility for consulting some of the University of St Andrews’ most valuable collections.
The University has bought the vacant church from the Church of Scotland for an undisclosed sum with a view to enhancing and extending its Library facilities in the town centre.
Martyrs, which has been unused for several years, offers the opportunity to establish a central research library and special collections reading room. The University is planning to put some of its rare book and manuscript treasures on display within the kirk.
The University’s special collections are highly valued and regarded as one of the finest academic collections in Europe. They have long lacked suitable display and study space.
Martyrs had been offered for sale by the Church of Scotland on behalf of the congregation of Hope Park and Martyrs Church and had attracted interest from pub, restaurant and nightclub concerns, as well as the University.
A spokesperson said :
“Martyrs’ Kirk is an iconic property in the heart of one of the most historic parts of town and has many qualities which we believe lend themselves to the establishment of a research library and reading room for the study of our special collections. It is an inspiring location, fitting for the display and research consultation of the rare and unique books and papers which constitute the University’s treasured intellectual heritage,” he said.
“We are delighted to have acquired the property and been able to ensure its future as a place of study.
“We hope to bring forward detailed plans in the near future in close consultation with our Library staff and academic colleagues and believe our visions for the kirk will respect its heritage and history.”
The development of Martyrs as a special collections and research library will run in parallel with the ongoing refurbishment and extension of study space at the Main Library in North Street.
St Andrews is already embarked on a £14 million phased library redevelopment and investment in its collections.
The initial phase of the revamp has provided 74 extra entrance level study spaces (334 in total), bookable study rooms, improved heating and lighting and a new 76-seat café, named Café 1413 in recognition of the University’s 600th anniversary campaign.
Much of the redevelopment is being carried out in line with student demand, with students being consulted throughout and given the opportunity to select the style of furniture in the main seating areas.
The second part of the redevelopment project to improve levels 3 and 4 in the Main Library is almost complete.
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