Mackintosh Library Collections: Our History

Bernardino Genga (1691)
Anatomia per uso et intelligenza del disegno (GSA Mackintosh Library, Arts Pedagogy Collection)

The very first inventory of the Glasgow School of Art Library is held in Archives and Collections, bound with other inventories in a single volume [GSAA.GOV.7.1]. The volume contains two library inventories, one for a reference library and one for a lending library. Entries are undated, but the first book to be accessioned into the catalogue is still held by the Library and bears a bookplate with an 1847 date of deposit. Each volume was assigned an accession number in the inventory, and these numbers often appear in manuscript towards the front of the physical volumes.

From the late 1840s the School’s annual reports [GSAA.GOV.1] sometimes note the purchase or donation of specific volumes for the library. The reports also note the awarding of prize books to individual students, some of which remain in the library’s collections with their prize certificates. Similarly, donations and purchases are often noted in the Governors’ Minutes [GSAA.GOV.2], which include the minutes of the Library and Materials Sub-Committee.

All relevant information from these sources has now been transcribed up until the 1950s, with information added to catalogue records. Where volumes are no longer held by the libray, records have been added to the library catalogue for digital surrogates where these are available. Much of the material is on art and architecture, but there are also examples of literature, philosophy, and aesthetics. The books that form our foundation collections give a rich insight into the curricula of the day.

For an in-depth discussion of our early collections and how they relate to 19th century arts pedagogy, please see:

Chappell, D. (2016) ‘The early history and collections of Glasgow School of Art library 1845–1945’, Library and Information History, vol. 32, no. 3, pp.161-174, Available (subscription required)