University of St Andrews: Special Collections Relocation


The University of St Andrews is a public university in St Andrews, Fife, Scotland. It is the oldest of the four ancient universities of Scotland and, following Oxford and Cambridge universities, the third-oldest university in the English-speaking world.

Client Requirements

The University Library’s Special Collections holds rare printed books (including first editions and collectables), manuscripts, photographs (including; negatives on glass and film of varying sizes, lantern slides, prints, postcards and transparencies), and the University archive. Built up since the University’s foundation in the 15th century, these collections offer rich opportunities for teaching and research.

The University had a requirement to move its Special Collections of printed books, manuscripts, photographs, and the University’s archive, from three University locations in St Andrews to the Claverhouse storage facility in Dundee.

The moves needed to happen during a live environment within daytime hours, and some of the collections were in locations with access restrictions.



One key aspect of this project was co-ordination of moving the collection from its three locations during working hours, so the moves had to be carefully planned. Pickfords met with the University three times prior to the move to prepare a plan that integrated all labour, transport, trolleys/handling equipment and packing crates to provide bespoke protection and buffering.

The collections are delicate and so would require careful handling. Most of the material was boxed already, but we consolidated smaller boxes in their own packing crates for extra protection.

To protect the materials from adverse weather, the collections were covered with polythene sheeting when being moved between the various buildings and our vehicles. Cages and cartons were further protected with polythene.

All material was packed in sequential order and relocated to specific shelves in the new facility.

To abide by the University’s strict insurance requirements, Pickfords ensured that a driver was in charge of the vehicle at all times during loading and unloading, and that no unauthorised stops were made while traveling from St Andrews to Dundee.

Our previous experience in library moves, and sequential packing, was integral in Pickfords successfully carrying out this collection relocation.



Pickfords provided the University of St Andrews with a complete solution for the relocation of its Special Collection from three sites to the storage site at Claverhouse, whilst minimising disruption to staff and students, and within accordance of the agreed plan and timescales.

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