Books and Borrowing, Edinburgh 1750-1830


Was the most borrowed author of the Scottish Enlightenment French? Did readers rush to their libraries to borrow the latest Romantic poetry? What genres and authors dominate the lists of the most-borrowed books in Scotland from 1750 to 1830?

This talk will focus on four Edinburgh libraries, and their users, studied in recent the ‘Books and Borrowing, 1750-1830’ project: The Royal High School Library, Edinburgh University Library, the Advocates Library, and Chambers’ Circulating Library. It will also introduce a new open access database that tells the story of book borrowing in Edinburgh … and beyond.

Kit Baston was a research fellow on the AHRC-funded project ‘Books and Borrowing, 1750-1830: An Analysis of Scottish Borrowers’ Registers’ which ran from 2020 to 2023 at the Universities of Stirling and Glasgow. Her book Charles Areskine’s Library: Scottish Lawyers and Their Books at the Dawn of the Enlightenment was published by Brill in 2016

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