Information Services

David Laing Prize

The Centre for Research Collections in the Main Library is offering a prize of £500 to the student with the best collection of printed books or other written materials.

yellow banner with simplified image of a stack of books

David Laing Book Collecting Prize: For the most enthusiastic student collector

If you are a current student of the University of Edinburgh, and collect books (loosely defined; see below*), you should consider submitting an essay about your collection, to be in with a chance of winning £500 to spend on your collection.

The David Laing Student Book Collecting Prize is intended to encourage collecting by undergraduates and graduate students of the University by recognising a collection formed by a student. The winner will be decided based on the interest, originality, thoughtfulness and creativity of the collection and vision, enthusiasm and persistence of the collector.  The age, size and monetary value of the collection will not be relevant criteria.

The collection must consist of not less than ten items with a theme.  These may be printed or handwritten books, ephemera or any other written material.

The prize will be:

  • A payment of £500 to the winner
  • An allowance of £250 to choose a book for the University of Edinburgh’s Special Collections, to be selected with Special Collections staff
  • Membership of the Friends of Edinburgh University Library.
  • Entry to the national student book collecting prize, sponsored by the Antiquarian Booksellers Association.
  • The winner will also be given the possibility of exhibiting a selection of his or her collection in the Centre for Research Collections.

The prize is offered in honour of David Laing (1793 -1878), the distinguished antiquarian, collector and librarian who bequeathed his important collection of manuscripts and other materials to the University of Edinburgh in 1878.

Applications for 2020-21 are now open - the closing date is 9am, Monday 18th January 2021. To apply please see the separate guidance document and application form.


* What is a book?

For the purposes of the prize, a collection must have at its core physical material with writing on it, in some form, and the text must be significant to the reason it has been collected.  The material may be printed, or handwritten, on any physical medium.  It may be supplemented with material in other formats.


Included: books; printed ephemera; written manuscripts; objects which use text to convey a message, e.g. packaging, signs, games.

Excluded: art which consists solely of images; objects without text, or where it is incidental to the interest of the object to the collection