The George Waterston Library & Archives Collection


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Need help?

Rosie Filipiak, our librarian, can assist with your catalogue, reading and research enquiries. As she works one day a week, there may be a delay responding to your query. 

The Library

The SOC has been collecting ornithological books, journals and bird reports since 1948 to the present day, making it the largest ornithological library in Scotland. This up-to-date working collection has a particular emphasis on Scottish material and meets the needs of beginner bird watchers, researchers and professional ornithologists.

The Archives  

The Club has a large and unique collection of ornithological archives, ephemera and artefacts including material relating to the SOC, as well as notebooks, correspondence and photographs belonging to amateur enthusiasts and eminent Scottish ornithologists. Highlights include Baxter’s and Rintoul’s diaries and George Waterston’s bird watching notes written whilst incarcerated in a German prisoner of war camp. Our archives are now available to search on the JISC Archives Hub, using the link below. 


Obituaries of well-known Scottish ornithologists, all of them former members of the SOC, can be accessed here

Online reference books and journals

A great deal of reference material is now available online. Some of this is free to access but often there is a charge for the most recent material. Click here for links to some useful lists of journals and to collections of digitised ornithological books.

Second-hand bookshop

We have hundreds of titles available to browse in the shop at Waterston House. The stock is constantly being refreshed with new donations. Please contact us if there’s something in particular you’re after.

Book and archive donations

The Club is extremely fortunate and grateful to receive donations of high quality natural history books. We welcome donations that enhance the library and archive collection and provide stock for our second-hand bookshop to raise funds for the SOC (titles which duplicate what we have in the library already will be offered for sale). 

You can complete our Book Donation Form and our Archive Entry Form and Archive Transfer of Title Form in advance of your visit. If you are donating a large amount of books or archival material, we may be able to arrange collection; contact us for advice. Please deliver smaller donations to Waterston House. It is also possible to leave a bequest of books to the SOC in your Will. 

We accept donations of:

  • Hardback books relating to all aspects of worldwide ornithology including travel/exploration narratives and art history
  • Archival material that you think would be of interest to the SOC.
  • Artwork by established ornithological artists.

Unfortunately we are not able to accept donations of:

  • Paperback books or multi-part serial publications
  • General glossy ‘coffee table’ books
  • Modern periodicals

If you are in any doubt as to whether the material you would like to donate fits within our collection policy, please contact the librarian for advice. 

Planning your visit

The library is open to all for reference (members of the SOC may borrow items), during Waterston  House opening hours. For access to rarer titles and archives, please contact us in advance so we can ensure someone is available to assist you.

The library is occasionally used for meetings and so not always available for users. Please check with the office before travelling. 

Library services

If you are unable to visit the library, we may be able to post your book or photocopies (conditions and p&p charges apply); please contact us with your request. 

We can provide scans and photocopies: up to one chapter, one article from an issue of a journal or 5% of the publication, whichever is the greater. Charges are:

  • Black and white photocopies: 5p per sheet for the first 20 pages and 10p per sheet thereafter
  • Colour photocopies: 15p per sheet
  • Scans: contact us for a quote

Please complete and return a Copyright Declaration Form with every request. 

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