James Hogg's copy of 'Psalms of David in metre' (1825)

Superlative Books

From time to time, the Library is asked ‘which book in your collection has been borrowed the most?’ or ‘what is your oldest book?’. We thought you might be interested to learn about this, as well as some of our other ‘superlative’ books.

What is our oldest book?

The oldest intact book in Stirling University Library is Boccaccio’s Genealogiae (1511): https://librarysearch.stir.ac.uk/permalink/44UST_INST/u3gtvk/alma991002153769706861

We have a few fragments of books from the late 15th century, but they are just single leaves – you couldn’t really describe them as books!

What is the largest book?

This is probably Moelwyn Merchant’s, Poster-poems (1980?) which is an impressive 83 cm long: https://librarysearch.stir.ac.uk/permalink/44UST_INST/1t33jmq/alma991002671119706861.

And the smallest?

James Hogg’s personal copy of The Psalms of David in metre (1825) is a very handy 10 cm long – perfect for carrying in his pocket.


The Library owns many other books and manuscripts relating to James Hogg (1770-1835), also known as the Ettrick Shepherd.

What is the longest book title?

It’s a bit tricky to give a definitive answer here, but the following comes in at 61 words (399 characters):

Tou theiou Platonos ‘apanta ta sozomena. Diuini Platonis opera omnia quae exstant. Marsilio Ficino interprete … Argumentis perpetuis, & commentarijs quibusdam eiusdem Marsilij Ficini, ijsque nunc multo emendatius quam antehac editis, totum opus explanatum est atque illustratum … Vita Platonis a Diogene Laertio copiosissime descripta : item pereruditum Timaei Locri opusculum … huic editioni accesserunt. Adiectus est index rerum omnium locupletissimus (1590)


It’s Plato’s collected works in Greek and Latin. If you find a longer title in our collections, let us know!

Which book has been borrowed the most?

It’s now a little more tricky to answer this question, as we recently moved to a new library system. However, I can reveal that the book which has been borrowed the most in the last year is Political ideologies: a reader and guide (eds. Matthew Festenstein and Michael Kenny), 2005. This has been borrowed 52 times since May 2021, and 802 times since we first acquired it.


What is the best book?

Impossible to say! What do you think? Suggestions welcome!