John Small (1828-1886)

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Librarian of the University of Edinburgh

Small was the son of an Under-Librarian of the College of Edinburgh, also called John Small. The Library has a double portrait painted by William Dyce when the younger John Small was only a child, apart from this, the only known likeness is an engraving by William Hole. John the younger was educated at The Edinburgh Academy and at the College, from which he graduated MA in 1847. His father died in post that same year, and his son succeeded him as Under-Librarian, eventually obtaining the full status of College Librarian in 1854.

The first professional Librarian of the University in the modern sense of not already holding an academic post in the University, he continued as Librarian until his own death in 1886. He held other honorary professional posts, acted as Assistant Clerk to the Senatus Academicus, was President of the Library Association in 1880, and a notable and esteemed editor of a range of historical works.

In 1924 his daughter Jessie Small bequeathed £5,000 to the Library for investment in her father's memory. The fund continues to provide annual income for the purchase of books and for general Library purposes.

All or some of the text on this page originally appeared in the Gallery of Benefactors