A brief history of the James Herriot Library

James Herriot Library PlaqueJames Herriot PortraitThe Glasgow Veterinary College was founded by James McCall in 1862, becoming part of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Glasgow in 1949 and the newly formed School of Veterinary Medicine in 2010.

Arguably one of the most famous alumni of the School is Mr James Alfred Wight, better known as author James Herriot, who graduated in 1939 and went on to write about his experiences as a Yorkshire vet in a series of best selling books, beginning with ‘If only they could talk’ in 1969 and the omnibus ‘All creatures great and small’ in 1970.

In his book ‘The real James Herriot : the authorized biography‘, his son Jim Wight recalls that in 1995, the Dean of the University of Glasgow Veterinary School proposed naming the new library after James Herriot in recognition of his services to the profession and the Veterinary School’s pride in his achievements as a graduate of Glasgow1. Mr Herriot’s response was typically humble:

‘I regard this as the greatest honour to have ever been bestowed upon me2.’

In recalling his father’s reaction, Jim Wight goes on to state that:

‘He had many tributes paid to him throughout a distinguished veterinary and literary career, but his response to this final appreciation revealed an undiminished affection for the city in which he spent the formative years of his life3.’

James Herriot LIbraryJames Herriot Library - Self IssueThe James Herriot Library was officially opened by his son on the 24th of February 1995, just one day following James Herriot’s passing. Situated on the second floor of the Mary Stewart Building, the library has approximately 130 study spaces, over 3,000 books and nearly 3,000 print journals, many of which are also available online.

Staffed library services are provided between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday, by a dedicated team  who are always ready and willing to answer all questions great and small! The library is open between 7.15am and 2am, Monday to Friday, and between 8am and 2am on the weekends and during vacation.

There are 10 PCs, a self-issue machine for borrowing books, and a black and white MFD for printing, copying and scanning. Print credits can be purchased at the enquiry desk and a dedicated QuickSearch PC allows users to quickly find books and resources in the library.

James Herriot Library Surgical Instruments DisplayThe library features a dedicated bookcase that holds several biographies of James Herriot and many of his own works. For those interested in the development of veterinary practice, the library also has on display a collection of James Herriot’s surgical instruments, which have been kindly loaned to the library by Jim Wight from the James Herriot Museum in Thirsk.


  1. Wight, Jim., 1999. The real James Herriot : the authorized biography. London: Michael Joseph Ltd. p. 351.
  2. Ibid., p. 352.
  3. Ibid.

Categories: Library

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