National Library of Scotland

Contact details

Website: E-mail: (Enquiry Form) Tel: 0131 623 3700

Image of the National Library of Scotland Logo

About the library

The National Library of Scotland is Scotland's biggest library and one of six legal deposit libraries in the UK and Ireland. It holds over 14 million printed items, more than 100,000 manuscripts, around 2 million maps and 25,000 magazine and newspaper titles. Among the digital items are licensed online reference works and journals available free to anyone with an NLS reader's ticket. Specialist collecting areas include:

  • British collections
  • Business collections
  • Foreign collections
  • Manuscript collections
  • Map collections
  • Music collections
  • Newspapers collections
  • Rare Book collections
  • Science and Technology collections
  • Scotland's national moving images collection - the Scottish Screen Archive
  • Official Publications Collections

NLS holds a number of notable major collections, such as the John Murray Archive (literature and publishing) and the Bartholomew Archive (mapmaking and engraving).

Two of the library's buildings in Edinburgh have public access. The George IV Bridge Building has the main reading rooms and the exhibition areas, while the Causewayside Building houses the Map Library.

The local library catalogue is available online.

British Library Interlibrary Loan Codes

  • National Library of Scotland: S2

Accessing materials

Can I see live document availability on Copac? No

Can I obtain items via Inter Library Loan? Most documents included in the NLS catalogue are for reference use within NLS only, but those with the classmark prefix 'LS or ILS' are available for inter-library loan. Many modern books published abroad both in foreign languages and in English are also available for inter-library loan, for reference use only in the requesting library. To see the classmark for a document, select the holding library name towards the end of the Full Record display. This gives the Local Holdings display with all the available local information. At the moment a significant proportion of the loanable stock is not recorded in the NLS main catalogue, so will not be visible on Copac either. However, the lending collection contains items published in Scotland or about Scotland. You have to request an inter-library loan via a library of which you are a member. Talk to your own library staff about whether they think the document you need is likely to be available for loan and for advice on making an inter-library loan request.

Can I visit the library to view materials? Yes - see the NLS web site for access details. Before you visit, it is advisable to reserve items in advance to ensure the material you need will be available.

Can I access materials online? Yes - see the NLS Digital Library for a selection of items digitised from the collections. There are thousands of maps, plus manuscripts, books, photographs, and more.

How do I find primary source material held at this institution? Visit the National Library of Scotland's contributor page at the Archives Hub for information.

Can I order copies of material? Yes, if there are no copyright restrictions. The NLS copying services pages have details of the wide range of services available, including photocopies and digital imaging. You can also email for information.


NLS data on Copac

Example record from the NLS:

Auctarium bibliothecae Edinburgenae, sive Catalogus librorum quos Guilielmus Drummondus ab Hawthornden bibliothecae D. D. Q. Anno. 1627. / [By Edinburgh University Library.]
  Published: Edinburgi : Excudebant hÆredes AndreÆ Hart 1627

You can browse all the titles on Copac starting with the above title.