Freedom of Information
The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 requires the National Library of Scotland to produce and maintain a publication scheme. We have chosen to adopt the Scottish Information Commissioner's Model Publication Scheme.
What follows is a guide to our information about who we are, what we do, and how we do it. We will tell you about:
- Availability and formats
- Exempt information
- Who to contact about access to information
- The classes of information (with links to what is available online)
Availability and formats
Here you can find information about the National Library of Scotland that we make available on our website without request. We offer alternative arrangements for people who do not want to, or cannot, access the information online. For example, we can usually arrange to send information to you in paper copy, although there may be a photocopying and postage charge for this. (See 'Charges' paragraphs'.)
You can make a request online for access to any information that we have on record that isn't in our publication scheme under the terms of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.
If you prefer, you can write to:
Intellectual Property Officer
National Library of Scotland
George IV Bridge
We will publish the information we hold that falls within the classes of information below. If a document contains information that is exempt under Scotland's freedom of information laws (for example where personal data is involved), we will remove or 'black out' the information before publication and explain why.
Requests for information from our collections
Sometimes people make FOI requests for access to information in books and other items in our collections. These requests are nearly always exempt under section 25 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act, because this information is already in the public domain.
If your request is for information from our collections rather than for information about the Library as an organisation, our 'Ask a Librarian' online enquiry service might be a better place to start.
Because of our role as a library, it is important to note that copyright applies to two different kinds of information in a different way:
- Our own corporate information — that is, information that we produce about our business or in the course of our business
- Material in our collections (books, manuscripts, maps and so on).
Library corporate information
Without formal permission you can copy or reproduce Library corporate information — reports, statistics, policies and procedures, corporate correspondence, and so on — where we hold the copyright, provided that:
- It is copied or reproduced accurately
- It is not used in a misleading context, and
- The source of the material is identified.
Material in our collections
Copyright restrictions are likely to apply to material in our collections. Our website has information about:
With the exception of our commercial publications in class 8, all of the information in our publication scheme is free and is usually available online. Hard copies of the information can also be provided on request to the Intellectual Property Officer (contact details below).
You do not have to pay for:
- Any information downloaded from our website
- A single copy of any corporate document
- Information sent in electronic format as an email attachment
- Copies of any corporate publications which are already printed and available for free.
You may have to pay for:
- Printing or photocopying costs of 10p per page (unless your request is for fewer than 50 pages or if it is a single document)
- Information provided on CD-ROM (which will be charged at 50p per computer disc)
- Postage or other delivery (Royal Mail first class).
You will have to pay for:
- Any commercial publications falling under class 8 of this scheme
- Reprographic costs for items from our national collections.
We will always tell you what the cost is before providing the information to you.
If you are dissatisfied with the accessibility of information in the Publication Scheme, or in the way in which we have dealt with a request for information, you may raise the matter with us. Please contact:
Intellectual Property Officer
National Library of Scotland
George IV Bridge
If we are unable to resolve your complaint, you have the right to complain to the Scottish Information Commissioner.
Classes of information
The information in our publication scheme is grouped into eight classes, which are as follows:
- Class 1: About the Library
- Class 2: How we deliver our functions and services
- Class 3: How the Library takes decisions and what we have decided
- Class 4: What the Library spends and how we spend it
- Class 5: How we manage our human, physical and information resources
- Class 6: How the Library procures goods and services from external providers
- Class 7: How the Library is performing
- Class 8: Our commercial publications
Although we hope that the classes of information below will help you find the information that you want quickly, we know that there are always other ways to classify information (we are librarians after all). On our website you will also find:
- Site map, showing the site's main sections and subsections
- A to Z subject list covering some of the topics on our web pages
Class 1: About the Library
General information about the Library
The National Library of Scotland is the successor to the historic library of the Faculty of Advocates, which opened off Edinburgh's Royal Mile in 1689. Today the Library is Scotland's foremost general research library and the world's leading repository for the printed and manuscript record of Scotland's history and culture.
We are the legal deposit library for Scotland, entitled to request a copy of all UK and Irish publications. Approximately 6,000 items a week reach us this way.
Three centuries after its foundation, the Library now holds 15 million printed books, seven million manuscripts items, almost two million maps, and 100,000 journal, magazine and newspaper titles.
Our principal address is:
National Library of Scotland
George IV Bridge
Further general information about the Library:
Governance, legislation and legal status
The Library was established in 1925 by the National Library of Scotland Act 1925 (PDF) (103 KB; 8 pages). The governance of the Library was amended by the National Heritage (Scotland) Act 1985 (PDF) (77.4 KB; 6 pages). The Scottish Government passed the National Library of Scotland Act 2012 which further amended the governance of the Library.
We are governed by a Board, and managed by senior managers under the leadership of the National Librarian and Chief Executive, Dr John Scally.
- List of Board members
- Board Register of Interests (PDF) (26 KB; 42 pages)
- Code of Conduct (PDF) (100 KB; 19 pages)
- Scheme of Delegation (PDF) (51 KB; 6 pages)
- Meetings minutes (from 2011)
We are a non-departmental public body, funded by the Scottish Government, reporting to the Minister of Culture and External Affairs.
We are also a Registered Scottish Charity (Scottish Charity No. SC011086).
We benefit greatly from our status as a legal deposit library, and have done since the library of the Faculty of Advocates was given this status in 1710. This status is currently conferred on us by the Legal Deposit Libraries Act, which was amended to reflect the increase in non-print publishing output.
Key corporate documents
- Mission statement
- Strategy 2015-2020('The way forward')(PDF) (1 MB; 12 pages)
- Library Plan 2016-2017 (PDF) (718 KB; 26 pages)
- Annual Review 2013-2014
- Annual Report and Accounts (2013-2014) (PDF) (2.4 MB; 48 pages)
The National Library of Scotland works especially closely with the other copyright libraries covered by the legal deposit legislation, specifically:
- The British Library
- The Bodleian Libraries of the University of Oxford
- Cambridge University Library
- The Library of Trinity College, Dublin
- National Library of Wales
In 2009 the Agency for Legal Deposit Libraries (ALDL) became a wholly owned subsidiary of the National Library of Scotland. The agency is jointly funded by the legal deposit libraries. It operates from the National Library of Scotland's Causewayside building.
We collaborate with other nationwide and local library organisations, and also work closely with other collecting organisations in Scotland, principally:
- The National Records of Scotland
- The National Galleries of Scotland
- The National Museums Scotland
- The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
- The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Scotland.
You can read further information on our collaborative partnerships:
- Nationwide library collaboration
- Local and regional library networks
- NEWSPLAN Scotland
- Rare Books in Scotland
- Scottish Maps Forum
As a charitable organisation, we conduct fundraising activities to help to develop our collections and services. You can read online about our fundraising activities and how you can support the Library.
Keeping others informed
There are a number of other ways that you can find out about what we are currently doing:
Class 2: How we deliver our functions and services
The Library collects, preserves, and makes available millions of items to customers in Scotland and across the globe, both in our buildings and on our website. To reflect the changing nature of publishing and to ensure that our collections continue to be relevant to contemporary audiences and future generations, in 2008 the Library developed an Integrated Collecting Strategy (PDF) (122 KB; 26 pages).
Mainly because of the physical scale of our collections and the way we store them, but also for reasons of security and preservation, customers are unable to browse our miles and miles of shelves. Instead, customers can search our catalogues online or in person at the Library. Many of our digital collections can also be accessed on our website.
One of our key functions is to preserve our collections for future generations.
Everyone is welcome to use the National Library of Scotland. You can register to become a reader either online or in person at our George IV Bridge Building in Edinburgh. Use of our reading rooms and collections is governed by our terms and conditions.
For more information about our collections and services, see:
The Library is committed to widening the diversity of those who work here and those who use our collections and services. The Equality Act 2010 and the related Public Sector Equality Duties require us to publish four documents in particular. These documents allow people to see what we have been doing and what we plan to do to deliver equality and encourage diversity and good relations between people and communities:
- Progress report on mainstreaming the equality duty (PDF) (639 KB; 14 pages)
- NLS Equality outcomes 2013-2017 (PDF) (607 KB; 12 pages)
- Equal pay (gender) audit (PDF) (312 KB; 32 pages)
- Statement on equal pay and occupational segregation (PDF) (86 KB; 3 pages)
Although you are free to explore our collections for yourselves, you can also contact our collection specialists if you need help by using the 'Ask a Librarian' service, or by contacting a particular department.
We have put together some guides on our website for groups of people who may have a particular relationship with the Library, or who may benefit from further information. There are guides for:
Visit the 'Using the Library' pages for further information
Class 3: How the Library takes decisions and what we have decided
The Library is governed by a Board, and managed by the National Librarian and Chief Executive, Dr John Scally. Strategic decisions are made in line with the Library's strategy, 'The way forward', and the Library Plan. Strategic decisions are recorded in the minutes of the Library Leadership Team.
- Strategy 2015-2020 ('The way forward') (PDF) (144 KB; 10 pages)
- Library Plan 2016-2017 (PDF) (718 KB; 26 pages)
- Corporate Plan 2012-2015 (PDF) (137 KB; 27 pages)
Class 4: What the Library spends and how we spend it
Our annual report and accounts give a detailed breakdown on the funding that we receive and the things that we spend it on.
Under the terms of recent legislation (the Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act), the Library now also publishes the following information on the following areas of expenditure:
- Public relations activities
- Overseas travel
- External consultancy
- Transactions over £25,000
- Government procurement card transactions over £500.
You can read details of our expenditure in these areas and information about the steps that we have taken to improve efficiency and effectiveness in the expenditure disclosure documents:
- 2014-2015 expenditure disclosures document (PDF) (52 KB; 5 pages)
- 2013-2014 expenditure disclosures document (PDF) (31 KB; 5 pages)
- 2012-2013 expenditure disclosures document (PDF) (28 KB; 4 pages)
- 2011-2012 expenditure disclosures document (PDF) (38 KB; 5 pages)
- 2010-2011 expenditure disclosures document (PDF) (35 KB; 4 pages).
We manage our finances and budgets in accordance with the following policies and supporting documentation:
- Budget holder's handbook
- Business Travel and Expenses Policy
- Fraud Prevention Policy (PDF) (47KB; 2 pages)
- Gifts, Fees, Hospitality, Bribery and Corruption Policy (PDF) (54 KB: 4 pages)
Class 5: How the Library manages its human, physical and information resources
We have the following policies in place:
- Annual Leave Policy
- Attendance Management Policy
- Bullying and Harassment Policy
- Career Breaks Policy
- Code of Conduct
- Discipline and Grievance Policy
- Equality Policy
- Family Friendly Leave Policy
- Induction and Probation Policy
- Learning and Development Policy
- Performance Management Policy
- Recruitment Policy
- Redeployment Policy and Procedure
- Volunteers Policy
- Whistleblowing Policy
The Library has eight buildings in total. Five are occupied by staff, and the other three are used for storage. We have four buildings in central Edinburgh, two buildings at Sighthill on the outskirts of Edinburgh, one building at Hillington, and one at Kirkintilloch. We manage our estate in accordance with our Property Asset Management Plan.
In 2010 the Library made a commitment to reduce its carbon footprint by 30% over five years and produced a Carbon Management Plan (PDF) (670 KB; 58 pages). After our second year we have made a reduction of 28%.
You can read a report on recent progress we have made:
- 2011-2012 Public Sector Sustainability Report report (PDF) (332 KB; 16 pages)
Health and Safety at the Library is managed in accordance with three policies:
- Health and Safety Policy (PDF) (146 KB; 17 pages)
- Fire Safety Policy (PDF) (252 KB; 36 pages)
- Asbestos Management Policy
In addition to our collections, we also hold corporate information about our business, our staff, and our customers. We manage these information resources in accordance with:
- Data Protection Policy (PDF) (469 KB; 35 pages)
- IT Security Policy (PDF) (94 KB; 25 pages)
- Retention schedules
Class 6: How the Library procures goods and services from external providers
As a public funded body, the National Library of Scotland has to procure its goods, services and construction-related activities sustainably, ethically, fairly and transparently in line with European Union and Scottish Government Guidance.
Our procurement procedures and policies are available online.
Class 7: How the Library is performing
On our website we publish both our annual report and accounts (which gives a statistical breakdown of our funding, spending, and statutory compliance), and an annual review, which looks at the performance and development of our services more generally.
Quarterly performance reports (KPI reports) are available online:
- 2015-2016 Q3 performance report (PDF) (146 KB; 8 pages)
- 2015-2016 Q2 performance report (PDF) (100 KB; 6 pages)
- 2015-2016 Q1 performance report (PDF) (358
KB; 7 pages)
— Includes annual figures for 2014-2015.
- 2013-2014 Q4 Key Performance Indicators report (PDF) (552 KB; 14 pages)
- 2013-2014 Q3 Key Performance Indicators report (PDF) (498 KB; 18 pages)
- 2013-2014 Q2 Key Performance Indicators report (PDF) (557 KB; 18 pages)
- 2013-2014 Q1 Key Performance Indicators report (PDF) (889 KB; 18 pages)
- 2012-2013 Q4 Key Performance Indicators report (PDF) (754 KB; 19 pages)
- 2012-2013 Q3 Key Performance Indicators report (PDF) (874 KB; 18 pages)
- 2012-2013 Q2 Key Performance Indicators report (PDF) (1.7 MB; 18 pages)
- 2012-2013 Q1 Key Performance Indicators report (PDF) (168 KB; 17 pages)
Class 8: Our commercial publications
In recent years we have published several books about Library collections and history, and occasionally we collaborate with other publishers.