What we are

Useful facts about the National Library of Scotland.


What we are

  • One of Europe's major research libraries, with around 15 million printed items in our collections
  • Scotland's legal deposit library
  • A reference library — we do not lend our items, although copies of some books are available through Scottish local libraries.

Forward arrow Mission statement


What we can offer you

  • Collections of international importance, covering all subjects
  • Books, manuscripts, maps, music (print and recordings), photographs, posters, postcards, newspapers, magazines, electronic journals, CD-ROMS — and more!
  • Online catalogues, with details of millions of items that are on our shelves
  • An online enquiry service to help you find what you need.
  • Digitised material, including thousands of maps
  • Copies of most of the items in our collections
  • Experienced enquiry staff and dedicated specialists
  • Tours, visits, speakers, exhibitions and events
  • 'Discover NLS', our free magazine
  • Resources for learners of all ages in our Learning zone.

Forward arrow More about our collections


Who can use NLS

  • At the Library — anyone can consult our collections and use our services
  • Online — anyone with a computer with an internet connection can access the material on our website. With a library card, you can also use a wide range of licensed digital resources.

Forward arrow More about using the Library


How NLS is run

  • Governed by a board which meets throughout year
  • Managed by two deputies under the guidance of the National Librarian and Chief Executive
  • Answerable to the Scottish Parliament since devolution in 1999
  • A non-departmental public body (NDPB) with direct funding from the Scottish Government
  • Registered as a Scottish charity. Scottish charity number: SC011086.

Forward arrow More about the National Library's Board

Forward arrow The Library's strategy

Forward arrow Salaries of senior Library staff

Forward arrow Annual review and accounts

Forward arrow Memorandum of agreement between the Library and Faculty of Advocates (2011)


NLS history

  • Established by the National Library of Scotland Act in 1925. The National Library of Scotland Act 2012 confirmed the Library's function and modernised the Library's Board
  • Collections which had been gifted to the nation were transferred then to NLS from the Advocates Library, founded in the early 1680s
  • Main building on George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, was opened by the Queen on 4 July 1956
  • The Causewayside Building opened in two phases in 1989 and in 1995.

Forward arrow More on the Library's history

Forward arrow The first reader's ticket

Forward arrow More about the National Library of Scotland Act 2012


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