What we are
Useful facts about the National Library of Scotland.
In this section
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.