The collection is based on the library built up by William Robert Reid (1854-1919), an Edinburgh businessman who had acquired Lauriston Castle in 1903, and consists of approximately 11,000 items in over 3,700 volumes. Reid had been assisted in his book collecting by a family friend, John A. Fairley, author of several articles on the bibliography of chapbooks. In the course of his researches Fairley had formed a collection of chapbooks (c. 500 volumes comprising c. 5,500 items) and these were purchased by the Reid Trustees and incorporated into the bequest of Mr and Mrs Reid, received by the newly established National Library in 1926. This bequest included the Reid Fund, consisting of income from the estate of Mr and Mrs Reid, which has subsequently enabled the Library to acquire major items of national heritage. The emphasis of the books and pamphlets in the collection is on the history, literature and topography of Scotland, from the 17th to the 19th century, but with much material on Scottish religious and political controversies in the 17th century, and on the country?s economic and social development during the late 17th and the 18th century. There are strong holdings relating to the Scottish-born financier John Law (1671-1729) whose family lived at Lauriston. There is also a notable group of architectural books produced by Scots, including works by Robert and William Adam and James Gibbs, and a number of French works, including a first edition of Laclos? Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1782). Bequeathed along with the library of printed books was a collection of manuscript material, chiefly of Scottish interest, the largest part being devoted to correspondence and papers relating to the history of the family of Mackenzie of Delvine. L.C. Folios 180 and 181 contain 48 important early sheet maps, which are held in the Map Library.
Catalogue of the Lauriston Castle Chapbooks, Boston, 1964. The manuscripts are described and indexed in Vol. I of the Library?s Catalogue of Manuscripts. J.A. Fairley, ?Bibliography of the Chap-books attributed to Dougal Graham?, Records of the Glasgow Bibliographical Society, 1 (1914), 125-215. ----, ?Bibliography of Robert Fergusson?, Records of the Glasgow Bibliographical Society, 3 (1915), 115-55. ----, ?Peter Buchan, Printer and Ballad Collector, with a Bibliography?, Transactions of the Buchan Field Club, 7 (1904), 123-158. ----, ?Ancient Scottish Tales - an Unpublished Collection Made by Peter Buchan?, Transactions of the Buchan Field Club, 9 (1909), 128-94. ----, ?Chap-books and Aberdeen Chap-books?, Aberdeen Book-Lover, 2 (1916), 29-34. E.B. Lyle, ?Song Chap-books with Irish imprints in the Lauriston Castle collection, National Library of Scotland?, Irish Folk Music Studies, 2 (1975), 15-30.