- Complaints procedure
If something goes wrong or you are not satisfied with our services, please tell us.
Here we describe our complaints procedure and tell you how to make a complaint. We tell you about our complaints service standards and what you can expect from us. You will also find this information in our complaints handling leaflet (PDF) (284 KB; 8 pages).
At the National Library of Scotland we value complaints, and use information from them to help us improve our delivery of high-quality services.
On this page
- What is a complaint?
- What can I complain about?
- What can't I complain about?
- Who can complain?
- How do I complain?
- How long do I have to make a complaint?
What is a complaint?
We regard a complaint as any expression of dissatisfaction about our action or lack of action, or about the standard of service provided by us or on our behalf.
What can I complain about?
You can complain about things like:
- Delays in responding to your enquiries and requests
- Failure to provide a service
- Our standard of service
- Our policy
- Treatment by or attitude of a member of staff
- Our failure to follow proper procedure.
Your complaint may involve more than one service or be about someone working on our behalf.
What can't I complain about?
There are some things we cannot deal with through our complaints handling procedure. These include:
- A routine first-time request for a service
- Requests for compensation
- Things that are covered by a right of appeal.
If other procedures or rights of appeal can help you resolve your concerns, we will give information and advice to help you.
Who can complain?
Anyone can make a complaint to us, including the representative of someone who is dissatisfied with our service. Please also read the section on 'Getting help to make your complaint'.
How do I complain?
You can complain in person at any of our buildings, by phone, in writing, by email, or by using our online complaints form.
It is easier for us to resolve complaints if you make them quickly and directly to the service concerned. So please talk to a member of our staff at the service you are complaining about. Then they can try to resolve any problems on the spot.
When complaining, tell us:
- Your full name and address
- As much as you can about what has gone wrong
- How you want us to resolve the matter.
How long do I have to make a complaint?
Normally, you must make your complaint within six months of:
- The event you want to complain about, or
- Finding out that you have a reason to complain, but no longer than 12 months after the event itself.
In exceptional circumstances, we may be able to accept a complaint after the time limit. If you feel that the time limit should not apply to your complaint, please tell us why.
What happens when I have complained?
We will always tell you who is dealing with your complaint.
Our complaints procedure has two stages:
Stage 1 — frontline resolution
We aim to resolve complaints quickly and close to where we provided the service. This could mean an on-the-spot apology and explanation if something has clearly gone wrong, and immediate action to resolve the problem.
We will give you our decision at Stage 1 in five working days or less, unless there are exceptional circumstances.
If we can't resolve your complaint at this stage, we will explain why and tell you what you can do next. We might suggest that you take your complaint to Stage 2. You may choose to do this immediately or sometime after you get our initial decision.
Stage 2 — investigation
Stage 2 deals with two types of complaint: those that have not been resolved at Stage 1 and those that are complex and require detailed investigation.
When using Stage 2 we will:
- Acknowledge receipt of your complaint within three working days
- Where appropriate, discuss your complaint with you to understand why you remain dissatisfied and what outcome you are looking for
- Give you a full response to the complaint as soon as possible and within 20 working days.
If our investigation will take longer than 20 working days, we will tell you. We will agree revised time limits with you and keep you updated on progress.
What if I am still dissatisfied?
After we have fully investigated, if you are still dissatisfied with our decision or the way we dealt with your complaint, you can ask the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) to look at it.
The Ombudsman cannot normally look at:
- A complaint that has not completed our complaints procedure (so please make sure it has done so before contacting the Ombudsman)
- Events that happened, or that you became aware of, more than a year ago
- A matter that has been or is being considered in court.
Getting help to make your complaint
We understand that you may be unable, or reluctant, to make a complaint yourself. We accept complaints from the representative of a person who is dissatisfied with our service. We can take complaints from a friend, relative, or an advocate, if you have given them your consent to complain for you.
You can find out about advocates in your area by contacting the Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance.
We are committed to making our service easy to use for all members of the community. In line with our statutory equalities duties, we will always ensure that reasonable adjustments are made to help customers access and use our services.
If you have trouble putting your complaint in writing, or want this information in another language or format, such as Braille, tell us in person, contact us (see below).
If you would like more information about our complaints handling procedure, or if you would like the leaflet in another format, please contact:
National Library of Scotland
George IV Bridge
Tel: 0131 623 3700