Access and facilities for people with disabilities
At the National Library of Scotland we are committed to reducing the barriers faced by people with disabilities. We aim to ensure that everyone is treated equally, as far as this is possible.
On this page: George IV Bridge Building
Online you will also find our website accessibility statement.
George IV Bridge Building access and facilities
Our George IV Bridge Building houses the main reading rooms. If you have a disability, we recommend that you contact us before your visit. We can then make sure that the material you want is available, and that we have suitable evacuation procedures in place.
On this page
- Floor guide
- Entering the building
- Readers' Registration
- Getting to the reading rooms
- Issue Hall and Multimedia Room
- General Reading Room
Badge-holders can park on George IV Bridge, except during peak traffic times, which are 07.30 to 09.30 and 16.00 to 18.30. There is also parking for badge-holders at the top of Victoria Street (south side) opposite the Library.
Pavement level: stairs; wheelchair lifts to
Ground floor: Readers' Registration; lockers; unisex accessible toilet; Visitor Centre.
First floor: Security checkpoint; Issue Hall, with Enquiry Desk and Collection and Return Desk; Multimedia Room; General Reading Room; unisex accessible toilet
Second floor: Special Collections Reading Room.
Entering the building
Access from George IV Bridge is level from the pavement, through doors that open automatically. There are lifts (width: 872mm) for wheelchair users on either side of the stairs. Staff can help with operating the lift if needed.
All our staff desks are equipped with hearing induction loops.
At Readers' Registration you can get advice on using the Library. If we can provide what you need, your library card will be issued here.
You cannot take bags larger than A4 size into the reading rooms, but we have lockers you can use. Wheelchair-users can access these lockers. If you need to take a bag or other equipment with you while you work, please explain the circumstances to staff. We will do what is needed to ensure you can work in the Library.
Getting to the reading rooms
Access to the first floor is by the main staircase. A lift (width: 780mm) to the first and second floors is also available, at the end of a short corridor to the left of the foot of the main stair. We can provide access to a wider lift, if needed.
To ensure safe emergency evacuation, we will provide access to special collections material for mobility-impaired visitors and wheelchair users in the General Reading Room on the first floor.
Issue Hall and Multimedia Room
The Issue Hall doors at the top of the main stairs are heavy and have to be kept closed to maintain conditions for the collection material. We can help you with these doors if needed. Please let Information Desk staff know if you would like assistance.
Off the Issue Hall, to the right, is the Multimedia Room. This has:
- Computers that have a large keyboard and screen and a track ball mouse
- Adjustable-height tables
- An Aladdin Rainbow Pro CCTV Reading System
- 'MyReader2' (CCTV/video magnifier) for enlarging text
- Kurzweil, Supernova and JAWS software.
General Reading Room
The reading room doors are heavy and have to be kept closed to maintain conditions for the collection material. We can help you with these doors if needed. Please let Information Desk staff know if you would like assistance.
The General Reading Room has two levels. Many of the tables have power sockets for laptops. Please contact us to check about the suitability of using your own specialist equipment at these locations before coming to the Library.
Kneeling and ergonomic chairs, height adjustable tables, and foot supports are available. We can also provide support cushions, magnifying glasses, and aids for keeping books open. We provide book rests as standard equipment in the reading rooms, and we have two laptop stands.
Please ask at the Enquiry Desk about any of this equipment.
The upper area can only be reached by stairs. To consult open-access books stored upstairs, please ask staff to bring you the books you need if stairs cause you difficulty.
Special Collections Reading Room
The reading room for manuscripts, music, pre-1851 printed material and special collections is accessible by lift only. Facilities include an Aladdin Rainbow Pro CCTV Reading System. More about the Special Collections Reading Room.
To ensure safe emergency evacuation, mobility-impaired visitors and wheelchair users will be provided with access to special collections material within the General Reading Room.
To help you make the most of your study sessions, you can preorder up to six items. However, we can reserve more items for readers with disabilities, if this would be helpful. See our remote ordering details.
Services and facilities
There is a unisex accessible toilet on the ground floor and on the first floor.
We have a wheelchair available for exhibition visitors who are unable to stand for long periods.
There are wheelchair lifts at the entrance which gives access to the ground floor of the Library. Further lift access to the first and second floors of the Library is available, but please refer back to the paragraph on getting to the reading rooms for details of restrictions on access.
- Assistance dogs
You can bring assistance dogs into the building.
- For hearing impaired visitors
There are induction loops fitted at all service counters. Portable induction loops are available at Readers' Registration on the ground floor and in the Issue Hall.
Refreshments / Visitor Centre
You can buy refreshments in the café which is part of the ground-floor Visitor Centre. There is level access to the café, and to the shop and exhibition areas.
Within the locker room there is an area where you can enjoy your own food and drink.
B = Cowgate exit,
C = Staff fire assembly point.
See area on Google maps
- First floor reading rooms: The main evacuation route is from the exit to the stairway at the south side of the General Reading Room.
- Second floor reading room: The main evacuation route is from the north side of the Special Collections Reading Room.
You then go down eight flights of stairs to the Cowgate.
From there, you make your way back up the hill to the front door on George IV Bridge. There are two main routes back from the Cowgate:
- Via Old Fishmarket Close, which is quite a steep climb, and then on to the Royal Mile
- Via Victoria Street, which is a longer route, but not quite so steep.
If you have a medical condition or a disability which would make it difficult to negotiate the stairs or the hill:
- When you first visit us, we will complete a short Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) questionnaire with you
- Your normal evacuation route would be via the fire-protected lift at the south side of the General Reading Room
- If the fire-protected lift is not available, we will help with your evacuation using Evac+Chairs down one flight of stairs at the north side of the General Reading Room and out via the Advocates Library at Parliament Square
- We will then bring you back into the building via the fire-protected lift or the main entrance.
As well as sound, the fire alarms have flashing lights to alert hearing-impaired visitors. Please contact a member of staff if you have visual impairment and would like help in leaving the building.
Contact us for more information
Reference Services staff will be happy to discuss any queries you may have about facilities in the George IV Bridge Building. You'll find contact information on our General Reading Room enquiries page.
Your views on our service
We recognise the importance of getting the views of disabled people in order to develop our service. If you have visited the Library, please take a few minutes to complete this survey and email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. All responses will be entirely confidential. Contact us if you would like us to send you the survey in another format.