Questions we are asked most often by researchers in George IV Bridge Building:

  1. Can I borrow books?
  2. What can I take into the reading room?
  3. Can I use my laptop computer?
  4. How do I get to the reading rooms?
  5. Can anyone help me with my enquiry?
  6. How do I request items?
  7. How long will I have to wait for items I have requested?
  8. Can I make photocopies?

1. Can I borrow books?

Items in the National Library of Scotland are for reference only. You cannot take them out of the reading rooms.

2. What can I take into the reading rooms?

You can take writing materials, paper and books. Bags bigger than A4 size and other items (such as food, drink and highlighter pens) must be left in lockers at the foot of the main staircase. For more details, see:

You need a £1 coin for a locker. There is a change machine beside the lockers. We sell locker tokens for £1 at Reader Registration.

3. Can I use my laptop computer?

You can use your laptop computer in designated areas in the reading rooms.

4. How do I get to the reading rooms?

Take the main staircase or lift up to the Issue Hall and reading rooms. Show your library card at the security turnstile.

Please keep your ticket with you at all times. You will be asked to show it each time you enter the Library and at the Issue Desk.

5. Can anyone help me with my enquiry?

Staff at the Enquiry Desk will be able to help. The Enquiry Desk is on the right when you enter the Issue Hall. There is a small selection of reference material on open shelves in the reading rooms, but we will have to fetch most items for you from storage areas.

You will need to search the catalogues to find the details for the items you require — author, title, date of publication, and shelfmark. You can access the online catalogues in the Multimedia Room, beyond the Enquiry Desk.

6. How do I request items?

You can order most material direct through the main catalogue using the online book request system. Full details are in the online book request system guide.

You need to fill in an application slip for:

  • Periodicals, newspapers and magazines
  • Law books
  • Material published before 1800.

Hand in your form at the Issue Desk.

Seats in the General Reading Room are all numbered. Note your seat number in the comment box when you order material. Seats downstairs have numbers on the back of the seats. Upstairs the numbers are on the side of the chair frame. If you do not note a seat number, we will reserve items for you at the Issue Desk, for six working days.

7. How long will I have to wait for items I have requested?

The time taken to fetch items depends on where they are stored. Storage details are included in the catalogue record for each item. It can take up to two hours for material to be delivered if it is not at George IV Bridge.

If you order something after 17.00 which is not stored in George IV Bridge, we cannot deliver it until the next day. There are no deliveries from the Advocates Library on a Saturday.

8. Can I make photocopies?

We have self-service copying facilities for some material consulted in the General Reading Room. You can photocopy an item which:

  • Was published after 1851
  • Has individual pages A4 size or smaller and which is not too heavy.

Please take any material you wish to copy to the Enquiry Desk for conservation clearance. More about self-service photocopying.

We have a staffed copying service for material which cannot be copied on the self-service machines. Please ask at the Enquiry Desk. More about copying services.


Guide for researchers