Video guide 1
The beginnings of the National Library of Scotland can be traced back to the 1680s when it was the private library of the Faculty of Advocates in Edinburgh. The Advocates were the most learned men of the nation and their collection reflected their interests in a wide variety of subjects.
In 1709 the Copyright Act gave the Advocates Library the right to claim a copy of every work published in Great Britain. This turned out to be a mixed blessing with the amount of published material increasing beyond anything the Advocates had planned for.
By the 1920s, the upkeep of the Advocates' collection was too much for a private body so with an endowment of £100,000 — equivalent to about £2 million today — the library's contents were presented to the nation and the National Library of Scotland was formally established by an Act of Parliament in 1925.
Today, the Library holds millions of items in a wide variety of formats, from priceless manuscripts, to archive film footage and electronic journals. It holds collections of national and international importance, preserving unique treasures for future generations.
The Library is Scotland's information portal, a treasure trove of the nation's knowledge history and culture. Access is free for everyone — so whatever you're interested in learning more about, we can help.
The next set of videos will show you how to start finding things in the Library and how to use our services from home or at the Library.
Paul Hambelton, Reference Services: 'People use the Library for all sorts of different reasons. From people who are pursuing very detailed research into out-of-the-way areas — which makes it interesting and challenging to help them, as they know far more about their area of interest than I ever can — to people who are pursuing hobbies or leisure interests.'
Sara Sheridan, Historical novelist: 'I think it's kind of a "lightbulb" place. You know you come in and it's a real hothouse for ideas and you come here and you just have that "ping" moment where you see something and you think that's an amazing idea.'
Jordan Campbell, History student: 'It's an absolutely beautiful setting, lovely location and certainly it's better than any place in Scotland for finding stuff'.
Dr Rania Karoula, University of Edinburgh researcher: 'The staff are friendly, the material that the NLS has accumulated is fantastic and they're accessible to every person, so they should come in and give it a try.'