- Group tours
Arranging a group visit to the Library
George IV Bridge Building.
We can offer tours and visits for:
- Community groups
- Adult learners
- Students in Higher and Further education
- School pupils who are studying at Advanced Higher level
- Librarians and trainee librarians.
These tours are free of charge, unless they are being organised by a commercial tour or travel company.
Types of tours
Behind-the-scenes tours of the Library include a visit to the reading rooms and book stacks (where we store the books), and we can also provide information about:
- Exhibitions and events
- How to use the Library
- How to access the collections.
We also offer exhibition tours which are usually led by the exhibition curator or members of the Access and Outreach team. Please go to our events page for more details of tours relating to exhibitions and displays.
We can tailor the visit to your needs and interests. If you are researching a particular topic, it might be possible to show related items from the collection as part of the visit. Please note that this option is dependent on staff and room availability.
How to book a group visit
For more information about general group visits, please contact:
- Beverley Casebow, Education and Outreach Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0131 623 3745, or
- Veronica Denholm, Access and Outreach Officer, at email@example.com or 0131 623 3746.
What to tell us
It would be useful if you could provide the following information:
- Suggested dates and times of visit
- Estimated number of people in the group
- Reason for wanting to visit the Library and any areas of special interest
- If anyone in your group has mobility problems or special needs.
You should contact us at least six weeks before you wish to book a tour or visit. This will help us to customise the visit to meet your needs, and to ensure that enough staff are available to help on the day.
Please note: We will do our best to meet requests for tours on on the day required, but due to high demand we cannot always guarantee availability and may have to make arrangements for a later date.
non-public area of the George IV Bridge
All tours and visits for community groups, adult learners, and students are offered free of charge, although any donations are gratefully received.
We welcome commercial visits and travel company tours of the Library and will be happy to provide information about our charges on request.
Maximum size of group
We can accommodate a maximum of 10 people on each tour. If you would like to bring a larger group to the Library, it might be possible to divide the group and to offer two different activities or to stagger the start times of the tour. Please email Beverley Casebow or email Veronica Denholm to discuss options.
Behind-the-scenes tours of the Library normally last between 30-40 minutes.
Exhibition tours usually last between 40-60 minutes.
Preparing for your visit
If you have requested a behind-the-scenes tour of the Library, you will be asked to leave any coats, umbrellas, and large bags in a locker in the main entrance hall. You will be able to take handbags and valuables with you during the visit. You will need a £1 coin to operate the locker.
If you would like to make notes during the tour, please remember to bring a pencil. Pens are not allowed in the reading rooms. Any food and drink must be left in a locker and cannot be taken into the reading rooms or staff areas of the Library.
If you would like to register to become a reader during the visit, please remember to bring some form of ID with you on the day.
You can also start the registration process before you visit by filling in the registration form online.
Arranging a speaker
If your group is not able to visit the Library, we may be able to arrange for a member of staff to travel to your venue to give a talk.
When you are contacting us, it would be useful to know whether you would like a general talk about the National Library of Scotland, or whether you are interested in specific topics relating to our collections.
We also run a programme of outreach activities across Scotland throughout the year. Please email Veronica Denholm for more information.
Tours and events for people who are hard of hearing or visually impaired
We offer regular audio described exhibition tours throughout the year for visitors who are blind or visually impaired, and we are happy to tailor a visit for your group.
We can also offer tours and visits for people who are hard of hearing. A portable loop is available.
We offer a regular programme of free workshops for people who are interested in finding out more about the Library. These include:
- Getting started at NLS
- Introduction to manuscripts
- Discovering family history
- Conservation at the library
- Beyond Google
- Introduction to maps at NLS
- Maps for local and family history
- Read all about it: an introduction to online newspaper resources
Depending on staff and room availability, we may be able to offer a group booking for these sessions and to adapt the content to suit your needs. Please contact us at least six weeks in advance if you wish to discuss this option.