Short-term library card

We can issue a short-term card to undergraduate, college and school students who need occasional access to the National Library of Scotland's collections. Please note that the Library is not a lending library. You have to consult our material in the reading rooms or, where available, online.

Using our online registration service, you can pre-register and then complete the process to get your card on your first visit to us. If you prefer, you can register when you arrive at Readers' Registration in the George IV Bridge Building.

You must bring evidence of identity and address with you, and details of the material you would like to consult. Undergraduate and college students should present their matriculation card and bring proof of address.

The decision to issue a card will be at our discretion. It only takes a few minutes to process an application and issue a card.

Undergraduate and college students

Except for access to unique material, we expect the needs of college and ordinary degree level students to be met by their own institutions. Undergraduates and college students may apply for a short-term card to consult material which is not available elsewhere and which they need for specific research projects.

Edinburgh-based undergraduate students who need access to our collections must also submit a 'Request for Admission (Undergraduate Student)' form.

It should be authorised by your university library, and list details of the items to be consulted. Download the Edinburgh undergraduate admission request form (PDF: 1 page; 39 KB) here. It is also available in the George IV Bridge Building and from university libraries. Please note that over the summer, from 1 June until 31 August, you do not need a 'Request for admission' form.

College students and non-Edinburgh-based students do not need to submit this additional form, but should provide clear details of their requirements before we issue a short-term card.

School students

School students should make full use of alternative sources before applying for admission to the National Library.

However, you may apply for a short-term card to consult material which is not available elsewhere and which you need for specific class assignments. If you are unable to provide evidence of identity and proof of address, please speak to a member of staff at Readers' Registration or email us at

School students will only be allowed access to consult specific items which are essential to their course of study and which they cannot obtain elsewhere.

Renewing your card

If you have a short-term library card and you want to extend your registration, you must submit a new application. Edinburgh-based students must also submit a new 'Request for Admission (Undergraduate Student)' form.

This will be subject to the same checks as your initial registration request. You will need to bring proof of identity and address to Readers' Registration.

Lost cards

If you lose your short-term card, we will charge you £5.30 for a replacement. We do not charge if your card has been stolen or if you change your name.

If your card is stolen, you should report the theft to the police and then provide us with a police report form.

Change of address

If you have a library card, you must tell us of any change of address and provide proof of this change — for example, a recent utilities bill.

Your existing card will remain valid, but we will amend our records to show your new address.


Library cards main page

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