We have 34 million print and digital items in our collections, which grows by 5,000 items a week.
To save space, books are arranged by size and year published in floor-to-ceiling stacks that fill 10 floors at our George IV Bridge building. The rest of our vast physical collections are stored in 150 miles of shelving across four different sites.
Our expanding digital collections are held in two datacentres in Edinburgh and Glasgow and in the Cloud.
In the collections
Our physical and digital collections include:
- Sheet music
- Musical recordings
- Authors' and publishers' archives
- Rare books
- Audio-visual and sound recordings at the Moving Image Archive.
Some of our physical collections have been digitised and made available online. We also have eResources, which include digitised items like books, newspapers and journal articles, business resources and databases.
Accessing the collections
In Edinburgh, you can access physical and digital collection items at our main public building, George IV Bridge and at the Maps Reading Room at our Causewayside building. You will need to join the Library to visit our reading rooms in Edinburgh.
A limited physical collection is available at our Moving Image Archive at Kelvin Hall in Glasgow. You can watch films online through the Moving Image Archive catalogue, although some are only available to view onsite. At Kelvin Hall, you can visit us and access many of our online resources without joining the Library.
How we collect
Our predecessor, the Advocates Library, began collecting everything published in the UK and Ireland in 1710. Today, as a legal deposit library, we have the legal right to claim a copy of everything published under copyright in the UK and Ireland. Legal deposit legislation covers physical publications and electronic material, including archived UK domain websites.
We sometimes buy material that is not covered by the legal deposit legislation. We also subscribe to online content from publishers which we can make available to Library members.
To find out more about how we collect, see our Collection Development Policy.