A guide for Library members
Anyone who has joined the National Library of Scotland has access on our premises to millions of UK and Irish publications.
This material arrives at the Library as a result of legal deposit legislation. As well as printed items, it includes electronic material and archived UK domain websites.
What is available
As a legal deposit library, the National Library of Scotland has the right to claim a copy of everything published in the UK and Ireland under the terms of the Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003. Since 2013, this right has been extended by the Legal Deposit Libraries (Non-Print) Regulations 2013 to allow us to collect electronic publications and to harvest content from the worldwide web.
Along with printed material such as books, newspapers and journals, we collect a mixture of electronic content. This includes e-books and journal articles, as well as archived websites from the UK domain web archive — all '.uk', plus '.scot' and some '.com', etc.
Social media content, such as from Twitter and Facebook, is part of the 2013 regulations, and therefore legal deposit libraries can collect this content.
Not included by the 2013 regulations are:
- Private messages in Twitter and Facebook
- The content of pure video streaming sites, such as YouTube
Access to legal deposit material
Members of the National Library have access to legal deposit material on our premises. You cannot borrow printed material or access the electronic material via your own laptop on Library premises or from home.
Printed and electronic material is available in our Edinburgh reading rooms. You can also consult electronic legal deposit material at Kelvin Hall in Glasgow.
You can search for legal deposit material via Library Search and by choosing to search 'Library collections' rather than 'Everything'. To search for electronic publications only, set the filter to ‘Full text online’ which will give access to electronic legal deposit material.
There is no limit to the number of electronic items that you can access in a day. Information on accessing printed items and delivery times is available on our reading room pages.
Restrictions on access
Only one person at a time can view an electronic item, and there is no time limit set (within a day) for how long you can consult an item. Electronic publications are not made available until at least seven days after they have been deposited with the Library.
Access to archived websites
Archived websites are available via the UK Web Archive portal on the Library’s premises via our public access computers. Where a website owner has granted permission, access will also be available on your own laptop or from your home, work or place of study.
Sites are archived on an annual basis, with access available around 12 months after harvesting.
Copying legal deposit material
You can make copies of printed material within the bounds of copyright legislation. You can also print from electronic material.
Anyone viewing an electronic item needs to accept the terms and conditions governing use of the material, which includes copyright regulations in relation to printing. We monitor printing to ensure there are no contraventions of the copyright regulations.
Enquiry staff in the reading rooms can advise you on copying and printing limits.
Downloading and photographing
Legal deposit regulations do not permit downloading or the use of cameras (including camera phones) to make copies from electronic legal deposit material.
You can ask enquiry staff in the reading rooms if you need more information.