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For manuscripts, you should first consult the relevant catalogue in the reading room to identify the material you wish to read. You must then complete the online manuscript order form, which is available on the public computers in the Special Collections Reading Room. Separate requests should be placed for each manuscript you require.
A small number of our manuscript collections have restricted access. These require prior notice and, in some cases, permission to view. If you are in doubt about access to a collection, please email firstname.lastname@example.org at least two working days in advance of your visit. You may also like to refer to our list of manuscript curators which details their areas of curatorial responsibility.
Delivery of manuscripts
Normally, you may order up to six manuscript items at a time.
Manuscripts are delivered to the reading room at these times:
- 10.00 (first delivery is 11.00 on Wednesdays)
- At hourly intervals after that until 16.00.
Please note that no manuscripts will be fetched on a Saturday after the 11.15 delivery.
Reserved manuscripts will be available on request within a few minutes of your arrival at the Special Collections Reading Room.
Requests for new orders must be made at least 15 minutes before the hour to ensure arrival with the next delivery. Applications for manuscripts for consultation on the same day must be submitted in time for the delivery at 16.00.
Rare books and music
For printed items, you should consult the relevant catalogue to identify the required item, and then place an online request via the main catalogue.
Delivery of rare books and music
Normally, you may order up to eight items at one time on the online book request system, but you can keep only a maximum of six items on reserve.
Printed material you have not reserved is delivered at set times.
Rare books and music held in George IV Bridge
Material held in George IV Bridge must be ordered at least 20 minutes before these delivery times:
Please note that there is no 13.45 delivery.
Please note that no rare books / music material will be fetched on a Saturday after the 11.45 delivery.
Rare books and music held offsite
Material that is held offsite must be ordered at least 50 minutes before these delivery times:
Saturdays: No deliveries
Reserved material is available on request within a few minutes of your arrival in the Special Collections Reading Room.
Applications for printed material to be consulted on the same day must be submitted by 16.25 (or by 15.30 for material held in the Causewayside Building). As printed books are stored in a number of buildings, delivery times will vary and may take over 24 hours.
Items with restricted access
A small number of books, maps and manuscripts of particular cultural significance have restricted access for preservation reasons:
- These items are available for consultation only for research which needs the originals and cannot be undertaken using existing surrogates
- You must give us 48 hours' notice that you wish to consult the item(s)
- If permission to consult is agreed, the item(s) will be read in the Special Collections Reading Room between 10:00 and 16:00 on weekdays only.
- Items in this category will not be available for consultation on Saturdays.
Photographs at 'Phot.' shelfmark
From 24 July, some of our photographic collections will be stored in a cool store to improve their preservation.
These items need to undergo an overnight acclimatisation procedure, and so you must request them by 16.00 so that we can issue them the following day.
The collections that are affected have the Library shelfmark 'Phot.', and we have flagged them up with a notice on their main catalogue record.
All material must be returned to the Collection and Return desk by 20.20 Monday to Friday and 12.50 on Saturdays. As the National Library of Scotland is reference only, no item from our collections may be removed.