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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, and you can preorder manuscript material.
Manuscripts are delivered to the reading room at set times. Requests for new orders must be made at least 45 minutes before these delivery times:
- Morning deliveries: 10.15, 11.15 and 12.15
- Afternoon deliveries: 14.15, 15.15 and 16.15
- Requests received between 11.30 and 12.30 will be delivered at 14.15
- Please make requests by 15.30 in time for the last delivery at 16.15.
- There are deliveries at 10.30 and 11.30
- Requests for the last delivery at 11.30 can be made until 11.00
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 using 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 to the reading room at set times.
Rare books and music held in George IV Bridge
Material held in George IV Bridge must be ordered at least 45 minutes before these delivery times:
- Morning deliveries: 10.00, 11.00 and 12.00
- Afternoon deliveries: 14.00, 15.00 and 16.00
- Requests received between 11.15 and 12.15 will be delivered at 14.00
- Please make requests by 15.15 in time for the last delivery at 16.00.
- There are deliveries at 10.00, 11.00 and 12.00
- Please make requests by 11.15 in time for the last delivery at 12.00
Rare books and music held offsite
Material that is held offsite must be ordered at least 90 minutes before these delivery times:
- Morning deliveries: 10.30, 11.30 and 12.30
- Afternoon deliveries: 14.30, 15.30 and 16.30
- Requests received between 11.00 and 12.00 will be delivered at 14.30
- Please make requests by 15.00 in time for the last offsite delivery at 16.30.
- Deliveries at 10.30 and 12.30
- Please make requests by 11.00 in time for the last offsite delivery at 12.30
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 (Monday-Fridays) only.
- Items in this category will not be available for consultation on Saturdays.
Photographs at 'Phot.' shelfmark
Some of our photographic collections are 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 15.15 so that we can issue them the following day. Requests made after 15.15 on a Friday will not be available until the following Tuesday.
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:
- 18.50 (Monday - Thursday)
- 16.50 (Friday - Saturday)
As the National Library of Scotland is reference only, no item from our collections may be removed.