National Library of Scotland

National Library of Scotland
George IV Bridge



General Enquiries



Rare and Specialist Collections

Public Programme


0131 226 4531


General Enquiries

+44 (0)131-622 4803

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.
National Library of Scotland
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Scotland's largest library and the world centre for the study of Scotland and the Scots. Thanks to our UK legal deposit status, we are also a vast reference library.

Venue Type:

Library, Archive

Opening hours

General Reading Room:

Monday - 09.30-20.30
Tuesday - 09.30-20.30
Wednesday - 10.00-20.30
Thursday - 09.30-20.30
Friday - 09.30-20.30
Saturday - 09.30-13.00

Closed: Sunday

Admission charges

Free admission to Reading Rooms, exhibitions and workshops. Some events are chargeable.

7 million printed books, 120,000 volumes of manuscripts, 1.6 million maps, and over 20,000 newspaper and magazine titles.

Collection details

Archaeology, Archives, Industry, Law and Order, Literature, Maritime, Medicine, Music, Natural Sciences, Religion, Science and Technology, Social History, World Cultures

Key artists and exhibits

  • Robert Burns
  • Mary Queen of Scots
  • Edinburgh Calotype Club
  • Douglas Haig
  • Winston Churchill
  • Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The Murthly Hours
  • The Auchinleck Manuscript
  • Modern Scottish Writers
  • Edinburgh’s Theatre Royal
  • Map Library - military and civilian
Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.

EXHIBITION -Behind the Lines: personal stories of the First World War

  • 27 June — 11 November 2014 *on now

As the centenary of its outbreak is marked across the world, this exhibition examines Scotland's role in the First World War through the personal stories of a number of men and women who lived, and died, during this momentous period in history. Diaries, letters, photographs and sketches of men on active service, nurses at the front, grieving parents and conscientious objectors imprisoned for their beliefs offer a direct link to the diverse experiences of individual Scots during the war. Some of the stories featured will be 18 year old Mairi Chisholm, serving as a nurse very close to the Belgian trenches, 18 year old Bertie Dickson and his younger brother, Archie, both of whom fought at Jutland, and Sir David Henderson, the 'father' of the Royal Air Force.

Suitable for

  • Any age

TREASURES DISPLAY -Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley

  • 10 September — 16 November 2014 *on now

2014 is the 200th anniversary of the publication of Waverley, Sir Walter Scott’s first novel, and arguably the first ever historical novel. Lord Cockburn recalled how the appearance of Waverley struck Edinburgh ‘with an electric shock of delight,’ dealing with themes that greatly interested Scott’s contemporaries and that continue to fascinate today: the lost cause of Jacobitism, the romance of the ‘45 Rebellion, and the depiction of societies (both Highland and Lowland) in the course of profound
change. This display uses treasures from the Library’s collections to illuminate the moment of Waverley’s publication in 1814. In association with Scott 2014 – an Edinburgh City of Literature celebration of 200 years of Walter Scott’s Waverley.

Robert Louis Stevenson Day

  • 13 November 2014 10am-5pm

On the anniversary of the writer’s birth, NLS will be showcasing some of Stevenson’s work by hosting a variety of events. A collection of rare material including first editions and photographs will be on display for a limited time only (11 am – 2 pm) on the day.
In the evening at 6 pm, Andrew Martin, Curator of Literature and the Arts, will present a portrait of Stevenson’s last years in Samoa and the work inspired by his stay in the islands. This is a free event however booking is essential.
A smaller display of Stevenson’s work will be on display in the main foyer at George IV Bridge, from Thursday 13 – Sunday 16 November.

Suitable for

  • Any age
Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.


  • 3 November 2014 6:30-7:30pm

The spoken word and performance poetry scene is thriving in Scotland. Tricolour is a monthly event showcasing three different poetry and spoken word talents. Three different voices, three different styles, three different takes on life. Features Philip Hutton, Freddie Alexander, Steve Harvey

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children


Free admission
Booking essential


  • 1 December 2014 6:30-7:30pm

The spoken word and performance poetry scene is thriving in Scotland. Tricolour is a monthly event showcasing three different poetry and spoken word talents. Three different voices, three different styles, three different takes on life. Features Harry Giles, Jo Clifford, T S Rosenberg

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children


Admission free
Booking essential

Christmas Fair

  • 11 December 2014 6-8pm

No need to book, just come along on the night join us for our annual Christmas Fair, with yuletide bargains and festive treats galore; we’re sure we’ll have something for everyone. Enjoy a 20% discount on everything in our shop, from exhibition prints, mugs and candles to those hard to find books and children’s favourites. Once you’ve shopped, relax with our tasty refreshments and festive entertainment. A delightful way to see in the Christmas season!

Suitable for

  • Any age