National Library of Scotland

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.

Lifting the Lid: 400 years of food and drink in Scotland

  • 12 June — 8 November 2015 *on now

Did you know Edinburgh grocers sold curry powder in 1798?

What is scarfie soup?

Today we cut down sugar for health reasons but did you know that 17th century cooks made ‘marmalade with very little sugar’ because of the cost?

Using the Library’s rich collections of manuscript and printed recipe books, our summer exhibition explores Scotland’s changing relationship with food and drink over the centuries, as part of the Year of Food and Drink 2015.

The Scots have been branded the ‘sick man of Europe’ and our eating habits condemned yet, before the industrial age, the rural poor were said to be ‘remarkably healthy’ with a simple, frugal but wholesome diet despite the limited availability of food.

This exhibition uses a variety of material – manuscripts, books, household accounts and tradesmen’s bills, and amateur and government films about food – to contrast the richness and diversity of Scotland’s larder with the myths and traditions associated with its people’s diet.

Suitable for

  • Any age
  • Family friendly

National Library of Scotland
George IV Bridge



General Enquiries



Rare and Specialist Collections

Public Programme


0131 623 3700


General Enquiries

+44 (0)131-623 3701

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.