Our world-class collections

We’d like to welcome old and new readers to our refreshed National Library of Scotland blog. We’ll be posting a wide variety of regular updates about our outstanding collections.

We hold over 24 million items and have much more than books. We also offer maps, films, photographs, manuscripts and archives, music scores, newspapers and much more. As a reference Library, we don’t lend out any items, but registered readers can search the catalogue online ahead of visiting. Also online are our digital galleries which cover a multitude of subjects and interests.

Another way to explore our collections is through our themed exhibitions, which showcase items of interest from our collections. A curry powder advertisement forms part of our current ‘Lifting the Lid: 400 years of food and drink in Scotland’ exhibition. Our forthcoming winter exhibition, Plague!, exploring the history of contagious diseases in Scotland, opens to the public on Friday 11 December.


Now did you know our map collection is one of the ten largest in the world? We have approximately two million cartographic items spanning the globe and over seven centuries in time.

A large variety of historical and modern maps can be searched online and the Maps Reading Room allows practical consultation of maps and related services with dedicated staff.

A map of Scotland believed to be produced by Paolo Forlani between 1558 and 1566

Turning to the silver screen; from home movies to documentaries the National Library of Scotland Moving Image Archive (formerly Scottish Screen Archive) has something for everyone.

Visitors can access over 1,700 films and clips online, browse information on film-makers and film productions and buy DVDs in the online shop.

A still from 'Loch Lomond' - a film in the National Library Moving Image Archive collection - reference number 2250

A final thing to mention is our calendar of Library events, run by our dedicated events team. These are open to the public, usually free and include talks, lectures, shows, music, poetry, Christmas shopping, family history workshops and much more.

Public tour of the National Library of Scotland

We’ll be posting regular weekly updates to our National Library blog, so keep up to date by clicking the ‘subscribe with RSS’ button at the top of this page. You can also share blog posts on social media by clicking the ‘share’ button at the bottom of each post.

Stewart Hardy, Marketing Officer at the National Library of Scotland