Lorelle Squire

Lorelle Squire

Published: 16 Sep 2023

Source: Futurescot.com

The National Library of Scotland is a treasure trove of knowledge, history, and culture. As one of the country’s most important institutions, it holds a vast collection of books, manuscripts, maps, and other valuable resources. But did you know that this iconic library is also home to some astonishing facts that will leave you amazed? In this article, we will explore 14 astounding facts about the National Library of Scotland that showcase its significance and impact. From its humble beginnings to its impressive acquisitions, technological innovations, and cultural significance, these facts shed light on the rich history and importance of this revered institution. So, let’s delve into the fascinating world of the National Library of Scotland and discover what makes it truly exceptional.

Table of Contents

A Pioneering Institution

The National Library of Scotland is a pioneering institution that holds a prominent place in the country’s cultural heritage. With a rich and diverse collection, it is a treasure trove of knowledge and history.

Ancient Origins

The library’s origins can be traced back to 1682 when the Faculty of Advocates established a small collection for its members. Over the centuries, it grew exponentially, and in 1925, it was bestowed the status of a national library.

The Largest Library in Scotland

The National Library of Scotland holds the distinction of being the largest library in Scotland. With over 26 million printed items, it is a hub of information, encompassing books, manuscripts, maps, newspapers, and much more.

A Literary Haven

The library boasts an impressive collection of literature, with works from renowned Scottish authors such as Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, and Robert Louis Stevenson. It is a haven for book lovers and literary enthusiasts.

Awe-Inspiring Architecture

The library’s stunning architecture is a sight to behold. Located in Edinburgh, its iconic building was designed by George Washington Browne, and its grandeur adds to the overall experience of visiting this cultural landmark.

Early Independence

In 1783, the National Library of Scotland gained independence from the Faculty of Advocates and became a separate entity. This move solidified its importance as a national institution dedicated to preserving Scotland’s literary heritage.

Digital Innovations

The library has embraced the digital age, undertaking extensive digitization projects to make its collections accessible to a global audience. Through innovative technologies, it provides online resources, e-books, and digitized manuscripts.

A Magnet for Researchers

With its extensive collection and vast resources, the National Library of Scotland is a magnet for researchers. Scholars and academics from various disciplines flock to the library to explore its unique holdings and further their studies.

A Scottish Treasure Trove

The library is a veritable treasure trove of Scottish history and culture. It houses rare manuscripts, ancient maps, historic photographs, and other invaluable artifacts that provide insights into the nation’s past.

A Library with Global Reach

Despite its focus on Scottish literature and history, the National Library of Scotland has a global perspective. Its international collections span various languages and cultures, making it a hub for cross-cultural knowledge exchange.

A Catalyst for Creativity

The library is more than just a repository of books – it serves as a catalyst for creativity. It hosts various exhibitions, workshops, and events that celebrate literature, art, and culture, inspiring the creative minds of Scotland.

Preserving Scotland’s Sound Heritage

In addition to its vast collection of printed materials, the library is also committed to preserving Scotland’s sound heritage. It houses a significant collection of audio recordings, including traditional music, oral histories, and poetry readings.

An Invaluable Resource for Genealogists

Genealogists and family history researchers find a wealth of information at the National Library of Scotland. Its extensive archives and genealogy resources help trace family roots and uncover fascinating stories from the past.

Access for All

The National Library of Scotland prides itself on its commitment to providing access to information for everyone. With services tailored to diverse needs, it strives to make its collections inclusive and accessible to all individuals.

These are just a few of the astounding facts about the National Library of Scotland. This institution plays a vital role in preserving Scotland’s literary heritage, promoting research, and fostering a love for learning within the community. Pay a visit to this cultural gem, and immerse yourself in the wealth of knowledge it has to offer.


The National Library of Scotland is truly a remarkable institution that stands as a testament to the rich literary and cultural heritage of the country. With its extensive collection, stunning architecture, and countless treasures, it offers a wealth of knowledge and inspiration to visitors from around the world. Whether you’re a book lover, a history enthusiast, or simply curious about Scotland’s past, a visit to the National Library of Scotland is an experience not to be missed. Explore the halls, immerse yourself in its stories, and discover the astounding facts that make this library a truly special place.


1. What is the history of the National Library of Scotland?

The National Library of Scotland was founded in 1689 as the Advocates Library. Over the centuries, it has expanded its collection and in 1925 was granted national status, becoming the National Library of Scotland.

2. How many items are in the library’s collection?

The library holds over 31 million items, including books, manuscripts, maps, photographs, and more. It is one of the largest research libraries in the United Kingdom.

3. Can I access digital resources from the National Library of Scotland?

Yes, the library provides access to a wide range of digital resources, including digitized books, manuscripts, photographs, and newspapers. Many of these resources are available online for free.

4. Are there exhibitions and events held at the National Library of Scotland?

Absolutely! The library regularly hosts exhibitions, lectures, workshops, and other events that showcase its collections and promote learning and exploration. Check their website for upcoming events.

5. Can I borrow books from the National Library of Scotland?

No, the library operates as a reference library, meaning materials cannot be borrowed. However, you can access and study items within the library’s reading rooms.

6. Is the National Library of Scotland accessible for visitors with disabilities?

Yes, the library is committed to providing accessibility for all visitors. It offers accessible entrances, elevators, and facilities, as well as services for individuals with visual impairments or other disabilities. Contact the library in advance for specific accommodations.

7. Can I take photographs inside the National Library of Scotland?

Photography is generally permitted for personal, non-commercial use. However, some items, such as rare manuscripts or fragile materials, may have restrictions. It’s always wise to ask the staff for guidance.