Our library services support the research and learning needs of Museum staff, visitors, and the wider external research community.

National Museums Scotland has the largest museum library collection in Scotland. Our library services support the research and learning needs of Museum staff, visitors and the wider external research community.  There are two libraries which have public access - the Research Library in the National Museum of Scotland (our main reading room) and the National War Museum Library

The founding library collection dates back 235 years with its roots in the collections of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. It is now a modern research library with collections and services reflecting the strength and variety of the Museum’s collections and research directions.

  • 'Etherem qui genuit' [= Aether who begets.]; illustration of Jupiter and a seven-lined capital 'E' from our oldest book: Genealogiae deorum gentilium by Giovanni Boccaccio, Venice, 1487.

    'Etherem qui genuit' [= Aether who begets.];  illustration of Jupiter and a seven-lined capital 'E' from our oldest book: Genealogiae deorum gentilium by Giovanni Boccaccio, Venice, 1487.
  • Plate XXIII of De uitlandsche kapellen voorkomende in de drie waereld-deelen Asia, Africa en America by Pieter Cramer,1779.

    Plate XXIII of De uitlandsche kapellen voorkomende in de drie waereld-deelen Asia, Africa en America by Pieter Cramer,1779.
  • L'Urubu ou Roi des Vautours de Cayenne, from Histoire naturelle des oiseaux, by Georges Louis Leclerc Buffon.

    L'Urubu ou Roi des Vautours de Cayenne, from Histoire naturelle des oiseaux, by Georges Louis Leclerc Buffon.
  • Prione, Prionus from Entomologie, ou Histoire naturelle des insectes, by A.G. Olivier,1808.

    Prione, Prionus  from Entomologie, ou Histoire naturelle des insectes, by A.G. Olivier,1808.
  • Rugyvith, Porevith, Porenuth, Suantovite from Britannia antiqua illustrata, by Aylett Sammes, 1676.

    Rugyvith, Porevith, Porenuth, Suantovite from Britannia antiqua illustrata, by Aylett Sammes, 1676.
  • Airs and melodies peculiar to the Highland of Scotland and the Isles.

    Airs and melodies peculiar to the Highland of Scotland and the Isles.
  • "Discovery" April 1902 from The South Polar Times.

    "Discovery" April 1902 from The South Polar Times.
  • Decorative half-title page from Les delices des yeux et de l' esprit, 1764.

    Decorative half-title page from Les delices des yeux et de l' esprit, 1764.

 

Library collection

The library has a unique collection  which is particularly strong in archaeology and decorative arts, consisting of:

  • 300,000 monographs and other printed items
  • 450 current periodicals titles and access to 4,300 e-journals (90 are unique to libraries in Scotland)
  • Over 2000 rare and antiquarian books published before 1851 
  • Manuscripts and papers of noted archaeologists, antiquarians and natural historians
  • Archive material associated with the history and object collections of National Museums Scotland and the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

More information is available on the range and coverage of our library collection and you can also browse the library catalogue to find out more about individual books and journals we hold.

Finding the Libraries

The Research Library is on Level 3 of the National Museum of Scotland adjacent to the Technology by Design gallery. 

The National War Museum Scotland Library in Edinburgh Castle is appointment only on Tuesday mornings.

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Blog
Blog posts from the Library

The secret life of books revealed.
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Library collection

The scope of the library collection reflects the strengths and variety of the Museums’ collections.
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Research Library

The Research Library is our main reading room on level 3 of the National Museum of Scotland.
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National War Museum Library

The Library is based in the National War Museum within the walls of Edinburgh Castle.
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Contact us

National Museums Scotland Library Services
Chambers Street
Edinburgh EH1 1JF
Tel: 0131 247 4137
Email: library@nms.ac.uk

Research Library
Level 3
National Museum of Scotland
Chambers Street
Edinburgh EH1 1JF

Opening Hours
Monday to Friday 10:00–17:00
Closed at weekends and public holidays