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Books in the library

Request to view Special Collections

This form is for visitors who want to view Archives or Rare Books in the National Museum of Scotland Library’s Special Collections.

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Find out more about individual books and journals we hold.

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How to complete this form

Complete this form to request a visit to the Research Library at the National Museum of Scotland. It’s essential that you book in advance. We ask for three working days’ notice to check the location and condition of items, and to discuss any special arrangements that may be required.

We want you to feel welcome and get the greatest benefit possible from your visit to the Research Library. Got a question? Contact us on

  • Before giving access to our collections, we will ask you to show us a form of photo id for personal identification (such as a valid driving licence or student matriculation card). Please have this ready to show staff on arrival.
  • Always wash and dry your hands before handling special collection items. Library staff can direct you to the nearest facilities. Do not use hand creams or lotions that could transfer to material.
  • The wearing of disposable, nitrile gloves is not mandatory except in circumstances where it is considered necessary for care of the material. If you are wearing nail polish, ask staff to supply you with a pair of nitrile gloves.
  • On arrival at the Research Library, store your bag and coat safely out of reach of the special collections desk. Staff may ask you to take additional care with wet outdoor jackets and umbrellas. These will be stored securely within the library, well away from the collections.
  • Food and drink cannot be consumed in the Research Library. The National Museum of Scotland has two café options for eating. If you prefer to bring your own lunch, there is a dedicated picnic space in the Scotland Transformed gallery. You may bring a sealable water bottle that can be stored at your feet, and never on the desk.
  • To reduce the risk of accidental marking, only pencils may be used at the special collections desk. This includes non-use of bookmarks and post-it notes.
  • Remove or tuck in, loose items of clothing such as lanyards, keyrings, or jewellery that risk making contact, and potentially damaging collection items.
  • Use the equipment provided for careful book handling such as book supports and weights. Staff are available to demonstrate use of the equipment and to answer questions about handling fragile items and alternative formats.
  • You may use a laptop and other personal devices at the special collections desk provided there is no contact with the material. The library has access to the National Museums of Scotland public Wi-Fi network and there is a power socket for charging your personal devices.
  • Ask library staff if you wish to either take photographs or obtain a digital copy of special items for private research or study. Due to the significant risk of damage to special items, photocopying is not permitted. If the copies you are making are for commercial research or supply, then your request must be sent to the Museums’ Picture Library. 

Research Library Visit Request

For more than three visitors in a group requests should be sent by email to

Please tell us as much as you can about the material you wish to see. Details of the material held in our Special Collections & Archives is available on the library catalogue:

By selecting this check box you are agreeing to abide by the following General Handling Principles to minimise the risk of damage to our collections and to preserve them for as long as possible.

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