National Library of Scotland
The main building on George IV Bridge
|Reference to legal mandate||National Library of Scotland Act 1925|
|Size||14M printed items|
|Legal deposit||Ireland and the United Kingdom|
|Access and use|
|Budget||Operating budget 2010/11 £14.882 million GBP|
|Director||Martyn Wade, National Librarian and Chief Executive|
The National Library of Scotland (Scottish Gaelic: Leabharlann Nàiseanta na h-Alba, Scots: Naitional Leebrar o Scotland) is the legal deposit library of Scotland and is one of the country's National Collections. It is based in a collection of buildings in Edinburgh city centre. The headquarters is on George IV Bridge, between the Old Town and the university quarter. There is also a more modern building (1980s) in a residential area on the south side of the town centre, on Causewayside. This was built to accommodate some of the specialist collections (e.g., map library, science library) and to provide large-scale extra storage.
The National Library of Scotland holds 7 million books, 14 million printed items and over 2 million maps. The collection includes copies of the Gutenberg Bible, the letter which Charles Darwin submitted with the manuscript of Origin of Species, the First Folio of Shakespeare and numerous journals and other publications. It has the largest collection of Scottish Gaelic material of any library.
The National Library of Scotland is a relatively recent body, only formally established by Act of Parliament in 1925. Previously, Scotland's national deposit library was the Advocates Library belonging to the Faculty of Advocates. This was opened in 1689 and gained national library status in the 1710 Copyright Act, giving it the legal right to claim a copy of every book published in Great Britain. In the following centuries, the library added books and manuscripts to the collections by purchase as well as legal deposit, creating a national library in all but name.
By the 1920s, the upkeep of such a major collection was too much for a private body, and, with an endowment of £100,000 provided by Sir Alexander Grant of Forres, the library's contents were presented to the nation. The National Library of Scotland was formally constituted by an Act of Parliament in 1925.
Sir Alexander Grant gave a further £100,000 – making his combined donations the equivalent of around £6 million today – for a new library building to be constructed on George IV Bridge, replacing the very grand Victorian Edinburgh Sheriff Court, which moved to the Royal Mile. Government funding was secured which matched Sir Alexander's donation. Work on the new building was started in 1938, interrupted by the Second World War, and completed in 1956. The architect was Reginald Fairlie; the architectural sculptor was Hew Lorimer. The coat of arms above the entrance was sculpted by Scott Sutherland.
By the 1970s, room for the ever-expanding collections was running out, and it was obvious that other premises were needed. The Causewayside Building opened in the south-side of Edinburgh in two phases, in 1989 and in 1995, at a total cost of almost £50 million, providing much-needed additional working space and storage facilities.
Since 1999, the Library has been funded by the Scottish Parliament. It remains one of only six legal deposit libraries in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and is governed by a board of trustees.
On 26 February 2009, areas of the building were flooded after a water main burst on the 12th floor. Firefighters were called and the leaking water was stopped within ten minutes. A number of items were lightly damaged.
The Library joined the 10:10 project in 2010 in a bid to reduce their carbon footprint. One year later they announced that they had reduced their carbon emissions according to 10:10's criteria by 18%.
- Bartholomew Archive
- John Murray Archive
- Scottish Publishers Association
- Ask Scotland, Scotland's online information service provided by Scotland’s libraries
- "Places to Visit in Scotland - National Library of Scotland". rampantscotland.com. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
- Turnbull, Michael TRB (6 August 2009). "History of Rosslyn". BBC. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
- "National library hit by flooding". BBC. 27 February 2009. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
- "Mary Queen of Scots' last letter now on display for limited time". National Library of Scotland. 13 September 2009. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
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