NMS Research Library

Founded 230 years ago with its roots in the collections of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, the library collection now consists of over 300,000 volumes, embracing both modern research material and items up to 500 years old. The periodicals collection comprises over 400 titles, including e-journals.

The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland’s Library was founded in 1781 when the first book – Robert Sibbald’s “Scotia Illustrata” – was added to the Society’s collections. The Society’s collection were transferred to the nation in the mid-nineteenth century, and some library material, including many manuscripts, moved  to the National Library of Scotland and other institutions in the early twentieth century.

Much of the original library – including “Scotia Illustrata” – remains however, and is now integrated in National Museums Scotland Research Library with which the Society maintains close links, providing over 100 titles annually free of charge as part of the Proceedings exchange programme.

The National Museums Scotland Research Library also maintains the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland archive, including series of papers and manuscripts.

In recognition of the Society’s role in founding and enriching the national collections Fellows have privileges in the NMS Research Library not extended to the general public.

The Society positively encourages Fellows to make use of this unique facility, and to make themselves known at the library desk as Fellows so that we can demonstrate our appreciated use of the library!

Members of the public are welcome to use the Museum Libraries for reference.  Please contact us in advance to make an appointment, to discuss your enquiry or to reserve particular items.

Please order the material you require before your visit as no fetching can be done on the day.

You can also search the library’s online catalogue to reserve items in advance of your visit.



National Museums Scotland Library

Chambers Street
(0)131 247 4137

Opening hours:

We will be operating an appointment only system and, for the time being, reduced opening hours. 

Tuesday – Friday: 10.30-12.30pm

Monday – Friday: 1.30-3.30pm 

Weekends: Closed
Public Holidays: Closed

Opening hours are still 10am-1pm on Tuesday mornings, but on an appointment only basis, and only one appointment per Tuesday.

National War Museum Library

Edinburgh Castle
(0)131 247 4409
Open Tuesday 10:00 – 13:00

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