NMS Library Services

National Museums Scotland
Chambers Street
Edinburgh EH1 1JF

Phone: +44 (0) 131 247 4137

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.

The founding library collection dates back over 240 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.

The collection reflects the strengths and variety of the Museum's collections and research interests in the following themes:

  • Archaeology
  • Scottish history and culture
  • Global arts, culture and design
  • Natural sciences
  • History of science and technology
  • Scottish military history
  • Museology

Public Access

Our library collections can be accessed by the public at two of our sites.

The Research Library in the National Museum of Scotland (our main reading room) is open Tuesday to Friday 10am to 4pm without appointment. Please email the library team in advance to ensure that specific items can be made available to you on the day. Appointments are required to view Special Collections and Archives material; please complete a Booking Request Form.

The National War Museum Library, within the walls of Edinburgh Castle, is open by appointment on Tuesdays (email the library team)

Getting Here

The Research Library is located off the Technology by Design gallery on Level 3 of the National Museum of Scotland. We are at the opposite end to the Communicate gallery on the Museum map.

See our website's Visiting FAQs for useful information on planning your visit.

The National War Museum Library is located at the National War Museum at Edinburgh Castle. It operates on an appointment basis.

The National War Museum Library is not easily accessible for visitors with limited mobility. See separate information about Accessibility on the website. We can retrieve items held at the Library for visitors to access from the Research Library at the National Museum of Scotland.