Explore Top 10+ Libraries to Visit in Edinburgh: A Comprehensive Guide

Libraries in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is home to a variety of libraries that are perfect for students and locals alike. From the main city centre library to smaller, specialized libraries, there is something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a place to study or just want to explore the city’s literary history, libraries in Edinburgh have it all. With no admission fees and plenty of resources available, these libraries in Edinburgh provide an excellent resource for anyone looking to learn more about the city or its culture.

From books and magazines to audio recordings and digital resources, libraries in Edinburgh are filled with information on history, art, literature, music and more. With so many different options available in the city centre alone, it can be hard to decide which library is right for you.

There are many different libraries in Edinburgh, each with its own specialities and focuses. The following are just some of them:

Libraries to Visit in Edinburgh

Libraries to Visit in Edinburgh

The National Library of Scotland

  • George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, UK, 
  • Opening hours: Mon – Fri 9.30 am – 8.30 am; Sat 9.30 am – 1 pm; Sun closed

The NLS offers an extensive number of resources for anyone inquisitive about learning Scottish history and culture. This library also offers free WiFi access, which makes it even more appealing to students and others looking for someplace to study or gather with friends. 

This library is located near Waverley Station at the top of The Mound. It houses one of the country’s largest collections of books, periodicals, newspapers and maps on all subjects from all over the world. Its special collections include historical maps and manuscripts relating to Scottish history as well as national archives for Scotland dating back 1,000 years or more. There are also resources for genealogy research, including census records from 1841 onwards; these can be viewed online or ordered in person at any library branch across Scotland.

The George Watson’s College Library

  • Colinton Road, Edinburgh, EH10 5EG
  • Opening hours: Mon – Fri 8.00 am – 5.00 pm

The George Watson’s College Library has been serving students since 1782 and continues to do so today with over 100,000 books available at any given time. It’s also one of the few libraries in the United Kingdom that provides a 24/7 service so students can get any research they need to be done whenever they need it done! They are a single-campus independent school in Edinburgh for children aged 3 to 18.

Libraries In The University of Edinburgh

  • George Square, Edinburgh EH8 9LJ
  • Opening hours: Mon – Thu 9:00 am – 7:50 pm, Fri 9:00 am – 6:50 pm, Sat 12:00 pm – 4:50 pm, Sun 12:00 pm – 6:50 pm

The University of Edinburgh is the fourth oldest university in the English-speaking world and one of Scotland’s ancient universities. The University of Edinburgh is ranked 17th in the world according to a 2011 QS World University Rankings. It has 18 research institutes and runs various research clusters within its faculties. The library system consists of 10 libraries including three main libraries: George Square Library (GSL), St Andrews House Library (SAH) and Queen’s Buildings Library (QB). The GSL provides access to all electronic resources available at Edinburgh University while SAH acts as an archive for rare books and special collections. QB provides access to theses submitted by students since 1968 as well as books published during their studies.

Central Library

  • 7-9 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1EG
  • Opening hours: Mon-Wed 10 am – 8 pm; Thurs – Sat 10 am – 5 pm

The city’s central library is located at George IV Bridge, in the heart of the Old Town and just minutes away from Princes Street. Unfurled in 1890 it was one of the first public libraries in Edinburgh. Since then, the library has been expanded several times due to space constraints.

It was during this time that the building became home to one of the world’s largest collections of books on science and technology.

Today, you’ll find over 6 million items in its collection, including books, videos, DVDs and music CDs. The library also offers access to a number of online databases that provide information on subjects ranging from art history to genealogy and family history research.

If you’re looking for a place where people come together to read books and enjoy quiet solitude, then Edinburgh Central Library is the place for you! It is one of the oldest libraries in Edinburgh,

and was used as a filming location for the TV series Rebus, during episode one of Black & Blue. 

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Library

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Library

  • Arboretum Pl, Edinburgh EH3 5NZ
  • Opening hours: Mon – Fri 10 am – 4 pm (Tuesday and Thursday access is by appointment only.)

One of the largest research libraries in Edinburgh, The Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh Library is Scotland’s national reference collection for specialist botanical and horticultural resources. There are over 1 million items like books, journals, original artworks, maps and much more in the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh Library (RBGE). All these items are accessible to the public. The Library also holds a large number of PhD theses, including many written by current and former members of staff. The RBGE library is an asset to mankind! For research visits, the RBGE archives are open on Tuesdays and Thursdays between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm. An appointment is essential to visit the RBGE archives division. They are responsible for looking after our historic records, and those of individuals and organisations related to RBGE, as well as papers relating to the development of botanical science and horticulture. The library offers numerous services and facilities. The RBGE Library also conducts several tours for visitors (maximum of 20 per group). Wi-Fi is freely available within the Library Reading Room.

Fountainbridge Library

137 Dundee St, Edinburgh EH11 1BG

Opening hours: Tues, Thurs, Fri, Sat 10 am – 5 pm; Mon, Wed 1 pm – 5 pm; Sun closed

The Fountyainbridge Library is one of the most important buildings on Dundee Street since 1897 and is also the best example of Scottish architecture. The building was funded by the estate of philanthropist Thomas Nelson. The building opened to the public during the blackout of WWII as a ‘state of the art’ library and continues to serve the local community. The library is home to over 30,000 books & also houses a reading room, a games room with 30 tables, a children’s room and a reference room to sit 30.


1. What is the biggest library in Edinburgh?

The National Library of Scotland is a reference library with world-class collections. It is also Scotland’s largest library and one of the major research libraries in Europe.

2. Can you return a book to any library in Edinburgh?

You can borrow up to 12 items at a time. It depends on where you live. Here you can return a library book to any library in the city. You can even turn school library books into the public library and vice versa.

3. Which library is the oldest in Edinburgh?

At almost 440 years old the University of Edinburgh Library is one of the oldest libraries in Scotland.

4. Do Edinburgh libraries have wi-fi?

Free internet and wifi. Library members can use the internet, wifi and LibreOffice software in all libraries. Book up to one week in advance.

5. How many libraries are there in Edinburgh?

There are about 28 libraries across Edinburgh, with Central Library being the first public library in Edinburgh. Edinburgh Central library comprises six libraries: Lending, Reference, Music, Art and Design, Edinburgh and Scottish and the Children’s Library.

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Libraries in Edinburgh

Explore Top 10+ Libraries to Visit in Edinburgh: A Comprehensive Guide

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