January 18, 2022

National Library of Scotland Releases New Strategy Document, Includes Plan to Place One-Third of Collection Online During Next 10 Years

From the National Library of Scotland:

The National Library of Scotland plans to put a third of its renowned collection of 24 million items online in the next 10 years in one of the biggest programmes of its kind anywhere in Europe.

It will be a gateway to information on Scottish culture and history that will allow millions of people to view unique documents including manuscripts of major Scottish writers such as Robert Burns and Walter Scott, fascinating official reports on many subjects, thousands of films on life in Scotland, and — bringing things up to date — memorabilia from last year’s referendum on Scottish independence, among many others.


The Library is committed to making as much material digitally available as possible, subject to restrictions imposed by copyright or conditions set by publishers. This includes not only precious manuscripts, rare books, maps, sound archives, e-books and journals, but business information, databases and other content that will contribute to economic growth and social wellbeing.

‘The internet has created a revolution in how people expect to be able to access information,’ said National Librarian Dr John Scally. ‘We want people to be able to connect to our collections from wherever they are, rather than having to consult material in the Library as has been the case for most of our existence. We are committed to removing as many barriers as possible that prevent people accessing our collections and services.’

He added: ‘Our role is to be the guardian of the published and recorded memory of Scotland for current and future generations. Our aim is to make the knowledge held within our collections as widely available as possible.’

Although digital developments present many opportunities, Dr Scally stressed that the physical book and the Library as a physical destination will continue to play a central role in its plans. Supporting research and improving traditional library services will remain a key priority.

The Library already has a strong online presence and has digitised a number of its iconic items including the last letter of Mary Queen of Scots, the Order for the massacre of Glencoe, the first books printed in Scotland in the 16th century, the first atlas of Scotland and First World War official photographs.


It has seen traffic to its website double in the past five years to more than three million visits annually. The digital shift to take place over the next decade will add to the rich content available online and attract even more visitors. It will also mean that fragile items that can be damaged through physical contact can be viewed safely with the original being preserved.

Direct to Full Text of New Strategy Document: The Way Forward: Library Strategy 2015-2020 (10 pages; PDF)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.