Planning your visit to the RBGE Library

RBGE Library and Archives is a national reference collection and we welcome public visitors. Books and other items from the collections are made available for consultation in the Reading Room where visitors also have access to wi-fi and scanning facilities.

Before you visit please read our General Regulations and look at the Library's online catalogue to check that the books or other items that you wish to consult are available; if items are showing on the catalogue as being on loan you can e-mail or phone us on 0131 248 2853/2854 to ask for them to be recalled.

If you would like to consult items from the Special Collections or Archives please contact the Library at least 48 hours before your visit.  You are also advised to consult the Rules for the Consultation of Archives and Special Collections before your visit.


All visitors are encouraged to become Members of the RBGE Library by completing a Library Membership registration form on their first visit; on completion of the form you will be issued with a membership card that you should bring with you on subsequent visits.

As part of the registration process you will be asked to provide evidence of identity and address and so please ensure that bring one of each of the following types of ID when you visit:

  • 1 x Proof of identity, e.g. UK driving license, passport, University matriculation card, etc.
  • 1 x Proof of current address, e.g. TV licence, Council tax bill, Recent utilities bill, etc.

In completing the Library Membership Registration form you are agreeing to comply with the Library's General Regulations and the Rules for the Consultation of Archives and Special Collections.

Arriving at the Library

On arrival at the Library:

  • Please sign the Visitors Book each time that you visit
  • Please leave all bags in one of the lockers provided
  • Please leave outdoor coats, umbrellas, etc on the coat rail
  • Please bring pencils only (pens are not permitted in the reading room)
  • You are advised to retain items of value on your person; the Library is unable to accept responsibility for loss or damage to personal items that are left unattended during your visit
  • Clear plastic bags are available from Library staff for carrying notebooks, pencils etc whilst in the Library

The Library staff will bring you the items from the collection that you wish to consult and we will be happy to help you with anything else that you might need during your visit - just ask!

The following general regulations are intended to ensure the long-term preservation of the collections and all users are therefore asked to abide by them at all times.

  • The Library and Archive collections are a national resource and users are therefore asked to treat items with an appropriate level of care; Library staff monitor the use of the collections and reserve the right to ask users to modify their behaviour where appropriate;
  • When in the Reading Room users are expected to show consideration towards other users, for example, by keeping conversations to a minimum;
  • No food or drink is allowed in the Reading Room;
  • Laptops and other computing devices can be used in the Reading Room but should be used in silent mode;
  • Mobile phones/pagers can be taken into the Reading Room but the making and receiving of calls is not allowed and the devices should be used in silent mode;
  • Library and Archive materials may only be copied with permission from Library staff
  • All copying should be carried out using the scanner that is available for use in the Reading Room; scanning to USB is offered free to users but printing is ;chargeable (please ask Library staff for details of the current rates);
  • Copying of Library and Archive materials is permitted solely for personal research purposes and all copying must be in strict adherence to copyright legislation;
  • The use of cameras is allowed subject to the completion of an Application Form to take Photographs in RBGE Library; please ask a member of Library staff for further information;
  • The Library reserves the right to examine users' papers and / or bags before their departure from the Library.

Breaches of these regulations may result in users being asked to leave the Reading Room and, in the case of serious or repeated breaches, membership and access to the collections may be withdrawn.

The items in these collections are extremely rare and potentially irreplaceable and users are therefore asked to use more than ordinary care when handling them.

  • The Head of the Library reserves the right to refuse requests for access to items in these collections, for example, where items are in a fragile condition;
  • Library staff will retrieve and reshelve all items; retrieved items should remain on the consultation table at all times;
  • Users must use any cushions, supports and weights that are provided by the Library staff at all times; 
  • Users must ensure that they have clean, dry hands that are free from lotions at all times when handling items; Library staff reserve the right to ask users to wash their hands and will withhold items until such requests have been complied with;
  • Users must agree to wear gloves if requested to do so by the Library staff, for example, when handlng photographic materials;
  • Users are strictly prohibited from writing on, scoring or otherwise marking materials;
  • No objects should be laid on items, with the exception of special weights that will be provided by Library staff where appropriate.

The Library follows best practice in the sector and reserves the right to update these rules as required in order to reflect this.

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The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a charity (registration number SC007983)