National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

How To Order and Access Our Records

How To Order and Access Our Records

Please ensure you read the following information on how to order and access our records, this forms part of our Conditions of Access:

When you arrive in the Historical search room, you will be allocated a seat and staff will retain your readers ticket. 

The catalogues and reference books on the open shelves in the search room areas are self-service. Please leave an order slip in place of any volume removed, giving your name, seat number, date and return as soon as possible.

On-site records

  • You can order records using the electronic ordering system on the computers located in the search room. You will need to know your reader’s ticket number, so please make a note of that before you hand it to staff. When you have entered this, please check that the name and seat number which comes up are correct for you. Then type the full reference numbers for each item and submit your request.
  • Staff will bring records to your seat in the Historical Search Room.
  • Please do not remove records from your allocated desk or share with other readers. Records must only be moved by staff.
  • Document requests may be made up to 3.45pm each day.
  • We aim to deliver on-site records within 30 minutes of a request being made.
  • You may request six on-site items at a time. No more than three of these items will be issued to you at any one time. In the case of papers which have not yet received individual piece numbers, only one bundle will normally be issued at a time.

Off-site records

  • To request items held off-site, either use your own device or one of the search room computers to access the online catalogue. Once you have identified an item - those off-site will include, near the top, the direction to ‘click here’ to request the item - you will then be prompted to add your details and choose a date to return and view the item. You can request up to 12 off-site items per day.
  • We aim to produce records held off-site within three working days of a request being placed.

Returning records

  • When you are ready to return records, please alert a member of staff and these will be collected from your desk, checked and returned to storage. Staff members may be assisting other readers and will be with you as quickly as possible.
  • Your reader’s ticket will be returned when all records have been returned and accounted for, or if you leave for a break.
  • You can arrange for records to be kept out for further consultation for up to 5 days by speaking to staff.

Restrictions on access

  • You are not permitted access to private collections for legal purposes without the prior written permission of the owners or depositors.
  • It may be necessary periodically to withdraw material from public use for reasons such as stocktaking, conservation, display or copying. NRS also reserves the right to withdraw any document in poor or fragile condition