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The National Library of Scotland is Scotland's largest library. The institution is home to 14 million printed items, over 100,000 manuscripts, around two million maps, and 25,000 newspaper and magazine titles. The library receives roughly 320,000 new items every year, and has material in 490 languages.
Before the National Library of Scotland was created, Edinburgh had the Library of the Faculty of Advocates which was the most prestigious of all the libraries in Scotland. Founded in the early 1680s, the Advocates Library in Edinburgh was formally opened in 1689. Under the 1710 Copyright Act it was given the legal right to claim a copy of every book published in Britain. In the following centuries, the Library added books and manuscripts to the collections by purchase as well as legal deposit. The National Library of Scotland was formally constituted by an Act of Parliament in 1925.
The main building on George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, was opened by the Queen on 4 July 1956 and the Causewayside Building opened in two phases in 1989 and in 1995. Since 1999, the Library has been answerable to the Scottish Parliament and funded by the Scottish Government. It remains one of only six legal deposit libraries in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and is governed by a board of trustees.
The library has a collection of over one million rare books. Many of these are original printed volumes dating from 1455 to the present day. There are also photographs, posters, newspapers, postcards and prints. At the heart of the collections is Scottish material, particularly early books written by Scots, about Scottish topics, in Scottish languages, or published in Scotland.
The library has also a Manuscript Collection. The first manuscript was acquired by the National Library of Scotland's predecessor, the Advocates Library, in 1683, and since 1925 the Library has been the repository of the major collections of manuscripts and archives, which cover many aspects of the lives, activities and interests of Scots at home and abroad. Additionally the George IV Bridge Building has free exhibitions and a permanent display area with themes changed regularly. Samples of the many treasures in NLS collections are on show: From hand-written documents to printed books, maps, musical scores, bindings and other art work. All treasures are important pieces of Scotland's cultural heritage. Throughout the year the themes of the displays are changed, bringing to light more of the millions of items hold.