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The Ultimate Guide to the University of Edinburgh's Main Library


Get an insider's guide to the University of Edinburgh's Main Library - learn tips and tricks to make the most of your Summer School.

How to register

As part of your induction, you’ll be given information on how to register with the library - remember that you’ll need to bring ID and proof of address.


There are so many good places to eat near the library that it’s almost worth going just for that. Along with the Library cafe, which does sandwiches to die for and an impressive array of caffeinated beverages, George Square is full of food stalls throughout the year - and during the festival, it’s even better with the George Square Gardens filled to the brim with makeshift theatres and pop-up restaurants. If you need a break from the immediate university environs, pop down the road to Press Coffee at the end of Buccleuch Street or nip round the corner to the incredible Cult Espresso. They both offer good-sized tables and wifi, so if you fancy staying there for a while to do some work, you’ll be well-set. Just off Middle Meadow Walk, you’ll find a supermarket and a Starbucks, but if you fancy something a bit different then Swedish bakery Peter’s Yard is always a favourite - if you can get a table.

Beyond the books

As libraries go, this is a fairly easy one to navigate. The most frequently used books, particularly the ones on course reading lists, can be found on the ground floor in the HUB - Highly Used Books section. Otherwise, just pop up the stairs or jump in the lift to find what you’re looking for - both floors and shelves are clearly labelled. If you need computer access, there are computers for use on several floors, and there’s plenty of study space as well as breakout areas if you need a chat after all that hard work. The best spot in the whole building - maybe even the whole university - is the stunning views from the 5th and 6th floors. The 5th-floor study space, in particular, gives you the option of one of two views - looking out over George Square to Teviot Place and Potterow, or across to Arthurs Seat and the Pentlands. Try not to spend all the time staring out of the window, though.


Although the library is open 24/7, it’s still…well, a library. You’ll be given a copy of the regulations when you register, and they’re also available online. The big thing here is returning the books on time, otherwise you’ll be eligible for a fine, which the library will inform you about over email - and they will remind you if you don’t pay in a timely fashion. If you lost or damage any of the books you take out, you’re likely to be liable for the costs of replacing it and you’re absolutely forbidden from making notes in the books themselves. Unsurprisingly smoking is not allowed, phones need to be switched to silent and you can only bring food and drink into the designated areas. However, you’ll find the library staff and patrons all friendly and ready to help!

During the Festival

While it’s normally a studious space during term time, festival season hits George Square with a vengeance! Although the library will still be a calm refuge from the rest of the world, don’t spend all your time cooped away with books when there are incredible comedy acts, plays and performances taking place less than twenty feet away. Plan your study time carefully to make sure you also enjoy the city during the amazing festival season.

Have you applied for the University of Edinburgh Summer School this year? Take a look at our Courses page to see what's available this summer. >