Prior to the National Library of Scotland was the Advocats Library which was established in 1689. By 1710 the first copyright act was created, establishing that the library would obtain a copy of every book published in Britain. The library not only receives books by legal deposit, but also makes purchases. The library was officially given to the country and became the National Library of Scotland in 1925 by an Act of Parliament. Collections include rare documents and manuscripts and online journals. There are 14 million books and manuscripts, 2 million maps and atlases, 300,000 music scores, and 25,000 newspaper and magazine titles. Every week over 6,000 new printed items arrive. In the archives are several of Scotland's best authors from the 20th century including John Buchan, Hugh MacDiamid, and Alasdair Gray.
One of the large exhibits on display is the Murray Exhibit. It includes letters between Murray and many famous people, several of them writers. There are letters from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Walter Scott, a funeral oration of Byron as well as a chart of Byron's relatives. There are also letters to Murray from the Duke of Argyll and Heinrich Schiemann.
Other exhibits include Scotland's Story, an overview of the National Library of Scotland, and the last letter of Mary Queen of Scots which was written to her brother-in-law who was the King of France. This letter was written on February 8th, 1587 just six hours before her execution. Also on display was a special exhibit "Swing through Time", following the creation and development of the game of golf. This game began in the middle ages and used to be a "short" version which died out temporarily. Scotland later designated areas which emerged outside the city streets and this allowed for the "long" game that is played today.
Collections, some of which are also digitized, include letters and early works of Robert Louis Stevenson. You can view the whole, original manuscript "Kidnapped" online. Also present are some very early books and prints including the Chepman and Myllar prints. There are works from Henryson and Dunbar, and very early romance and lyrical poetry dating from the middle ages as well.
(Image available at www.nls.uk/rlstevenson/kidnapped/)