Can I borrow books?

We offer a free lending service and aim to make our collection as accessible as possible. New borrower forms are available online or from library reception. We will ask to see proof of your identity before items can be issued to you. If you are posting a form in, please let us know if the proof of identity included should be returned to you. We strongly recommend sending a photocopy.

How many books can I borrow? When will they be due back?

Six lending items can be borrowed for 30 working days. CDs and audio cassettes incur no extra charge and can also be borrowed for 30 working days. 

What if I want to renew my items?

Borrowed items can be renewed by phoning 0131 557 2876, emailing, in person or online via this link. Please use the password and login issued to you when you signed up. Items can be renewed twice unless requested by another patron.

How do I return my items if the library is closed?

There is a large letterbox by the entrance to the Library for the return of items outside our opening hours.

Can I borrow by post?

The SPL offers a postal loan service throughout Scotland and the UK for borrowers unable to visit the Edinburgh premises. We charge £1 per item for this service; items are sent out with a Freepost label to facilitate their return. We regret that we cannot offer international postal loans. If you have a specific enquiry and live overseas, please get in touch – we may be able to help in other ways, such as supplying in electronic format.

Postal loans are free to teachers, school librarians, those registered disabled – and to all Friends of the Library. Friends' membership is £35/£25 per year, and is particularly good value if you intend to borrow regularly by post.

My books are late! Is there a fine?

We appreciate the prompt return of items so they can be made available for other users and because sending reminders incurs expense on our part. If items are not returned after our final reminder, we consider them to be lost and will require reimbursement for the total cost. We encourage borrowers to make a donation to the Library book purchases fund if returning items late, as a positive alternative to paying a fine.

A title I’m looking for…

…is checked out to another patron

We can place a hold on a lending title for you, or you can place a hold on a title by logging into our online catalogue. This will prevent this title being renewed and we will let you know when it is returned to us while holding it at the front desk in your name.

...isn’t in your collection

Although we specialise in twentieth century Scottish poetry, we have extensive holdings of poetry from Europe and throughout the world.  We also hold pamphlets, periodicals, cuttings and audio-visual material. We welcome your comments and suggestions. Whether it is a new title, or something older, we are always happy to help you find it and may consider purchasing it for the collection.

Online Services

Our online system provides enhanced features and enables you to control your own account – please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need help using it.

You will find our online catalogue and your borrower record at

Anyone can browse the catalogue, you do not need to be signed up with us to search it.

How do I log in?

If you have signed up as a borrower you can log in to review your account and request items. To log in, please use the password and login issued to you when you signed up. If you have lost your sign in information, or signed up before these services were available, please email

I haven’t changed my password or logged in before – but I don’t know my details

Your default login and password will be:

Login: your first name and surname, all in lowercase and without spaces, for example: sarahsmith

Password: your seven digit borrower number beginning with ‘200’, which can be found on the back of your borrower card.

We recommend that you change your password.

What if my details are incorrect?

You can either email us at, call us on 0131 557 2876 with any changes and additions or you can write to us at 5 Crichton’s Close, Canongate, Edinburgh, EH8 8DT. You can also make changes yourself online. Please let us know if you no longer wish to be registered as a borrower or if your contact details change.

What can I do when I am logged in?

You can renew your items, view your checked out items, view items you have checked out in the past, make lists of items you would like to borrow, place holds on items you would like to reserve and more.

I’m having trouble using or logging into the online system.

You can either email us at or call us on 0131 557 2876 to reset your password or ask any questions about our online services. We’ll do everything we can to help.

Where else can I borrow poetry? 

We’ve worked with these public libraries on their poetry collections:

UWS Ayr Campus Library 
Brookwood Library, Bearsden
Ewart Library, Dumfries 
Elgin Library 
Hillhead Library, Glasgow
Grangemouth Library 
Paisley Central Library
Stromness Library 
Shetland Library 
Portree Library
Peebles Library
Lionacleit Community Library
Ceilidh Place, Ullapool has poetry books to borrow, books in each bedroom, and a great bookshop!