Our services

The services desk at the Scottish Poetry Library


Reference enquiry service

We will happily assist you with any type of poetry-related enquiries, whether you are looking for a lost poem, or seeking guidance on which poems to use, or are engaged in research on poetry. These services are free of charge.

Finding poems

If there are lines going round in your head that you can’t place, or you’d like to see the whole of a poem you learnt at school, try submitting the words you remember to us and we’ll do our best to find the poem for you. You can ask us for suggestions for poems for weddings, funeral readings and other life occasions, and we can also look for poems on particular subjects or themes.

Copyright enquiries

The basic rule about copyright is that the poet needs to have been dead for 70 years or more before his or her work is freely available. If they died more recently than that, or if still alive, you need permission to reproduce anything which amounts to more than 10% of a poem. If you need advice, or would like to know who holds the copyright to a particular poet’s work, we will be able to help.

Research assistance

If you are engaged in researching a particular poet, poetry movement, or period of time, the SPL can help. As well as our extensive reference collection, we have compiled an index to the poetry content of twenty 20th century Scottish literary magazines (the Scottish Poetry Index), and we have a unique file of cuttings. The strength of both these tools is Scottish poets and poetry, particularly of the 20th and 21st centuries, but other countries are also covered to a certain extent. If you would like more information on how to get the most from our resources, we would be pleased to assist.


We add subject terms for themes to our catalogue entries, which means we are able to call up poems on all sorts of subjects, from frogs to fiddles, from the Battle of Culloden to global warming. All this is available on our online catalogue. Please get in touch if you would like guidance on how to use it.