In keeping with Sabhal Mòr Ostaig's status as the National Centre of Gaelic Language and Culture, the Library has an important role in acquiring and storing Gaelic related resources in print and other formats. The Library's collections span the centuries from early printed books to the latest in electronic resources.
The quality, rarity and significance of the Sabhal Mòr Ostaig collections make them an important part of the nation's documentary record and their international value has been recognised through the Library's membership of the Consortium of European Research Libraries and Ligue des Bibliothèques Européenes de Recherche.
The Lending Collection supports the curriculum, covering subjects taught on College courses including Gaelic language and literature, language policy and planning, Highland history, material culture, folklore and traditional music. Resources are available in a variety of formats (e.g print, audio visual and digital) and materials are stocked in Gaelic, English and other Celtic languages
Sabhal Mòr Ostaig's Library holds outstanding antiquarian collections of early printed Gaelic materials: the MacCormaig Collection, Celtica Collection, Rankin Collection and Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Collection. These Special Collections currently total approximately 4,500 volumes, with new acquisitions being added through donations and purchase. These books date from the 17th century onwards and cover Gaelic, Celtic Studies and Highland social history and include rare and unique items, some of which are previously unrecorded. The historical significance of the material, its rarity and the quality of the books, make it an important part of the nation's documentary record. The Collections are a valuable resource for researchers nationally and internationally.
The Celtica Collection: amounting to over 1,500 items, represents the scholarly and discriminating long term acquisition of Celtic Studies material by a 19th Century gentleman scholar, Sir Robert Gordon of Letterfourie (1824-1908). On his death, the Collection was bequeathed to Fort Augustus Abbey, Inverness-shire and remained there until the Abbey Library was auctioned in 1999.
The MacCormick Collection: the life's work of the pre-eminent Gaelic bookseller and collector, Donald MacCormick (North Uist/ Edinburgh), is one of the finest collections of early printed Gaelic materials in existence. The Collection totals in excess of 1 800 volumes. It contains material from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries and covers an impressive range of subject matter including, poetry, religion, travelers' accounts, destitution, crofting, emigration, St Kilda, and many other topics relating to Highland social history.
The Professor Robert Rankin Collection: Professor Robert A. Rankin (1915-2001) was Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at the University of Glasgow from 1954-82. He was a distinguished scholar with a passionate interest in Gaelic language, poetry and music. He wrote a definitive paper, published in the Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Glasgow(1948), on the seventeenth century Gaelic poem Òran na Comhachag, and his research papers connected with this work form part of the collection of Professor Rankin's Gaelic books and papers which were gifted to the Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Library in 2001. The collection also comprises approximately two hundred books, some of which date back to the 18th century.
The Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Collection: The Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Collection comprises an important and valuable collection of antiquarian books, some of which were part of the Library's founding collection of 150 Gaelic texts in 1976. The collection continues to grow through purchase and generous donations from individuals and institutions.
Mac-Talla ("Echo") was the name of a Canadian Gaelic newspaper/magazine published weekly - latterly bi-weekly - in Sydney, Nova Scotia, between May 28, 1892, and June 24, 1904, around 540 issues in all. A digitised version is available here.
The Library holds a sizeable collection of historic 78-rpm recordings of Gaelic singers and musicians gifted from the archives of the BBC in Glasgow.