Believe it or not, The Leeds Library at 18 Commercial Street will celebrate its 250th anniversary in 2018, and already it has started planning for this remarkable event. An international conference is on the cards, together with a civic reception and the publication of a book of essays.
Despite its longevity, the library remains undiscovered by a huge number of people in Leeds – it is possibly the city’s best kept secret. Dating from 1768, it is the oldest surviving subscription library of its type in the UK. Located in a beautiful building, it has an absolutely stunning collection of books, some dating back to the 15th Century. There are some 80,000 books in its historic collection (before 1901), and 140,000 items in all.
The Leeds Library also runs a programme of lectures, exhibitions, films and other heritage and cultural events, all of which are open to the public. On Thursday 19th December Michael Meadowcroft presents a talk on Herbert Gladstone – the last in a sixth series of lectures on Leeds politicians.
The Library has embarked on an ambitious development programme to ensure the future of the building and its collections, improve facilities and provide space for education programmes. It also aims to have its complete catalogue available on the internet.
It is free to visit the Leeds Library, but non members should make an appointment and will be given a guided tour.
The Leeds Library is open Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm and Saturday 9.30am – 1pm. On the first Wednesday of the month they open from 10am. Researchers should make an appointment at least 48 hours in advance to consult a particular item.
“The Leeds Library is a wonderful haven with a stunning collection of books. If you haven’t visited it, then give yourself a treat.” Kay Mellor, writer and actress
“An oasis of peace in the heart of Leeds, crammed with wonderful books in a building which Oxbridge colleges would die for!” Martin Wainwright, Northern Editor, The Guardian