In celebration of our 250th Anniversary we have a very special programme of events. We have already held a number of major events to mark this milestone, but the Autumn programme promises some real surprises. This daring programme will bring to the city some of the best Library specific events that have taken place in the UK over the last 18 months and show the Leeds Library’s potential for becoming a leading space for cultural programming in the city.

A commemorative book, Through The Pages, will be published and launched on 14 September to coincide with our international academic conference, from 20th-22nd September, with speakers from over 13 countries, taking place at venues across the city. A celebration Dinner will be held at The Queens Hotel on Friday 21st September with the Bard of Barnsley himself, Ian McMillan, as guest speaker.

September will also see the launch of our Through The Pages Exhibition which will take visitors on a journey around the magical rooms of the Library with displays presenting the story of how the Library was founded and has thrived in the city over 250 years.

Carl Hutton, CEO of the Leeds Library, is keen that as many people as possible get the chance to find out, learn about and visit this true hidden gem in the midst of the city. He said, “Visitors to the exhibition will get to know our collections, artefacts and oddities as well as our resident ghost, Thomas Sternberg, a former Librarian, who walks the balconies of the Library at night. They will read members’ stories, learn about the building itself and the Library’s current work and plans for the future.   Parts of the library will be open to members of the public for the first time ever.   The exhibition is free and we hope that as many people as possible will visit us during this exciting time for the Library.”

The exhibition will run from Friday 14th September to Saturday 23rd November and will be open from Mon – Fri, 1-3pm ; Saturdays, 11am-1pm and Sundays, 11am- 3pm.

During October and November the Library will be staging a range of immersive theatrical experiences, including a unique presentation of Frankenstein (9th – 11th Oct) that will take audiences into all parts of the Library and its basement; a chance for participants to take part in The Hidden  (31st Oct- 3rd Nov) an interactive, immersive theatrical puzzle, fresh from its sell out run at the Edinburgh International Book Festival ; or join award winning poet Mark Pajak on a ghostly poetic walk (24th – 27th October) through the Library and streets of Leeds.

During the first two weeks of November, the Library will play host to The Things We Wouldn’t Otherwise Find, a theatrical performance written by Emma Adams and specially commissioned to mark the 250th Anniversary by The Leeds Playhouse in partnership with the Leeds Library and Leeds Libraries. 

Leeds Playhouse Artistic Director James Brining said: “We are thrilled to be working with The Leeds Library to celebrate their 250th anniversary. I’m delighted two Leeds organisations have collaborated by commissioning a brand new piece of work by a fantastic West Yorkshire writer, which both commemorates the legacy of The Leeds Library, and has sparked a brand new cultural partnership. It will be a privilege to see the production performed in such an historic space.”

Other significant events that will take place within the Library will include a performance of Wrong Un by Red Ladder Theatre on Sunday 11 November, a performance of L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato by Leeds Baroque on Sunday 28 October, its regular spoken word night, Chelping (12th Sept, 10th Oct28th Nov)  and Literary Salons (19th Oct14th Dec) curated and co-produced by Renaissance One.

The year will be brought to a close with a Festival of the Mind, a two week programme of events that will celebrate the spirit of Joseph Priestley, the first secretary of the Library with a programme of events focused on arts, science, faith, discussion and debate and linking in with Mill Hill Chapel, where Priestley was Preacher for several years.

Details of all our events can be found on our website’s events pages.

Supported by Arts@Leeds and Leeds City Council and the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society.


Events at The Leeds Library