The Leeds Library is a wonderful mix of the old and the new located at the very heart of a busy shopping centre.
It was founded in 1768 as a proprietary subscription library and is now the oldest surviving example of this sort of library in the British Isles. It boasts Joseph Priestley (1733-1804) as one of its original subscribers. The collections are particularly rich in travel, topography, biography, history and literature. There are long runs of periodicals, popular novels, children’s books and Civil War pamphlets and Reformation Tracts. About 1,500 new books and audio/visual items are added every year most of which are recommended by the members. A large proportion of the Library’s holdings is available for loan to its members. The Library became a charity on 1 July 2008.
2018 was our 250th year and alongside a year long programme of events, we celebrated this milestone anniversary with a Dinner at the Queen’s Hotel on Friday 21st September. Our guest speaker was the renowned writer and poet, Ian McMillan. We also held a 3 day academic conference which attracted delegates and speakers from all over the world.
In addition, we have published a commemorative book that looks at how The Leeds Library, the country’s oldest subscription library of its type, has grown and prospered since its beginnings in 1768. Through the Pages, 250 Years of The Leeds Library, costs £30.00 and can be ordered using the form here.