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 our Members.  A large proportion of the Library’s holdings is available for loan to Members. The Library became a charity on 1 July 2008.

If you would like to become a Member, we offer Individual, Joint, Family, Student and Young Person memberships. For the book and heritage lovers in your life, we also offer Gift Membership to the Library, a unique gift that lasts all year round. For more information on joining us, click here.

2018 was our 250th year and alongside a year long programme of events, we celebrated this milestone anniversary with a Dinner, held a 3 day academic conference which attracted delegates and speakers from all over the world and 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.




Events at The Leeds Library

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Thoresby Society Lecture: Victorian Chatelaine

November 18 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

All welcome! Victorian Chatelaine: Emily Meynell Ingram of Hoar Cross and Temple Newsam. James Lomax, author and former Curator at Temple Newsam, will give an illustrated talk. This is a FREE event but booking is essential.  

A talk from Paul Worsley QC

November 19 @ 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

His Honour Judge Paul Worsley QC retired in 2017 as a Senior Judge at the Old Bailey and lives in North Yorkshire. His career, which spans forty-five years in the Criminal Law, began in 1970 after reading Law at Oxford University. He first practised at the Bar from Chambers in Leeds, appearing in many murder cases, often characterised by the rural area in which the crimes took place. In his first such case, when he was still a Junior, he…

The Thoresby Society: A series of Lunch-time Lectures at The Leeds Library.

November 20 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

All welcome! Revd. Dr. Roy Yates will provide a talk on 'Lost Churches of Leeds 1800-1900' This is a FREE event but booking is essential.  

Chelping @ The Leeds Library

November 20 @ 7:30 pm - 10:00 pm

November's Chelping spoken word night will feature sets from Molly Naylor and Joe Williams, plus open mic slots. Tickets are £6.

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