The Leeds Library archive is in the process of being digitised.  Please see below for a small selection from our archive.

It is our aim to continue the digitisation project of the archive, both as a method of digital preservation and as a way of making it available to a wider audience. The material which we sent to be digitised at the British Library at Boston Spa was made up of a selection of different dates and formats, we hope to put more images up for you to view as this process continues.

A short history and brief summary of contents will also be appearing in the New Year.

List of first members from the 1768 minute book.

This is an extract from the 1768 Minute book, Joseph Priestley’s signature can be seen at Share number 4


Leeds Library – Minutes from the first meeting dated 15th August 1768.

The first meeting was held on the 15th August 1768. Joseph Priestley was elected secretary at the 2nd meeting at the beginning of September. The 19th September saw the first meeting of the newly formed committee and on 17th October it was agreed the Library would open on ‘Tuesday the 1st of November next’ which is our official opening date!!


Leeds Library – list of books from the 1768 catalogue.

This extract shows only the catalogue of books, the complete volume also contains the library rules and list of proprietors.


Receipts for the 1808 chairs and clock bought in 1821.

Of the original chairs only 12 now remain in the library and they are still in use today! The clock currently resides in the Main Room next to the library counter.


Extract from the 1854 Annual Report.

This is the earliest surviving annual report for the library and it is also interesting in that we learn that this is the year the library decided to utilise Mudie’s Select Library. It did this to supplement the numbers of books required by members that the library did not wish to clutter the shelves up with, which gives us an insight into the reading habits of the proprietors at the time. The decision was made by the library to stay open until 8pm in the evening and lighting had been installed (see the sunlight gas lamps still in situ in the Main Room) there were also plans for heating the building using hot water apparatus and pure air.


Selection of miscellaneous material 1800.

This selection is only a fraction of the surviving early material. The library archive does have earlier material which will be sent for digitisation in the future. Sadly there is little correspondence surviving and the majority of the items are for bills paid.

Note the address of Thomas Gill, some library members may remember the former name of our newsletter as ‘The Dial’ and this is where the name originated from.

Events at The Leeds Library

Yorkshire Foundation Cricket Archive - Brian Close Collection

Tuesday 29th May,
12:30 to 13:30

A talk about the recently purchased archive of Yorkshire and England Cricketer Brian Close, by Leeds Library member Brian Sanderson. This is a FREE event. more...

Charlotte Brontë in Brussels

Thursday 7th June,
19:30 to 21:30

Headingley LitFest An ‘In Between the Lines’ event Charlotte Brontë in Brussels Helen MacEwan will give an illustrated talk on her recent publication Through Belgian Eyes: Charlotte Brontë’s more...

The Leeds Library Members' Film Club (RW2018)

Saturday 9th June,
13:15 to 16:00

PLEASE NOTE - CHANGE OF DATE!! Members' Film Club: The W&H Season Details are only available in the library. £4.00 including refreshments SORRY - LEEDS LIBRARY MEMBERS ONLY! more...

Tour of the Leeds Library

Wednesday 13th June,
10:30 to 11:30

Visit the historic Leeds Library. The oldest surviving library of its kind in the UK. All welcome but booking essential. more...