The Leeds Library

Contact Details:

18 Commercial Street, Leeds, LS1 6AL
[email protected]

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  • Opening Hours


    10:00 - 17:00


    10:00 - 18:00


    10:00 - 18:00


    10:00 - 19:00


    10:00 - 17:00


    10:00 - 16:00


    Closed all day

The Leeds Library

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.

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.