ipswich institute reading room and library

Ipswich Institute Reading Room and Library founded 1824


The Ipswich Institute is as progressive now as when it was founded in 1824 - just nine years after the Battle of Waterloo! Dr. George Birkbeck's Mechanics' Institution was dedicated to making knowledge available to the 'artisans' of Ipswich and encouraging their general and vocational education.

Today as a registered educational charity the Institute is open to all who choose to join. Members come with a great variety of backgrounds and interests and all find something worth joining for - whether it be the library itself, the numerous leisure learning courses on offer, the educational lectures and trips, or the café and restaurant facilities. Through a link with the Association of Independent Libraries members are able to visit similar establishments across the United Kingdom. The Institute also gives financial support to a variety of local educational projects.

While the Ipswich Institute has a sense of pride in its long history, it continues to demonstrate a willingness to adapt to changing times and the wishes of its members. New members are sure of a warm welcome and wherever possible everything is done to cater for those who have special needs. Above all Institute membership engenders a sense of belonging - to an establishment that is not only an intriguing part of the town's history but also a refreshing antidote to today's busy and materialistic world.


The Institute’s library collection consists of over 10,000 items available for loan to members, including books, audio books and classical and jazz music cds. There is a strong emphasis on modern fiction, both general and crime, biography, literature and local history. New publications are added constantly and members’ requests are considered for purchase. Daily newspapers and a wide selection of current journals and magazines are always available for reading on the premises. Past issues can be borrowed or bought.


The Institute is the proud owner of two historic buildings in the heart of the town. The impressive vaulted building behind the shops in Tavern Street was bought for £1,000 in 1834 and still houses the well-stocked lending library. The elegant listed building known as The Admiral's House, close-by in Tower Street, was once occupied by Admiral Benjamin Page and visited by the Duke of Wellington. Bought by the Institute in 2001 it now houses an art centre, study rooms, a licensed restaurant and a comfortable coffee lounge.

Contact information

Hugh Pierce, General Manager
15 Tavern Street, Ipswich, Suffolk IP1 3AA
& Admiral's House, 13 Tower Street, Ipswich, Suffolk IP1 3BG
tel: 01473 253 992 / email: library@ipswichinstitute.org.uk

Monday-Friday 9.00-17.00, Saturday 9.00-16.00 (Closed Bank Holidays & Easter Saturday)

Visitor enquiries welcome.




Registered charity no. 304772

Contact Information