the leeds librARY

The Old Librarian's Office at the Leeds Library

The Old Librarian's Office at the Leeds Library

The Leeds Library founded 1768

2017 Annual Subscription:

  • Individual (£120) Adult aged 26 years and over
  • Couple (£170) Two adults living at the same address aged 26 years and over
  • Family (£190) Two adults living at the same address aged 26 years and over plus two children aged under 18 and living at the same address
  • Young Person (£60) Adult aged 18-25 years
  • Additional 2 children on ANY membership category (£20)
  • Corporate - details/price on application

Apply online here.


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 became a charity on 1 July 2008.


There is a wide-ranging modern lending collection of books, magazines and audio/visual items to which about 1500 additions are made each year. A historic collection of over 140,000 books is particularly strong in travel, biography, history and literature. There are also long runs of periodicals, popular novels and children's books and special collections of Civil War pamphlets and Reformation Tracts. A collection of books on science is currently being added to the library's online catalogue.


Grade II* listed 1808 Greek Revival building by Thomas Johnson with major 1880-81 extension to the rear by Thomas Ambler.

Contact information

18 Commercial Street, Leeds LS1 6AL
tel: 01132 453 071 / email:

Open Monday-Friday 9.00-17.00, Saturday 9.30-13.00

Individual researchers by prior appointment (please bring a letter of introduction from an appropriate institution or a professional person); group visits by arrangement, participation in Heritage Open Days in September.



Charitable company no. 1114386
Registered company number: 5577905

The Leeds Library newsletter - Speaks Volumes