The Most Beautiful Libraries In Leeds

Photo of Annie Foyster
4 January 2017

Leeds is home to some spectacularly beautiful libraries that pay homage to the cities cultural past. We take a look at the top five to explore what makes these places so uniquely special.

Parkinson Building | ©Tim Green/WikiCommons

Brotherton Library

The Brotherton is part of Leeds University but that doesn’t make it exclusively for students. It would be a shame to feel excluded as The Brotherton is hands down one of the most beautiful building in Leeds. The main room is huge and circular with a spectacular domed ceiling, old stonework and ancient wooden desks. It is attached to the equally historic and spectacular Parkinson Building that is home to the iconic clock tower that is an integral part of the city skyline. The Brotherton was created in 1936 and is a Grade 2 listed Beaux Arts building that is the pride and joy of the University. You can easily get a day pass which gives you access to thousands of books including ancient manuscripts and with plenty of cosy little nooks and crannies this is definitely a great way to pass a lazy day.

Opening hours here

Address: The University of Leeds, Woodhouse Ln, Leeds, West Yorkshire LS2 9JT

Central Library | ©

Leeds Central Library

The Leeds Central Library is located right next to the Town Hall and makes up part of the spectacular architecture that gives the city center it’s historical feel. The building is Grade 2 listed and was completed in 1884. The opening was a spectacular event and took place in The Reading Room, known more commonly now as The Tiled Hall. The ceiling of The Tiled Hall is intricately and ornately decorated in a tiled mosaic pattern. The room now is home to The Tiled Hall cafe which is a great coffee spot in it’s own right. If you have studying to do then this is the spot as the old woods and high ceilings create a calming relaxing atmosphere.

Opening hours: Mon to Weds 9am to 7pm, Thurs 9am – 6pm, Fri 9am – 5pm, Sat 10am – 5pm, Sun 11am – 3pm

Address and telephone: Calverley St, Leeds LS1 3AB, 0113 247 6016

The Leeds Library | ©Betty Longbottom/geograph

The Leeds Library

Less well known than The Central Library, The Leeds Library is another historical little gem in the city center. It is the oldest surviving subscription library in the UK and is proud of it’s history. Opening in 1768 the interior has stuck as closely to the original design as possible. The dark woods and walls of books are exactly what you want in a library, making it cosy relaxing and inviting. It is a Grade 2 listed Greek Revival building and is worth a visit just to soak up the lovely architecture let alone take advantage of the wide selection of available titles.

Opening hours: Mon, Weds and Fri 9am – 5pm, Tues 9am – 6pm, Thurs 9am – 7pm, Sat 9;30 am – 1pm, Sun closed

Address and telephone: 18 Commercial St, Leeds LS1 6AL, 0113 245 3071

James Graham Building | ©Mtaylor848/WikiCommons

James Graham Building

The Headingly campus library for Leeds Beckett students is located in the outstandingly beautiful James Graham Building. Again it may be a student library but that does not make it exclusively for students. Located in over three acres of parkland this Grade 2 listed building is a must visit if you are in the surrounding area. Save this for a sunny day to make the most of the beautiful greenery which allows you to view the building in it’s spectacular entirety. The James Graham Building is a hidden gem which springs up out of the surrounding residential area. It is also worth visiting the great hall to check out the spectacular windows and wood paneling.

Address: James Graham, Headingley Campus, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS16 5LF

Roger Steven | ©Mtaylor848/WikiCommons

Edward Boyle Library

It’s a controversial choice as The Edward Boyle is in no way classically beautiful. In fact it is considered ugly by a lot of the students who frequent it and visitors to the university. Yet it has made this list because the building is architecturally fascinating and reminiscent of it’s era. Architects Chamberlain, Bowell and Bon were commissioned to structure a building to accommodate the huge amounts of students now being admitted to the university post second world war. The exposed concrete and harsh bare feel is reminiscent of The Barbican in London and is not exactly easy on the eye. Yet it is has an interesting history and a beauty in it’s own right which is why it is now a grade 2 listed building. The interior isn’t exactly inviting but it’s a great place to check out perhaps before heading to The Brotherton.

Opening hours here

Address and telephone: Woodhouse Ln, Leeds, West Yorkshire LS2 9JT, 0113 343 5663

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