10 stunning British libraries every bibliophile needs to visit

Preston's Harris Museum and Library
Preston's Harris Museum and Library
Share this article

We may be addicted to technology, but you can’t beat curling up with a good book now and again.

The country is home to many stunningly unique libraries, full of beautiful architecture, and packed to the brim with interesting reads.

If you’re a true book lover, here are 10 you need to visit before you die.

The Bodleian Library, Oxford

Oxford’s Bodleian Library opened in 1602, and is one of the oldest in the world.

It is renowned for its impressive gothic architecture and staggering collection of literary treasures, which includes more than 12 million printed items.

In recent years, the library gained newfound notoriety, thanks to the Harry Potter film franchise, which turned some of its buildings into the Hogwarts library and hospital wing.

Visit: University of Oxford, Broad Street, Oxford, OX1 3BG

Harris Library, Preston

The Harris Museum which houses Preston City's Public Library is a Grade I listed museum building, and was officially opened in 1893.

The Museum is also home to collections of fine art, decorative art, costume, textiles and history including collections on archaeology and local history. The museum has a permanent history gallery called Discover Preston.

Visit: Market St, Preston PR1 2PP

Chetham’s Library, Manchester

As the oldest public library in the English-speaking world, this beautiful medieval library is steeped in literary history, and holds more than 120,000 texts within its 17th century walls.

Chetham’s also served as a meeting place for acclaimed philosopher, Karl Marx, who began writing The Communist Manifesto there, alongside Friedrich Engels.

Visit: Long Millgate, Manchester, M3 1SB

Signet Library, Edinburgh

While still a working law library, the Signet Library is perhaps now better known as an events space, serving as an elegant location for weddings, or indulgent afternoon teas.

Famously dubbed “the finest drawing room in Europe” by King George IV, it is still quite the venue to behold.

Visit: Parliament Square, Edinburgh, EH1 1RF

The Chained Library, Hereford

A unique treasure among Britain’s reading rooms, Hereford Cathedral’s Chained Library is the largest surviving library of its kind, with a striking collection of books secured to the shelves by chains.

Around 1,500 books are displayed in the chamber, dating from the year 800 to the early 19th century.

Visit: Hereford Cathedral, 5 College Cloisters, Cathedral Close, Hereford, HR1 2NG

The Library of Birmingham

Impressive both inside and out, the Library of Birmingham houses a huge collection of archives, photography and rare books.

Far from old fashioned, the grand public venue also features a state-of-the-art gallery space, a studio theatre, an outdoor amphitheatre, and is home to the British Film Institute Mediatheque.

Visit: Centenary Square, Broad Street, Birmingham, B1 2ND

The John Rylands Library, Manchester

The neo-gothic architecture of this striking university library makes it one of Manchester’s most iconic buildings.

Its intricate alcoves, vaulted ceilings and ornate balconies took 10 years to construct.

Visit: 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH

Liverpool Central Library

Following a renovation in 2013, Liverpool’s impressive Central Library now perfectly blends the classic with the contemporary, with its striking open atrium, rooftop terrace, and cosy traditional reading rooms.

Visit: William Brown Street, Liverpool, L3 8EW

The British Library, London

Holding more than 150 million items which are displayed over 625km of shelves, The British Library was the largest public building constructed in the 20th century, and houses more books than any person could ever hope to read.

Spanning 112,000 square metres and spread across 14 floors, you could lose more than a day or two getting lost here.

Visit: 96 Euston Road, Kings Cross, London, NW1 2DB

Sir Duncan Rice Library, Aberdeen

Inspired by the ice and light of the north, this giant glass cube-shaped library has become an iconic part of Aberdeen’s skyline.

Its striking exterior was designed by Danish architects, Schmidt Hammer Lassen. Inside there are more than 1,200 study spaces, a gallery, events and exhibition spaces, and over a quarter of a million books and manuscripts.

Visit: University of Aberdeen, Bedford Road, Aberdeen, AB24 3AA

Originally published on our sister title, iNews [https://inews.co.uk/essentials/culture/books/uk-libraries-need-visit/]