Page Turner – The most impressive libraries in the UK — AD


Sick of staring at screens, and looking for a good place to dive into a book? For the British bookworms among us, read between the lines and check out this list, detailing some of the most impressive libraries in the UK. 


The John Rylands Library

A free to visit public library that is frequented by students from the University of Manchester (eventually merging with the university in recent years), the John Rylands Library is as much of a slice of the past and museum as it is a library. Originally opened in 1900 in dedication to John Rylands, the area was rejuvenated and re-opened in 2007, retaining much of its heritage and displaying exhibition pieces for those interested in learning about the city’s past.

A Grade 1 listed building in Manchester, the John Rylands library looks and feels like something out of a period drama. If you’re still bitter about not receiving your invite to Hogwarts, then this will make a nice alternative, capturing the same vibe with its ornate interior. They even sell quills in the gift shop.

Liverpool Central Library

Another huge library in the north of England, Liverpool’s Central Library is a great free destination to visit if exploring the city. The library offers a great blend between old and new, with both modern and traditional rooms depending on what you’re looking for. There is even a rooftop terrace offering views of the city and its surrounding points of interest.

Again, it will come as no surprise that some of the best libraries in the country come from known university towns and cities, as of course the two are interlinked. Students historically have to bury themselves in an abundance of books dependent on their course syllabus, and many often spend late-nights studying in their local libraries.

In Liverpool, the two university libraries, the Harold Cohen and Sydney Jones, are popular, open-all-hours locations for work, and will continue to grow in popularity as the city does. Those searching for accommodation in the knowledge quarter will often look to their prospective apartment’s proximity to facilities, and many new build apartments from companies such as RWinvest are popping up at vantage points around the city, on the doorstep for students. As a result, the popularity of these libraries, despite electronic copies becoming increasingly common on courses, will not falter in the coming years.

Library of Birmingham

In contrast to many of the other historic libraries on this list and around the country, Birmingham’s city library has a distinctive, postmodern exterior, making it a well-known and popular landmark in the city. In fact, it has become one of the most popular attractions not just in the city it resides in, but within the country as a whole. The library was opened in 2013, costing around £189 million, and by 2014 it broke the top ten list for the most popular visitor attractions in the UK. 

Birmingham library’s impressive design isn’t all it has to offer however, so I suppose do judge a book by its cover. Inside you’ll find a plethora of, as expected, books, around a million to be precise. Even if you’re a fast reader, that’s sure to keep you occupied.

The British Library

It wouldn’t be a list of the greatest British libraries without, well, the British Library. Located in the heart of London, the facility is a figurehead and leading influence in its field, much like the capital city itself. The library also holds in its possession some invaluable historic documents, and original versions of manuscripts and books that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. One notable piece in their possession is an original Lewis Carroll manuscript of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, given to the British Library by America as thanks for their heroic effort during World War II. With an estimated 170-200 million items catalogued, the British Library is the biggest in the entire world.

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