The Lit & Phil has been here since 1825, have you been in yet?

The Lit & Phil (or Literary and Philosophical Society) is the largest independent library outside London, housing over 160,000 books.

We do not JUST have old books - over 1000 books are added to the collection each year and crime fiction is very popular. But, we do have old books too, the oldest dates back to 1504.

You do NOT have to be a member to come in. Please come in and have a look around the library. If you want to take books out then you do need to join.

A wide selection of current fiction and non-fiction can be found alongside historical collections covering every field of interest.

Our Grade II* listed building was opened in 1825 and the magnificent reading rooms remain largely unchanged. Our collection is coupled with an extensive set of periodicals, providing an exceptional resource for both general reader and academic researcher.

In addition to the library, the Society hosts a wide range of events including book launches, concerts, lectures, readings and workshops that cover a variety of topics and issues. Both members and non-members are welcome to attend these events.







What's On At The Lit And Phil

  • Feb Monday 15th 18:00
    The story of how we learnt to solve equations – and how it all fell apart FREE
  • Feb Wednesday 17th 10:30
    Tour of the Lit & Phil FREE
  • Feb Wednesday 17th 18:00
    'Midwifery in the Nineteenth Century: Man, Microbes and Misrepresentation' FREE
  • Feb Friday 19th 20:00
    Jarman in Pieces by Project Adorno FREE
  • Feb Saturday 20th 10:00
    Writing for Wellbeing Workshop £25
  • Feb Monday 22nd 19:00
    Ear Training with Paul Edis FREE

What's on this month

Why not hire The Lit & Phil?

Seat 20 in the stunning Committee Room or plan an event in the Library (or something inbetween). The Lit & Phil is ideal for your meeting, training or party and is perfectly located next to the station.


Read More

As a member you can borrow most books published after 1850 (but not all at once). You can also access wi-fi in the Library and benefit from priority booking at some events. By joining the Lit & Phil, you are also supporting this wonderful institution, so thank you!

Online Catalogue

Visit Now


 Check if we have that book you've been looking for. You don't need to be a member to search the catalogue; search by title, author, keyword or subject. Members can then reserve the book to collect later.