The Lit & Phil is the largest independent library outside London, housing over 160,000 books.
Since opening in 1825, the Lit & Phil has welcomed thousands of people, witnessed ‘world firsts’ in innovation and grown a unique collection of books.
It’s now so much more than a library. Depending on who you ask, it’s an historic building, a refuge, a meeting place, office, theatre, lecture hall, performance space and of course, still an outstanding library. Not owned by Council or government, our independence means that we receive no regular funding, but also that we make our own decisions.
The Lit & Phil retains its mission: to educate the people of Newcastle and the surrounding area. There are currently around 2000 members, the highest figure for decades, a collection of over 160,000 volumes, an outstanding music library and a thriving events programme.
The Lit & Phil is a public building and everyone is welcome to use it. Come up the stairs and into the library. The staff are welcoming and first-time visitors are always impressed. There is usually a volunteer, ready to answer your questions or to show you around, just ask at the desk.
If you would like to start using the Lit & Phil regularly, or to borrow books, you would need to join, and we offer annual subscription rates within a variety of categories. We are always trying to recruit new members, as ths helps to secure our future. In addition to joining, there are many ways to support the Lit & Phil.
The Lit & Phil is building a collection and so it's rare that any books are disposed of. It's a general collection of carefully chosen books, with some stand out highlights.
The Children's Library
There is a cosy area in the middle of the library, just for children. The table and chairs are perfectly proportioned for slightly smaller people. Boxes are packed with picture books and shelves are full of books for older children.
Our Music Library
The music library holds an extensive collection of classical, jazz and folk and is building complete editions of works by a number of composers including Bach, Mozart, Berlioz and Handel.
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!
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.