Public libraries aren’t generally significant tourist traps, but lovers of architecture, peaceful reading rooms and that unmistakable smell of well-thumbed literature should try to experience Leeds’ Central Library at least once. You’ll need a lending card to take out books or use the computers, but simply curious visitors can wander undisturbed and take in the Victorian Grade II-listed grandiose building design.
Hewn from Yorkshire stone, the proud building shares its premises with both the town hall and the art gallery, providing a hub of information, culture, history and beauty in the centre of the city. If you follow the smell of freshly brewed coffee, you’ll find that the library allows access to the highly rated Tiled Hall Café, with its walls clad in exotic mosaics, extensive seating area and wide selection of cakes, lunch time snacks and speciality teas.
As well as the usual shelves of fiction and facts, there’s also a local and family history section, and well as a fascinating collection of impossibly rare antiquarian texts, including 600 early gardening books, published between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries, plus theological tomes and military accounts.
The library may be striking from the outside but inside it is rather stunning, with 400 million year-old coral staircase pillars, Devonian marble seats, alabaster doorways, terracotta archways and busts of Shakespeare, Lamb and Chaucer to be marvelled at.