Liverpool Central Library

Coordinates: 53°24′35″N 2°58′51″W / 53.4098°N 2.9807°W / 53.4098; -2.9807
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Liverpool Central Library
Liverpool Central Library 19 May 2013 (5).jpg
LocationUnited Kingdom
Established1860 (1860)

Liverpool Central Library is the largest of the 22 libraries in Liverpool, England, situated in the centre of the city.


The Picton Reading Room, an annex of the library itself

The library is located in several adjoining historic buildings on William Brown Street. Its first building was the William Brown Library and Museum building which was completed in 1860 to the designs of John Weightman Surveyor to Liverpool Corporation, (not to be confused with his near contemporary John Grey Weightman)[1] and which it has always shared with the city's museum, now known as World Museum Liverpool. The library was then extended further to the right with the addition in 1879 of the Picton Reading Room[2] and to the rear with the Hornby Library in 1906. All three of these are Grade II* listed buildings and are built in a classical style similar to other buildings on the street.

Liverpool Central Library during rebuild
Interior view of the library prior to its 2013 refurbishment

Previous to the creation of this public library was England's first subscription library (1758-1942), latterly known as The Lyceum, Liverpool, but often referred to as the Liverpool Library.

750,000 people visited the museum in 2017. In 2018, the library won The Bookseller’s Library of the Year Award.[3]


In May 2008 it was announced that some of the complex of buildings that hold the Central Library were to be demolished and replaced with modern buildings suitable for use with modern IT services. The historic buildings in the complex would be refurbished to provide modern facilities and was designed by the Architects Austin-Smith:Lord.[4] In October 2009 the proposed rebuild was shown to the public.[5]

The main library building on William Brown Street closed on 23 July 2010, while closed, a temporary service operated from next door, on the second floor of Liverpool World Museum.[6] The refurbished building features a central atrium, with a series of open-plan floors. The atrium is topped with a glass dome, and the building has a roof terrace, with views out over the city centre. It re-opened to the public on Friday 17 May 2013.[7] At the entrance to the library is a 72 foot granite walkway, inlaid with the titles of literary classics. The titles contain a riddle, a series of letters picked out in red which spell out the title of a small but eye-catching item in the library's collection. The riddle was included to provoke the interest of visitors, and was presented as a competition at the museum's re-opening. 500 people took part, with 200 solving the riddle, and three winners were chosen in October 2013, five months after opening. The library has not revealed the answer to the riddle, in order to preserve the puzzle for future visitors.[8][9]

Library group[edit]

It is a member of the Libraries Together: Liverpool Learning Partnership (evolved from Liverpool Libraries Group) which formed in 1990. Under which, a registered reader at any of the member libraries can have access rights to the other libraries within the partnership.[10]



  1. ^ "The Brown Testimonial". Evening Mail. England. 19 October 1860. Retrieved 3 March 2017 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  2. ^ "Liverpool Central Library: The "wow factor"".
  3. ^ "Liverpool Central Library wins The Bookseller's Library of the Year Award 2018 - Liverpool Express". Liverpool Express. 18 July 2018. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  4. ^ "£50m rebuild for Liverpool's Central Library". Liverpool Echo. 16 May 2008. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  5. ^ "£50m transformation for Liverpool's Central Library (VIDEO)". Liverpool Echo. 30 October 2009. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  6. ^ "Libraries and archives". Liverpool City Council. 23 July 2010. Archived from the original on 7 September 2010. Retrieved 10 August 2010.
  7. ^ "Liverpool's Central Library reopens after £50m facelift". BBC News. 17 May 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  8. ^ Literary detectives uncover library secret BBC News 23 October 2013; retrieved 11 May 2019
  9. ^ Liverpool Central Library Entrance Riddle at; retrieved 11 May 2019
  10. ^ "About". Liverpool Libraries Together. Retrieved 22 November 2015.

External links[edit]

53°24′35″N 2°58′51″W / 53.4098°N 2.9807°W / 53.4098; -2.9807