Remembering Barnbow during World War 1

This week we saw the return of a special item in our collections which had been out on loan to Lotherton Hall as part of their ‘Duty Calls’ exhibition. ‘Barnbow, No.1 (Leeds) National Filling Factory : a Short History and Record’ was compiled by R.H. Gummer, Chief Engineer in November 1918. The preface of the…

LGBT History Month and Goodbye Olympics

To commemorate February as LGBT Month and the end of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi we thought we’d delve deep into our Special Collections to bring back something from Russia with love. A French enlightenment writer, Voltaire’s 1763 ‘History of the Russian Empire under Peter the Great’ vol. 1 begins with the Preface: “Who…

Valentine’s Day Casanova

Looking for a scandalous love affair this Valentine’s Day?  Look no further than the Leeds Central Library Special Collections for ‘The Memoirs of Jacques Casanova written by himself now for the first time translated into English in twelve volumes’. Privately printed in 1894 the title page explains that ‘This Edition is strictly limited to 1000 numbered…

Alan Bennett on the Central Library

There is a romance to nostalgia. The fuzzy edges and dog-eared corners of our memories take us back to places we inhabited in our youth. Libraries are no different, especially when aged 129 years. Central Library holds many memories and not just those inside the books. In his 2011 ‘Libraries of a Lifetime’ article, author…

Welcome to The Secret Library

“I go into my library and all history unrolls before me.” Alexander Smith Welcome to The Secret Library, home to Leeds Libraries heritage blog.  We hope to bring you insights into the history and architecture of our 1884 Central Library building, a behind the scenes look at the Library and highlights from our Special Collections, including rare…