Celebrating 80 years of the Children’s Library

This year is the 80th year that the children of Leeds have had a ground floor library at Leeds Central Library. Until then the junior stock was part of the lending stock that was housed on the second floor, where the Art Library is today. In 1934 the Central Library had a refurbishment and the expanding lending stock was relocated to the ground floor. As part of this move a separate room was created as the Central Junior Library, which has stayed in various locations on the ground floor ever since.

Cross section showing the library in 1934 and in 2014
Cross section showing the library in 1934 and in 2014

The Central Junior Library also found a new home on the ground-floor and is proving much more convenient. A greatly admired feature in this room is the wall decoration, representing seventeenth century Leeds with typical local industries and costumes of the period, done with much skill and sense of colour by students of the Leeds College of Art.

Extract: Annual report of the libraries and arts committee to the council 

The star of the new junior department was the mural which was hand painted by art students from Leeds College of Art. It was mentioned and featured in several of the local newspapers; Yorkshire Post, Yorkshire Evening Post and Leeds Mercury.

Mural painted by students from Leeds College of Art
Mural painted by students from Leeds College of Art

An article in the Yorkshire Evening News 11/6/34 talks about the expansion and creation of the new Junior Library.

Innovation in Leeds Lending Library
Innovation in Leeds Lending Library, article Yorkshire Evening News

On it are painted typical figures of the past – a woman at a spinning wheel, the old pack horses, Matthew Murrays famous engine and a Yorkshire miner.

Leeds public Libraries 1931-1935 

Article, 'Holiday sacrificed'
Article, ‘Holiday sacrificed’

The last 80 years has seen massive social changes to the junior library with the way families use the Library service. Computers, tablets and mobile phones are such a big part of children’s lives and education in modern times and have a strong presence in our Children’s library today. But we still have a great passion for children’s books and that is why families love the Central Children’s Library as much today as they loved the Central Junior Library 80 years ago.

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