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Lifelong Libraries - professions and organisations

National LIbraries

The British Library is the national library with its main collections and Reading Rooms near Euston Station in London: see the "Join" pages for information about membership.

The National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh is Scotland's largest library and the world centre for the study of Scotland and the Scots.

The  National Library of Wales  in Aberystwyth holds over  over 6.5 million books and periodicals, and the largest collections of archives, portraits, maps and photographic images in Wales.

The National Library of Ireland  is in Dublin.

The National Art Library is located in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London

Public Libraries

Public Libraries are open to everyone and basic services are free. Many of the largest ones such as The Library of Birmingham  or Manchester Central Library hold vast collections of books and archives on  a huge range of topics and give access to online resources and databases. Some library services run specialist Music, Law, or Business Libraries and some have merged with Advice Centres. Although most public libraries have suffered from cutbacks in funding over recent years they are still an amazing source of resources and advice, so why not check out what your local library service can offer? 

Independent Libraries

A handful of specialist and historic libraries have survived in towns and cities across the country ranging from the Birmingham and Midland Institute  to The London Library Find out more about these hidden gems at The Independent Libraries Association


Independent libraries occupy a unique place in the world’s cultural life. Rather than seeing independent libraries as niche or elitist, the Financial Times described the UK’s independent libraries as

‘havens of books, conversation and cultural events with histories stretching back centuries.’

Website of The Independent Libraries Association



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