The Lit & Phil – Newcastle

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Last week, me and my partner took an over night trip to Newcastle. I’d been wanting somewhere semi-new (I’ve been before) to explore and to get away from our city for a while. Newcastle seemed like a good option, with it’s museum options, shops and historic places to visit.

One of the things we make sure to do when visiting a new city is charity shop. Working in a charity shop myself, i love looking at the book selections in other charity shops (and so does he) and i have found myself looking at the clothing a lot more in the recent months.

Newcastle has a plethora of charity shops, far more than i thought it did actually, and this made for a very relaxed shopping day on our first day there. We spent the afternoon in and out of charity shops, in the gallery and eating vegan pizza. It was the perfect day. In the end i bought no books on this first outing (and only one book in total the whole trip!) but my partner bought quite a few and seemed happy with the choice in the city.

On our second day we chose to do some of the more touristy things. We visited the castle, hit a few of the museums and when he suggested the Lit & Phil, i couldn’t have been more excited. I love a library, and honestly considering we’re both semi big readers we probably don’t make the effort to visit more of them together.

The Lit & Phil is the largest independent library outside of London, and in Newcastle has around 2,000 members. The society was founded in 1793 as a ‘conversation club’ for an annual subscription. The building itself is public so allows anyone to go in and wander, look at the books and marvel at the most incredible interior. It is situated pretty close to the train station in Newcastle so if you ever find yourself near it, it’s definitely worth a look. I was in awe of this place and it has quickly made it to the top of my favourite libraries list.

I would have loved a little more time to fully explore the titles in here, but to experience it was great enough. The building itself is stunning and being surrounded by so many books made my heart very happy. The bottom floor is more fiction or non-fiction, including kids books that are available for loan. The upper floor is reference books, books that are much older and there is a separate room for a music collection.

Over everything, i was so impressed with the collection they seemed to have in realistically a small space. The rooms themselves are not huge, as you can imagine some libraries are, so to have this many books and this large a collection on all kinds of subjects completely stunned me. We found a section on mind reading that i particularly enjoyed looking at the book titles of.

I cannot imagine what it’s like to have a membership to this place and get to explore the contents of the shelves whenever you please. The atmosphere is so relaxing and the volunteers there are ready to answer any questions you may have at any point. They were all so lovely and welcoming.

Newcastle was more than i ever hoped it would be as a city. Bad weather, but great food, great places to visit and some excellent engines in the Discovery Museum. However there were very few times that i was more content than i was in the Lit & Phil. Although libraries in Manchester are great, and bit and have excellent buildings to visit, they don’t have the homeliness or the collections that Newcastle do.

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