Libraries in Brighton
Brighton & Hove
Residents and visitors are always welcome to scour through the archives and specialist collections of rare books in Brighton’s network of libraries, which remain integral to community engagement and cultural enrichment.
You may want to throw your perception of what a library is out of the window to consider the cultural and historical significance of Brighton’s main libraries and the leisure and entertainment opportunities they provide.
Public access to The University of Brighton Library and The University of Sussex Library is limited to non-students/alumni. For the public libraries and smaller community libraries, all members of the public are eligible for free memberships. Whether you want to learn, immerse yourself in culture, utilise library services and resources, imbibe in some quiet time or socialise with other history buffs, there’s a library in Brighton for you.
Brighton Central Library, located close to the Royal Pavilion, acts as the principal public library; the collection of resources in the modern and state-of-the-art building is unrivalled in size across the Brighton & Hove network of libraries.
If you are mostly interested in learning about the history of Brighton and Hove, The Keep hosts a selection of historical archives which narrate the history of Brighton and the surrounding areas.
Brighton & Hove Libraries
Brighton is home to 13 public libraries, several libraries which predominantly serve university and college students, and two speciality libraries, bringing the total to 20 libraries, not including the community educational hubs dotted across Brighton and Hove.
The main public libraries include:
Brighton Central Library
In its prime location, Brighton Central Library is often the library of choice for residents and visitors. Everyone is free to browse the general collection of fiction and non-fiction books, e-books, and specialist collections, which provide a deeper insight into Brighton’s heritage.
The modernist building lets in plenty of natural light to create a welcoming atmosphere where you are free to study or work. To make the building a vibrant centre of culture, there is always a roster of upcoming talks, workshops, and exhibitions to promote learning and interaction.
Architecturally, the difference between Brighton Central Library and Hove Library is night and day. The historic Grade-II listed building has been revered and cherished as a cultural landmark since its 1908 opening. Like many public libraries, there is a rich selection of reference materials and books for all ages, in addition to computing services.
If you don’t like to read solo, there are reading groups for children and adults, which are hosted within the library around the various other events, planned to establish the building as a focal point for members of the Hove Community.
Typically, libraries operate in a run-of-the-mill way. If there is any exception to this rule, it is Whitehawk Library, which may not be able to boast a central location, but what it lacks in easy access for visitors and tourists, it makes up for in facilities.
In addition to the collection of books, CDs, and DVDs, Whitehawk Library has one of the best cafes – the lattes and pastries are highly recommended. Furthermore, there is an outdoor play area to keep children entertained, and local musicians are free to use the recording studio space.
List of Libraries in Brighton & Hove
The university libraries which predominantly serve students include:
While some exceptions can be made to permit public membership and entry to university and college libraries, if you are not currently a student at the library the institution belongs to, it is unlikely that you will be free to browse them at your leisure.
Specialist Libraries Include:
For specifics about rare items in the collections of Libraries in Brighton, you will need to consult the libraries directly. However, the larger libraries in the network are the ones most likely to be home to rare manuscripts and books, archives of notable residents, rare art prints, old periodicals and newspapers, oral histories, and LGBT+ archives.
Services and Facilities
Libraries have long since expanded their services and facilities beyond book borrowing, printing, and access to the Internet. They have moved with the digital times to provide access to a dynamic array of digital resources, provided spaces to study and work in, and arranged workshops, classes, events, and activities for all age groups.
Libraries have also become a vital hub for children’s services, special needs services, and collaborative initiatives. For example, many of the libraries in Brighton are dedicated to ensuring everyone has access to educational materials by providing audiobooks, large print books and braille resources.
Plan Your Visit
Opening hours vary and may be affected by public holidays, such as bank holidays. To plan your visit, head to the Brighton & Hove Libraries website, where you will find accurate information on opening times, accessibility, details on how to join the library network, and a full list of library events, including activities, exhibitions, book groups and reading challenges. Alternatively, you can consult the website of each institution, where you will also find access to digital resources (if available).