Information Now

Libraries, reading and audio books

There are 14 Council libraries and 4 independent or specialist libraries in Newcastle.  Becoming a member of a Council library is free. See the list in the ‘useful organisations’ box at the bottom of this page.

You can join Newcastle Libraries online or by visiting any of the libraries.  You must take proof of your identity with you. You can manage your account online as well.

Newcastle Libraries Services

As well as lending books, most libraries now have the following services:

  • reading groups
  • newspapers and magazines to read
  • free internet access
  • photocopying, printing and fax services
  • a range of local community information
  • events and activities to connect people

Where is my nearest library?

For details of the location and opening times of your local library, contact Newcastle Libraries


Newcastle Libraries run a number of activities. From visits by authors, talking about their books to reading groups and knit and natter groups.   They also support digital learning which is run by Get Online Newcastle.

Reading groups

Reading groups are a great way to meet new people and discover new books including poetry, graphic novels and general fiction. Reading groups take place in libraries and other venues throughout the city. Groups meet monthly, select a book from the reading group list, read it at home, and then meet to discuss it at the following meeting.

To find a reading group, contact the Library

Shared reading groups take place regularly at the libraries. The small groups meet up to read aloud and talk about short stories, poems and novels. Contact Newcastle Libraries for more information.

Reading and Audio books

City Library currently uses BorrowBox which has mostly e-books plus some audiobooks. So if your group prefers reading e-books BorrowBox would probably be the best.

There is a section on the BorrowBox e-book homepage called Always available. For these titles Newcastle libraries has a special deal which means they get hundreds of copies for 3 months. These might be best for your reading group, as you are guaranteed everyone will be able to get a copy on time (as long as you read it in that 3-months window).

You will need your library ID card number.

Listening Books offer a wide range of audio books to download or on MP3CD available by post.

Home Delivery Service

Newcastle Libraries – Home Delivery Service is free and is available to anyone living in Newcastle who is unable to visit a library regularly because they are in ill health (either permanently or temporarily), or because they are caring for someone else.

They will visit every 4 weeks and can offer the following resources:

  • a large collection of books
  • books in large print and books on tape
  • community and welfare information
  • reading lamps
  • cassette players
  • memory boxes containing memorabilia, photographs, books and pamphlets to support reminiscence sessions

Internet access

Free internet access is available in every library in Newcastle. You will need to be a member of a library to use the service and you will be given a login number and password.

You will be able to use any library computer for up to 2 hours per day and you can book a session in advance to ensure that a computer is available when you want to use it.

Some libraries have facilities for people who have a disability, such as a visual impairment, to enable them to use the computer more easily. Contact the library you wish to visit to book a session and to enquire if the computers will be suitable for your needs.

Reading assistance

Calibre Audio Library provides a postal-based lending service of audio books on cassette tapes, CDs and in MP3 format. Calibre is a nationwide service with 20,000 members, and after an initial registration fee the service is free. As it is a postal service, you can exchange your books as often as you like.

British Wireless for the Blind Fund provide high quality, easy to use audio equipment which has been specially designed and adapted for listeners with sight loss.  All of their radios are available on free loan to blind and partially sighted people who meet their criteria.  Council libraries stock devices that you can loan.

There are a number of free screen readers available.  Whilst most screen readers work by having a synthetic voice that reads text aloud, others can also communicate data via a refreshable braille display.

Seeing Ear is an online library which provides books in a flexible format that can be downloaded by library members. The service is free for anybody who needs books in an accessible format due to reasons such as visual impairment, dyslexia or a physical disability.

Independent Libraries

The Lit & Phil in Westgate Road is the largest independent library outside of London; housing over 150,000 books.

The Hancock Library is located in the Great North Museum with collections on the history and heritage of the Northern Region, Roman Britain and Hadrian’s Wall, as well as archaeology and natural history.

Tyne and Wear Archives  stores historical documents and there are free films and TV programmes that you can watch.

Last updated: June 29, 2022

Scroll to the top of the page