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

Check the accessibility of the library before you visit

AccessAble can help you to plan your trips to places like cinemas, theatres, restaurants, railway stations, hotels, colleges, universities, hospitals and more. They visit and review the accessibility of places in Newcastle. Use their directory of venues to find wheelchair friendly venues, read more about facilities and disabled access available. Such as:

  • photos of the facilities
  • entrance to the building
  • accessible toilets or changing places
  • how easy it is to move around the venue
  • lifts
  • transport and parking
  • dementia friendly
  • quiet or safe space
  • sign language


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.

Listen to Toni Ford, Libraries Officer, talking about reading groups across the City.

Listen to: Reading groups –  Why not Join and Connect ?

Joining a Reading Group

This national reading groups interactive database from the Reading Agency includes those at Newcastle Libraries. Interested in joining one? Email the contact on the database or email  [email protected] or call : 0191 277 4100 and the Library team will get back to you.

Borrow books for your reading group

Newcastle Libraries has more than 230 titles available for reading groups to borrow. Discover reading group titles on Newcastle Libraries catalogue.

Request the title you’d like by email to: Newburn Library.

Start a Reading Group

If you would like to start your own reading group we can help you with that too.

For tips to get started, download the Reading Agency’s How to Start a Reading Group resource pack.

Join a Reading Friends Group

Do you want to get together, chat, read, share stories, laugh and build community in your local area? Reading Friends is a UK-wide programme from the Reading Agency that aims to start conversations through reading. They also need volunteers. To join a group or express an interest in volunteering, email [email protected]

Adult Literacy Services

Newcastle Libraries take part in the Reading Agency’s Reading Ahead project every year. This project challenges participants to pick six reads (books, magazines, poems and websites) and record, rate and review them in a personal reading diary which can be printed or digital. After completing their diary they receive a certificate or digital badge. Those taking part in prison receive a free dictionary on completion thanks to charity Give A Book.

Newcastle Libraries support adult literacy through their Improving Readers collection that has reading material for all literacy levels. All resources can be borrowed by individuals and organisations. If you’re interested in using sets of resources in a classroom or group setting, email [email protected]. They can also signpost you to organisations in the local area who can support you to improve your literacy.  InformationNOW has a page on English as a Second Language (ESOL) classes across Newcastle. 

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 if you are unable to visit a library regularly because you are in ill health (either permanently or temporarily), or have a permanent disability. They can deliver a bag of books or audiobooks to your door each month.

The Royal Voluntary Service run a home library service. They can bring books, DVDs, CDs and audio tapes on a regular basis to people who are unable to get to a library. Volunteers can select reading materials for you.

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: September 15, 2023