Plymouth Proprietary Library

The Proprietary Library is one of Plymouth's oldest historic institutions, founded in 1810. It was originally situated in a John Foulston-designed building at the centre of the City in Cornwall Street, but was bombed in World War Two and moved to its present location at the top of North Hill after the war.

It is a Registered Charity run by a Committee of Trustees elected by the members (who are known as Subscribers) at each Annual General Meeting. It has a regular income from investments and lettings and this supplements the subscriptions to cover the running expenses of the Library and for the purchase of new fiction and non-fiction books.


Subscriptions are available from any date and for a minimum of six months. All Subscribers are entitled to vote at the Annual General Meeting and are eligible for election to the Committee.

A Subscriber and his/her spouse/partner may use all the rooms of the Library, and members of the household over 15 years of age may use the Reading Room. A subscriber may take out one magazine in addition to any books covered by the subscription.

Annual Subscription Rates (July 2013):
£50 for Full Membership
£25 for Junior Membership (Members under the age of 25)

A subscriber may taken out up to 2 new and 5 old books at any time.
(New refers to books that are less than 9 months old)

Heritage Tours:  

Tours of Plymouth Proprietary Library and the story of its place in cultural local history can be arranged with advanced notice.  Please contact the library for more details.

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Plymouth Proprietary Library also runs a Book Group and occasional events.


Plymouth Proprietary Library FrontCharles Dickens Bust and BooksBookcase in Plymouth Proprietary LibraryPlymouth Proprietary Library Magazines and JournalsPlymouth Proprietary Library Original Plaque