20 Oct 2017

Library network launches Harry Potter-inspired displays across UK


Sent on behalf of The British Library:

Leeds Central Library to host display inspired by the British Library’s new exhibition Harry Potter: A History of Magic

From Friday 20 October 2017, visitors will be able to discover fascinating facts about the History of Magic at Leeds Central Library. Displays will launch simultaneously in 20 public libraries across the UK in tandem with the Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibition at the British Library in London. The main exhibition in Leeds will follow from 3rd December.

The series of displays across the UK will include specially designed panels which are inspired by Harry Potter: A History of Magic, showing images of rare books, manuscripts and magical objects featured in the British Library’s exhibition, as well as images of material from J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury’s own collections. The Leeds Central Library’s local connections to magic and folklore will also be showcased in the main exhibition starting on 3rd December, and will include Mother Shipton, born in Yorkshire in 1488 and England’s most famous prophetess. The exhibition will also feature wonderful images from our unique collections.

The displays have been developed by the British Library in collaboration with public libraries through the Living Knowledge Network, an innovative partnership between the British Library and 22 major public libraries across the UK, and the National Library of Scotland and the National Library of Wales.

Harry Potter: A History of Magic celebrates the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, combining centuries-old British Library treasures with original material from Bloomsbury’s and J.K. Rowling’s own archives. Based on the subjects studied at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, this exhibition will showcase material from J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury’s own collections, going on display for the very first time.

Councillor Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council’s executive member for communities said:

‘A whole generation has grown up with the Harry Potter books and been fascinated and inspired by the magical world created. This new exhibition will highlight the history of magic, linking in to local traditions and encourage people to visit the library and find our more from our brilliant collections.’

The range of events in Leeds includes:

Live from the British Library: The Harry Potter Effect

Discussion of the Harry Potter effect on both literature and our cultural consciousness

23rd November 2017, 7pm

Harry Potter : A History of Magic Exhibition

Main exhibition 3rd Dec – 29th January, Room 700, Central Library

History of Magic Experience

Join us for the exhibition launch with a range of exciting activities.

3rd December, 11-3pm

The Herbology Room

The Herbology Room … a space filled with botanical illustrations and extraordinary plants inspired by the magical plant studies of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter stories … in the heart of Leeds Central Library.

The Herbology Sessions: curated collection of workshops and talks including : a closed terrarium workshop, bookbinding, wreath making, charms and smudge sticks, storytelling and life drawing.

3rd December 2017 – 2nd January 2018

The Harry Potter Challenge 

Discover the hidden level in Central Library’s very own ‘Harry Potter Room’ and complete the seven challenges faced by Harry, Ron and Hermione as you attempt to retrieve the Philosopher’s Stone.

3rd December & 9th December 2017, Local and Family History Library

Live from the British Library: Women, Witches and Witch Trials

Includes Private View and Curator Tour of Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibition

5th December 2017, 6pm

The British Library Hogwarts Curriculum Lectures: Herbology with Anna Pavord 

13th December 2017, 12.30pm

A Magical Storytime

A free story and rhymetime for Under 5’s and their grown ups on all things magic

14th December 2017, 11am, Children’s Library, Leeds Central Library

The Hogwarts Curriculum Lectures: Defence Against the Dark Arts with Christopher Frayling 

We are also pleased to welcome Jonathan Ferguson Curator of Firearms at the Royal Armouries in Leeds to talk about the real life ‘vampire killing kit’ that they hold in their collections, before the screening begins.

22nd January 2018, 6pm

The Unquiet Dead 

Local storyteller Matthew Bellwood brings to life a selection of macabre tales from the golden age of the ghost story.

25th January 2018, 6.30 – 8pm, Local and Family History Library

Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library said of the project:

“We are delighted to be working with 20 different public libraries across the UK to share our exhibition, Harry Potter: A History of Magic. The Living Knowledge Network is all about sharing resources, skills and ideas to make our intellectual heritage available to everyone and here we’ve championed what lies at the heart of the Harry Potter stories that resonates deeply with people across the country to achieve this. The roll-out truly encapsulates the convening power of bringing local and national treasures together through the partners.”

We are delighted to be working with 20 different public libraries across the UK to share our exhibition, Harry Potter: A History of Magic. Using stunning mobile panels inspired by the exhibition, these Living Knowledge Network partners will draw on their own collections and regional connections to magical traditions and folklore to make displays, and I look forward to seeing the results.

Sharing our exhibition in this way is the best possible demonstration of our aims for the Living Knowledge Network, which brings together libraries from across the UK to inspire audiences, share knowledge and to celebrate the transformative and enduring power of libraries.”


Notes to editors

Leeds Library and Information Service has 35 sites across the Leeds, based in Community Hubs, as well as a Mobile Library service and School Library Service.

The Central Library, opened in 1884, is home to a wide range of Special Collections and resources. The library has the largest public Lending Library in the city as well as specialist departments covering Art, Music, Local and Family History, Information and Research and BIPC Leeds. Central Library is open seven days a week www.leeds.gov.uk/centrallibrary

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website - www.bl.uk - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.

In January 2015, the British Library published its new strategy, Living Knowledge, which has at its heart the British Library’s mission to make its intellectual heritage available to everyone, for research, inspiration and enjoyment.

The Living Knowledge Network is a new way of working in response to this ambition, working with the National Libraries of Scotland and Wales and 22 major city libraries across the UK. Together we will share resources, skills and ideas, promoting the enduring values of libraries in the twenty-first century and reinforcing the idea of the library as a transformative and accessible public asset.

The Living Knowledge Network is funded by Arts Council England and the British Library for a two year pilot period. It has three key priorities for its 2016-18 pilot period:

  • Knowledge Exchange- strengthening our collective capacity, capability and impact to deliver world-class library services to diverse communities

  • Joint offers to audiences – breaking down institutional boundaries to share our programmes, activities and content

  • Network power – forming a unique and powerful cohort of 22 city libraries and three national libraries for funding applications, evidence-gathering and to share programmes with a potential 13 million users

    Press Contacts

Contact Name


Contact Details

Linda Bloomfield

Harry Potter Creative Producer (Regional) – British LIbrary


0207 412 7233 / 07909 227663

Rose Gibson

Central Library Manager


0113 37 87039

Rhian Isaac

Collections Manager


0113 37 87054

For media enquiries contact:

Leeds City Council Communications team