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Books of all sorts for public use

Two wooden chairs in front of bookcases with old books

Books of all sorts for public use (2020-2022)

In late 2019, we were awarded funding for a two-year project to open up Cosin’s Library to the wider public by Arts Council England under its Designation Development Fund scheme. With Books of all sorts for public use, we wanted to raise the profile of the library in preparation for reopening it to visitors.

Located in the heart of Durham City on Palace Green (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), our library is one of the earliest public libraries in the North East that still survives today. It was owned and managed by the Bishops of Durham until the establishment of Durham University in 1832. Today, the books collected by Bishop Cosin are still housed in the building created for this purpose, and large parts of the 17th-century interior remain intact. In 2005, the library and collection were awarded Designated Status by the Museums, Libraries and Archives council (now Arts Council England). The library was closed to the public for several years during extensive conservation work, and we reopened in April 2022.

The Cosin’s Library Project, which ran until the end of March 2022, laid the groundwork for reopening the library space by improving access to the building and its collections, creating a deeper and richer experience for local audiences, visitors to the World Heritage Site, and beyond.

Much of what you can find on the Cosin’s Library website today was created as part of this project and we are grateful for the financial support provided by Arts Council England.