The Linen Hall is the oldest library in Belfast

Founded in 1788

The Linen Hall Library is a truly unique institution. Founded in 1788, it is the oldest library in Belfast and the only remaining library in Ireland that still generates a proportion of its income from membership.

Founded as the Belfast Library and Society for Promoting Knowledge in 1788, The Linen Hall is a unique institution. It is the oldest library in the city and remains the only subscription library in Ireland, continuing to generate a proportion of its income from membership. Founding members established the society on radical and Enlightenment ideals. Over more than 200 years, The Linen Hall has retained its independence, maintaining the principle that its resources are owned by the community for the community.
Housed in a Victorian-era former linen warehouse on Donegall Square North, The Linen Hall is free for all to enter and enjoy from Monday to Friday, 9.30am – 5.30pm.

“The very words 'The Linen Hall Library' represent not just books, but better hopes for the way we live.”

Our Collections

The National Collection of Northern Ireland Publications is an ongoing collection of books, journals, pamphlets, and reports published in Northern Ireland.
Digitised archives of a number of writers who were born or grew up in Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Literary Archive begins in the late 19th century with the work of Sir Samuel Ferguson, and includes letters, manuscripts, and typescripts of John Boyd, Robert Greacen, Sam Hanna Bell, John Hewitt, Joan Lingard, Louis MacNeice, Stewart Parker and WR Rodgers.
The primary source for theatrical material from Northern Ireland, our Theatre & Performing Arts archive charts local theatre from printed plays of the 18th century to collections of programmes of numerous theatres, including the Grand Opera House and Lyric Theatre, and archives of playwrights and local theatre companies. Digitised content is accessible via the Digital Theatre Archive and extraORDINARYwomen.

Experience one of Ireland’s most unique and historic institutions

Visitor Information

Are you planning a trip to The Linen Hall? Find out answers to some of the most frequently asked questions​.

Annual Reports

Join Us

Become a member of the Linen Hall and enjoy the benefits offered by Belfast’s oldest library while helping to protect and preserve our unique collections.

Opening Hours


9.30am – 5.30pm
9.30am – 5.30pm
9.30am – 5.30pm
9.30am – 5.30pm
9.30am – 5.30pm

How to reach us

17 Donegall Square North

Google Maps

+44 (0)28 9032 1707


Admission to the library is FREE.

Suggested donation is £3

Disabled Access

Wheelchair access is available throughout the building, and all floors are accessible by customer lift. To avail of lift access, please enter through the Fountain Street door.



17 Donegall Square North

Proudly Supported By

The Linen Hall (Belfast Library And Society For Promoting Knowledge) is registered with the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland NIC 104 564.