The library has witnessed many changes over the years and has not always been situated on its current site. Originally, the university leased 20 Castle Hill, a former stained glass factory owned by the firm Shrigley and Hunt. The building was vacated in 1949 for bigger premises and then left largely derelict until it was rented by the university in the mid- 1960s. 20 Castle Hill was primarily used for the unpacking and cataloguing of library books. When the library moved to the new Bailrigg site, the building on Castle Hill became the Shabab Curry House, a place well- known to many current students.
The new library was jointly planned and designed by the chief librarian Mr Graham MacKenzie and the architect, Mr Tom Mellor in 1964. MacKenzie said the library should be able to accommodate two thousand readers and one million books. After this initial brief was fulfilled, Phase III of the building began in January 1971; a fountain courtyard, open air seating area on the upper terraces, an exhibition room and a graduate study area were all added.