Libraries in Manchester

Polly Checkland Harding

Bibliophiles, rejoice: we have rounded up the best libraries in Manchester for your perusal. Manchester has long been a place of learning – it is home to Britain’s oldest public library, after all. We thought it high time to celebrate the best libraries in Manchester, big and small, new and old.

Our top picks

Manchester Central Library

Manchester Central Library, St Peter's Square, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M2 5PD - Visit now

Central Library re-opened in 2014 after a £48m restoration, bigger and brighter, and the new home of the city’s archives and local history collections.

Manchester Central Library
Photograph by Mike Peel (www.mikepeel.net). [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

John Rylands Research Institute and Library

John Rylands Research Institute and Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M3 3EH - Visit now

John Rylands Library houses a collection of rare books that spans five millennia – including an original Gutenberg Bible – in a neo-Gothic building that took nine years to build.

Magic bowls event. Image shows The historic Reading Room in John Rylands Library
Image courtesy of John Rylands Library.

The Portico Library

The Portico Library, 57 Mosley Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M2 3HY - Visit now

The Portico Library opened in 1806, and remains a well-appointed subscription library today. Go for tea and cake, exhibitions and events beneath its beautiful glass dome.

The Portico Library, Manchester
Creative Tourist

Chetham’s Library

Chetham’s Library, Long Millgate, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M3 1SB - Visit now

Chetham’s Library is the oldest free public reference library in Britain. Visitors can browse beautiful medieval shelving and an internationally rated collection of books.

Chetham’s Library in Long Millgate in Manchester

Working Class Movement Library

Working Class Movement Library, 51 The Crescent, Salford, Greater Manchester, M5 4WX - Visit now

The Working Class Movement Library houses the personal collection of labour historians Ruth and Edmund Frow, a treasure trove of material and stories dating back to the 1760s.

Working Class Movement Library
Richard Rogerson [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Manchester Poetry Library

Manchester Poetry Library, Oxford Road, Manchester, M15 6BR - Visit now

The North West’s first public poetry library, with a mission to widen access to poetry to everybody, you’ll find Manchester Poetry Library opposite All Saints park.

Manchester Poetry Library
MMU

Where to go in Manchester

Manchester
Library
Gaskell Society

These regular talks in both Manchester and Knutsford unpack the meaning and significance of Elizabeth Gaskell’s writing.

Manchester
Library
North City Library

A modern community library space in North Manchester which is shared with North Manchester Sixth Form College.

Manchester
Library
Wythenshawe Forum

Wythenshawe Forum comprises co-located services and a hub for community and business. The venue has leisure facilities as well as a performance space and complete library services.

Manchester
Library
Tameside Library

Tameside Library has the library on one floor and the Central Art Gallery above. Sounds a little like an arts centre. It’s all housed in a comfortable and sturdy building.

Chorlton Library on Manchester road in Chorlton
Chorlton
Library
Chorlton Library

This cornerstone of Chorlton life is a Carnegie library, listed building and the second busiest library in the city.

Chetham’s Library in Long Millgate in Manchester
Manchester
Library
Chetham’s Library

Chetham’s Library is one of the must-sees of any visit to Manchester. The library was founded in 1653, and is the oldest public library in the world – but the building dates back even further, to 1421.

Manchester Visitor Guides

Tasting Menus in The North

Looking for the finest luxury multi-course restaurants in Manchester? Look no further. We've picked out the very best tasting menus in the city - just make sure you have deep pockets.

Photo of the Halle orchestra at Bridgewater
Music Venues in Manchester

Manchester is still a great place to watch new and innovative music – so here’s a guide to where to watch the best live music in the city.

Sunday Roasts in Manchester

Looking for the finest roast dinners in Manchester? Look no further. We've picked out the very best Sunday dinners in the city.

Federal Cafe Bar
Breakfast in Manchester

Manchester is strong with the breakfast force, and has some impressive form where brunch is concerned. Here’s our pick of the city’s morning glories.

Blossom on trees in Manchester
Parks and Gardens in Manchester

There are more green spaces in Manchester than you might think. We've picked out some of the best parks and gardens in and around the city.

Bars in Manchester

The best new bars in Manchester, plus some old favourites for good measure.

Pillock at Contact
Spotlight on

Fringe Theatre in Manchester and the North

Check out our top picks of shows previewing in the North West before heading to Edinburgh Fringe Festival later in the summer.

Take me there

Culture Guides

Rebecca Watson author photo
Literature Events in Manchester and the North

In between working out, then working through, your holiday reading pile this summer, find inspiration for your next bookish acquisitions from our selection of live events and exhibitions.