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.

Here are our picks

  • 1. Manchester Central Library

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

    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.

  • 2. The John Rylands Library

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

    The John Rylands 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.

  • 3. The Portico Library

    The Portico Library, Manchester
    Creative Tourist

    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.

  • 4. Chetham’s Library

    Chetham’s Library in Long Millgate in Manchester

    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.

  • 5. Working Class Movement Library

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

    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.

Because of the ongoing Coronavirus crisis, we are unable to bring you our usual recommendations for things to do in Manchester and the North. Our thoughts at this time are with our readers and with the organisations and businesses who make the North of England a great place to live and visit. We hope you stay well and look forward to sharing more unmissable events and places with you later in the year.

Here’s our guide to supporting organisations in Manchester and the North.

Please note – many of the venues on our site will be closed and events either postponed or cancelled. Please check the venue website for details.