Manchester Central Library, St Peter's Square, Manchester, M2 5PD – Visit Now
Manchester Central Library has reopened so you can now visit this wonderful venue. Pre-Covid, Manchester’s Central Library had a makeover like no other. Its iconic, E. Vincent Harris-designed neo-Classical curves have been refreshed to make Central Library the belle of the ball, and alongside a stunning familiar exterior, an inner beauty has been revealed with a sympathetic, yet entirely 21st century, refurbishment.
From Art Deco lamps, brass handrails, wooden carvings and the Shakespeare window above the entrance, to the intricate gilded clock and Scagiola columns (they’re hollow; give them a gentle knock) in the amazing domed Whispering Gallery of the first-floor Reading Room – everything has been painstakingly restored to its original glory. A 1930s staircase has been revealed in the refurbishment; original ceilings and floors see the light of day for the first time in years. The “heritage stacks” are now visible behind glazing – this is a revamp that thoughtfully juxtaposes old with new.
This is a revamp that thoughtfully juxtaposes old with new
The library’s treasures include 1846 playbills from Theatre Royal over the road, a hand-written Roman codex unearthed locally and an Elizabeth Gaskell first edition.
Alongside the old there is an impressive new Archives+ area on the ground floor, alongside interactive display units and touch tables in the open plan café. Here too, you can watch films in the BFI Mediatheque and North West Film Archive pods. “It’s all about stories,” says Head of Libraries, Neil MacInnes.
The lending library has 110,000 items, a media centre, a unique black history collection (at the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre), a Secret Garden-themed children’s section and as well as hosting the largest public music library in the country, there’s new exhibition and performance space, soft seating and 170 computers for public use spread throughout the building. “It’s the city’s study, but it’s also the city’s living room,” says MacInnes.
Services and FacilitiesLending library, archive centre, BFI Mediatheque, cafe, children's library, music library, live music, live theatre, events
Commercial and hire servicesMeeting & performance rooms for hire