Manchester Central Library

Creative Tourist
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, 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 a 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.

  • St Peter's Square
  • Manchester
  • M2 5PD
  • View map

Opening Hours

  • Mon: 9:30am – 4:30pm
  • Tue: 9:30am – 4:30pm
  • Wed: 9:30am – 4:30pm
  • Thu: 9:30am – 6:00pm
  • Fri: 9:30am – 4:30pm
  • Sat: 9:30am – 4:30pm
  • Sun: Closed
  • Always double check opening hours with the venue before making a special visit

Admission Charges

Free

Services and Facilities

Lending library, archive centre, BFI Mediatheque, cafe, children's library, music library, live music, live theatre, events

Accessibility

Fully accessible

Commercial and hire services

Meeting & performance rooms for hire

Things to do at Manchester Central Library

Powered by culturehosts

Things to do right now

Powered by culturehosts
Cinema Until 29 September 2022, from £9.95

Crimes of the Future at HOME

Activity Until 30 September 2022, from £25.00

Canoeing and Kayaking on the Mersey

Families Until 1 October 2022, from £13.00

Mrs Doubtfire at Manchester Opera House

MFDF 2022
Festivals Until 2 October 2022,

Manchester Food and Drink Festival 2022

Cinema Until 3 October 2022, from £9.95

Not Just Bollywood at HOME

Music Until 5 October 2022, from £5.50

Sounds of Nature at The Stoller Hall

The Glass Menagerie at the Royal Exchange
Theatre Until 8 October 2022, from £10.00

The Glass Menagerie at the Royal Exchange

Electric Gamebox at the arndale
Childrens Until 22 October 2022, from £5.00

Electric Gamebox at The Arndale

Victoria Baths Guided Tour
Activity Until 26 October 2022, from £6

Victoria Baths Guided Tour

Illustration entitled ‘Because you cannot tame something so happily wild’ by Emily Hughes showing painted animals in a woodland setting
Exhibitions Until 30 October 2022, FREE

Picture This at The Lowry

vegan super club
Activity Until 25 November 2022, from £50

Supper Club at the Vegetarian Society Cookery School