The John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH – Visit Now
Opened in 1990, this neo-Gothic building says much about Manchester’s industrial fortunes. It was modelled on a traditional Oxford college library, but put together on a grand Mancunian scale. It cost £230,000 and nine years to build. It had air conditioning, electric light and dust-resistant bookcases. And it was commissioned by a grieving widow, Enriqueta Rylands, in memory of her husband, a man of religious conviction, a philanthropist of Victorian ambition and a remarkably successful textiles manufacturer. He must have been: it was his money, after all, that paid for the construction of the library and for the purchase of the theological and scholarly collections that originally stacked its shelves.
Although it is easy to wax lyrical and at length about the building itself, as impressive as its architecture are its collections: the rare printed texts that include preserved papyrus fragments, the letters of local author Elizabeth Gaskell and an original Gutenberg Bible. Part of The University of Manchester, over 250,000 items are stored here – spanning five millennia – alongside a further one million manuscripts and the archives of local families of note, including the letters and documents of the Earls of Stamford (of nearby Dunham Massey fame).
The John Rylands Library boasts a well-stocked shop and café, an ideal spot for a cup of tea – with regular exhibitions and events also running throughout the year, it’s a destination venue for locals as well as visitors to the city. Just to stand in its glorious Historic Reading Room, surrounded on all sides by books, stained glass and statuary, is one of the greatest thrills of literary Manchester.
Services and FacilitiesExhibitions, events, shop, cafe,
AccessibilityThere is level access to all public areas except the old entrance hall and historic toilets.
Commercial and hire servicesPrivate hire available
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.