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Top 5 historic libraries

Explore the libraries that have inspired and nurtured Mancunian minds for centuries.


Chetham's Library

Well-preserved medieval college buildings housing a seventeenth-century library, believed to be the oldest public library in England. The Library is open to the public without appointment from Monday to Friday, 9-12.30 and 1.30-4.30pm. More info


John Rylands Library

This masterpiece of Victorian Gothic architecture looks more like a castle or cathedral. The library's world class collection includes the oldest known piece of the New Testament, the St John Fragment. More info


Manchester Central Library

This Grade-II listed building, the second largest public library in the UK, reopened in March 2014 following a £50 million refurbishment. Within the intricate 1930s architecture lies a high-tech media lounge, Archives+ family history centre and much more to keep visitors entertained for hours. More info


Working Class Movement Library

The Working Class Movement Library records over 200 years of organising and campaigning by working men and women for social and political progress. The Salford-based library is built on the personal collection of Ruth and Edmund Frow and holds tens of thousands of books, pamphlets and archives, as well as posters, banners, prints, newspapers, photographs and more. More info


The Portico Library and Gallery

The Portico Library & Gallery opened in 1806 as a library and newsroom and continues to be an active centre of culture for the people of Manchester and beyond. The Library consists of a remarkable 19th century collection of approximately 25,000 books. More info