3 Must See Libraries | Manchester, England

04 January 2015

Manchester has a lot to offer. From museums to football to food, the last thing on your mind is probably visiting a library or two. However, Manchester is home to a variety of libraries, all of which are important institutions to the city of Manchester. During my trip to Manchester I visited three libraries, all within walking distance of each other. Although a library isn't exactly your typical tourist attraction, these Manchester libraries offer you a chance to visit a part of Manchester's exciting history.

1 | The John Rylands Library
This beautiful Neo-Gothic Victorian library is an impressive piece of architecture itself. However, the beauty of the building is not the only reason this library is special. Inside the John Rylands Library you can find a Gutenberg Bible, a fragment of a 2,000 year old piece of New Testament text, and the largest collection of William Caxton printed books, better known as the first books printed in England. The library is free and well worth a visit if you have an hour or two to spare.

 2 | Chetham's Library
This 17th century library may not look like much, but it is actually the oldest surviving public library in the English-speakign world. The building itself, built in 1421, is the only complete medieval building that still stands in Manchester. It may seem small, but the library is home to over 100,000 books, most of which predate the mid 19th century. It was even the place where Karl Marx began 'The Communist Manifesto'. To access the library you must wait at the security desk until a librarian comes to collect you. As the library is situated inside Chetham's School, it is understandable that you must be accompanied by a member of staff during school hours. However, this process offers you a chance to feel like you are visiting something exclusive and hidden. Admission is free but a 3 pound donation is suggested as the building itself cost a great deal to maintain.

3 | Manchester Central Library
Although this library is anything but old (by English standards that is), the Central Library is the perfect place to get a general idea of Manchester's history. The main exhibit tells the story of the citizens of Manchester throughout the years, and is home to works such as Shakespeare's Second Folio and a 12th century Roman code of law.

Happy Sunday!

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