Chetham's Library was founded in 1653 and is the oldest public library in the English-speaking world. It is an independent charity and remains open to readers and visitors free of charge.
The Library began acquiring books in August 1655, and has been adding to its collections ever since. As well as a fine collection of early printed books, the collections include a wealth of ephemera, manuscript diaries, letters and deeds, prints, paintings and glass lantern-slides.
The entire collection at Chetham's Library has been designated as one of national and international importance, an accolade of which we are extremely proud.
Chetham's Library is open Monday to Friday 9.00-12.30 a.m. and 1.30-4.30 p.m. Visitors are welcome at any time during opening hours, but please make an appointment if you wish to come and read.
Entry is free.
Access to the historic first-floor library is via a flight of eighteen stairs. Wheelchair users and others unable to manage the stairs have full access to the collections by the use of ground floor study rooms. Please contact us in advance with details of your requirements.
Parking on site is available only to holders of disabled parking permits or similar recognised permits. There is a multi-storey car park at the nearby Manchester Evening News Arena, the entrance to which is on Trinity Way.
The Library holds over 100,000 volumes of printed books, of which 60,000 were published before 1851. These include particularly rich collections of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century printed works, periodicals and journals, broadsides and other ephemera. Most of the material may be found in our online Catalogue
The collections include substantial holdings of manuscripts and archives. Manuscripts are not yet included in our online catalogue, but a Handlist of Manuscripts provides a detailed listing of some of the materials.
The Library has collected thousands of prints, drawings and photographs over the years. A large number are of local interest. Only a few of the most important of these graphic materials have been catalogued. Handlists are available for some of the other collections.
Archives, Social History, Literature, Natural Sciences, Religion, Industry, Archaeology