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, although we suggest a minimum donation of £3.

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.

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.

You can explore some of Chetham's treasures, search the online catalogue and find out more about our collections by following the links in the menu above.

Chetham's Library is open to readers Monday to Friday 9.00am-12.30 and 1.30-4.30pm by prior appointment : please email us or call 0161 834 7961. For details please see our visitors page.

Chetham's Library
Long Millgate
M3 1SB
0161 834 7961

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Virtual Belle Vue

A fabulous new searchable, interactive resource on Belle Vue Zoo and Pleasure Gardens - find out more and get involved!

101 Treasures of Chetham's

A weekly series in which we highlight some of the Library's most interesting stuff, which as well as famous books and manuscripts includes furniture, paintings, and objects from the museum collection.

Digital Resources

A small but growing number of Library items is now free to view online in pdf format on our Digital Resources page.

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Museum Accreditation Scheme

Chapbooks in Manchester Libraries

Several chapbooks from the Chetham's Library and Manchester City Library collections are available as pdfs here.

The Leech Family Archive

A permanent online exhibition examining the history and significance of the Leech family in Manchester from the early 1800s to the last years of the twentieth century.

Chetham's Library Publications

Several publications about the history of the Library are available to buy here, along with a limited number of high-quality facsimile reprints.

The Axon Ballad Collection

Chetham's is pleased to host the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society's collection of broadsides here.

Reproduction and Licensing

For the reproduction and licensing of images from Chetham's Library, please click on the Bridgeman Art Library link:

Bridgeman Art Library logo


Timed entry for visits

We're moving to timed admissions for sight-seeing visits to the Library. If you'd like to look round, please arrive at one of the times below: if you'd like to bring a group or you're coming to us to use the Library's collections, please email us or call us on 0161 834 7961 in advance. For details please see our visitors page.

The times are: 10.00 : 11.00 : 12.00 : 13.30 : 14.30 : 15.30

Open late this Thursday 7th July!

We’re pleased to announce that the Library and Medieval Buildings will be open after work once a month on a Thursday, with the next one on July 7th. Many of you have asked for more flexible opening times, and we hope that as many as possible will be able to come along, soak up the evening sunshine, wander round the medieval buildings and have a look at material from the collections. We’ll be open until 8.30, so why not combine it with a visit to Manchester Cathedral, listen to the beautiful sung Evensong, or grab a bite to eat with our neighbours at the Corn Exchange?

Wizard Wheeze

In response to popular demand, our necromancy manuscript is now downloadable.

Our current exhibition: Poet's Corner

Following the launch event as part of Manchester After Hours, our new exhibition on poetry is available for your inspection. Read more and see the poster...

Weddings at Chetham's Library

Would you like to get married in the idyllic setting of the oldest public library in the English-speaking world? We are delighted to offer weddings at Chetham’s in partnership with Vanilla in Allseasons. Read more...

Overseas visitors

A history of Chetham's Library, written by Library Patron Gill Williamson, is available here in a number of languages.

The Diaries of Dora Turnor

Read more about this extraordinary collection of journals written by a young girl in the 1870s...