Welcome

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 visitors Monday to Friday 9.00am-12.30 and 1.30-4.30pm. Please make an appointment if you wish to read. Groups of more than about five or six visitors are asked to phone or email in advance.

Chetham's Library
Long Millgate
M3 1SB
0161 834 7961
librarian@chethams.org.uk

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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:

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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.

Broadside Day Conference

The Broadside Day is the annual one-day conference for people interested in Street Literature in all its fascinating aspects - broadsides, chapbooks, songsters, woodcuts, engravings, last dying speeches, catchpennies, wonder-tales, almanacs, fortune-tellers, moral tracts, reading-made-easy alphabets, and all kinds of cheap printed material sold to ordinary people in city streets, at country fairs, and from pedlars' packs up and down the country in past centuries. Read more...

Unreal Chetham’s - An Unofficial Official Tour From iOrganic

For the next six weeks, performing arts company iOrganic will be creating an ‘unofficial’ tour of the Library and medieval buildings, engaging with visitors through workshops, informal interviews and social media campaigns to gather stories, real or imagined, about the history of the place. Read more...

The Diaries of Dora Turnor

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