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

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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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Timed entry for visits

We're moving to timed admissions for 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.

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

Communities of Print

Communities of Print is a network of leading international scholars looking at the role of books in creating communities, and how books were used in communal settings. We are delighted to be hosting their first seminar on June 17 2016. Read more...

The Western Magical Tradition

On Wednesday 18 May 2016, join Professor Ronald Hutton, leading authority on history of the British Isles in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, to discuss The Western Magical Tradition. Read more...

Manchester After Hours - Poet's Corner: Poetry from C19th Manchester

As part of Manchester After Hours, this exhibition explores the artistic milieu of local poets, as well as the domestic and working lives of Mancunians in the 19th century. Brought to you by the MA Museum Studies and Art Management students from the University of Manchester, the exhibition showcases our finest collection of manuscripts and early printed books published in Greater Manchester.

The Poet’s Corner, formerly known as the Sun Inn, was once situated outside Chetham’s gates and became a prominent hub of Manchester culture in the 19th century where authors and poets gathered to write and hold irregular social meetings. Some of the works produced by these poets are on display.

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...

Chetham's Library now on Instagram

We are finally on Instagram! Follow us for insights into the oldest public library in the English-speaking world. Find us @chethamslibrary.

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...