Manchester is well-known for it’s buzzing nightlife and music scene, but it’s also home to some of the most beautiful libraries in the UK. If you fancy a bookish alternative to a pub crawl, then head to Central Manchester to discover this amazing city of knowledge! History, amazing architecture, exhibitions, and of course lots of books can be found in these four incredible libraries scattered across the city. If you want to investigate and explore them all in one day then you’ll need to check opening times and see if you need to book ahead for any temporary exhibits.
John Rylands Research Institute and Library
Head towards Manchester’s Spinningfields district to find the John Rylands Library. Situated just a few minutes away from world class bars and restaurants, nestled away just off the main road, you’ll find a sanctuary that wouldn’t look out of place on the set of Harry Potter. The architecture is a wonderful example of Neo-Gothic building work, and the interior boasts gorgeous tall windows which are perfect for letting in reading light.
When it comes to the collection itself, it’s something to be marvelled at. The John Rylands Library is home to some impressive archival items including medieval manuscripts and the oldest known fragment of the New Testament.
Venture just a few metres away from Manchester Victoria Train Station to walk in the footsteps of Karl Marx at the Chetham’s Library. The building itself dates back to the 1400s, so it’s not hard to fully immerse yourself in rich history while you’re walking among the bookshelves.
You can see the corner where Marx and Engles allegedly conducted their research and discussions, along with a selection of the books they read from. Once you’ve seen this prestigious spot you can continue around the building, admiring the extraordinary details of the building and all of the historical features to be discovered within.
Manchester Central Library
It’s hard to miss Manchester Central Library – the building itself is gorgeous and impossible not to admire. As well as being a regular functional library, there are some great archival services, music services, reading areas, exhibits, and a café on site. Even if you’re not much of a book-worm, Manchester Central Library is worth a visit just for a leisurely wander round on a quiet afternoon!
The Portico Library
The Portico Library is easy to miss as it’s hidden above a pub in the centre of Manchester. You’ll need to ring a doorbell down a side street to gain access before being let in and having to climb several flights of stairs. Once you reach the top you’ll be faced with a gorgeous bookish setting full of floor to ceiling bookshelves, big comfy leather sofas for reading, and a beautiful reading room.
The Portico Library is the place to go if you want to research and read about anything local. There are often exhibits on too, as well as there being a small shop and coffee shop. Despite being a fairly small space, it’s easy to get lost in the wonder of the Portico Library for a whole afternoon.