Manchester Central Library

Manchester Central Library
St Peter's Square
M2 5PD
View on map
Get here sustainably


Visit Now »

A dancer jumping at Company Chameleon's Illuminate at Manchester Central Library
Company Chameleon's Illuminate at Central Library | ©Joel Chester Fildes

Manchester Central Library is the second-largest public lending library in England (after the Library of Birmingham) and contains a wealth of rare books, special collections and local history for visitors to discover. 

First opened in 1934 by King George V, the library closed for a £40-million redesign and renovation programme in 2010. When it reopened to the public in 2014, it featured a more inclusive design fit for the digital age, aiming to appeal to families and young people as well as more traditional library audiences. Previously, only 30% of the building was open to the public, with 70% behind the scenes. The redesign opened up the library and reversed these ratios, providing more space and services. 

Today, the library is an innovative blend of old and new. Many of the original heritage features of the Grade-II listed building have been restored, such as the ornate Wolfson Reading Room, while digital features have been introduced to equip the library for the modern age. These include the Media Lounge, equipped with Apple Mac computers featuring creative software for filmmakers and designers, and the Archives+ Centre, an interactive digital archive including viewing stations for film clips to bring history alive. 

Manchester Central Library also features the North West’s first BFI Mediatheque, offering visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in a wide range of film and TV for free. Don’t miss the special collection devoted to Manchester and the surrounding regions on film, which provides access to many titles not available on DVD or online. 

For families, the Children’s Library provides an immersive experience complete with digital interactive screens, floor projections and site-specific artwork. Keep an eye out for the worker bee, the Manchester emblem, among the insects that little ones can find in the undergrowth projected onto the digital wall. 

Take a break or fuel up for the rest of your day out with a drink and snack at the library cafe, serving a wide range of sweet and savoury treats, as well as soft drinks and Fairtrade tea and coffee.

Get the latest news from Oxford Road in your inbox