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Central Library

Treasures of the Manchester Libraries
Meet: At the entrance of John Rylands Library, Deansgate.
Date: Thursday 19 March 2020, 2.30pm.
Booking: Please press here to book with eventbrite.

An unmissable opportunity to gaze in awe at literary rarities and first editions including the oldest piece of the New Testament in existence, first folios of Shakespeare, Newton’s Principia Mathematica, a very early banned Ulysses and other priceless treasures from the rare collections of three great Manchester libraries.
• Guide: Ed Glinert (Penguin author, editor of the Sherlock Holmes stories for Penguin Classics), at his antiquarian best.

First Edition

Portico - excellent

As for Central Library
Manchester’s magnificent municipal library re-opened in March 2014 after a £40 million pound refit and has proved an endless source of fascination to locals, visitors and tourists.

At once it is reassuringly familiar (the exquisitely domed reading room) and mind-bogglingly different (the ground floor area, so wonderfully opened up and now so hi-tech).

The building, which opened in 1934, has even been segued with the adjacent Town Hall Extension in various ingenious ways. (Both were designed by Emmanuel Vincent Harris, whose best known work is the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall).

Crowds greet George V for the royal opening in 1934
Crowds greet George V for the royal opening in 1934

Since reopening the good folk who run the Library have allowed us to host monthly talks on aspects of Manchester history (see the Library’s Archives+ website). They have also sent a number of groups (U3A, Probus etc) our way to conduct private tours of the newly-revamped buildings, and we have also decided to run public tours.

We will show you around this Romanesque revival masterpiece updated for the 21st century while revealing the surprising history of the various incarnations of this library (the first such library in Manchester was opened by Charles Dickens in 1852), outline the best stories of this building, show off fascinating pictures of the earlier Manchester libraries and explain who all the famous folk are on the top floor. At the end we’ll even let you play with the funky hands-on gadgets on the ground floor, but not till we’ve perused some extraordinary first editions and rarities – Shakespeare 1st Folio, Newton’s Principia Mathematica – that the good folk at the Library will extract for us.