Central Library reborn after £50m overhaul

Central Library
Central Library

More than 2.5 million people have visited Central Library in Manchester since its re-opening in 2014.

The library has hosted two literature festivals, two jazz festivals, two science festivals and two film festivals since the four-year, £50m project to restore the building was completed.

More than 2,000 events and activities have been hosted at the reopened library, plus 254 educational sessions for school pupils.

Almost 450,000 items have been issued or renewed during the Central library overhaul, which has also hosted more than 300,000 computer sessions and 328,000 free wifi sessions.

A key cultural venue for the city, Central Library has hosted a series of festivals, including a week-long artistic residency by the Ivor Novello Award-nominated Manchester band Everything Everything – often within the ground floor performance space, but also in other parts of the library, like the famed Wolfson Reading Room.

Four Family Sunday Fundays have taken place – special Sunday openings, offering a programme of free events for people of all ages – with the help of the Central Library Development Trust.

The Development Trust, a charity which raises funds to support the enhancement of the library through special events and improved facilities, has also successfully launched its ‘Library Lovers’ fundraising scheme, with the help of Elbow frontman Guy Garvey.

The Henry Watson Music Library, hosted at Central Library, has been honoured with an Excellence Award by the International Association of Music Libraries, with particular praise given for the broad range of stock on offer – including musical instruments for loan – and its busy events programme.

Meanwhile, the evolution of the building continues, with the introduction of a dedicated new exhibition space planned for next month.

The Exhibition Hall, set to open on the first floor of the library on April 9, will be a space to exhibit many of the library’s fascinating archive collections to the public, plus hosting touring national exhibitions.

The move restores the area to the function it originally served when Central Library first opened in 1934.

A suite of computers which were previously housed in the area will be relocated to the Henry Watson Music Library, while a collection of periodicals will be moved to the behind-the-scenes ‘historic stacks’, but will remain available to the public.

Executive Member for Culture and Leisure, Councillor Rosa Battle, said: “Two years on from the reopening of the much-loved Central Library, its offer to the city’s residents continues to evolve.

“The vision for the library is to preserve and honour its beautiful heritage, while also ensuring that it is modern, vibrant and relevant to today’s Mancunians.

“Two and a half million visitors have already made the most of everything Central Library overhaul has to offer and it will only go from strength to strength in the future.”

High-tech Apple Mac computers and 3D printers, a Children’s Library, a dedicated Business & Intellectual Property Library and the interactive Archives+ Centre for local history are just some of the other features which have attracted Manchester residents and visitors from around the globe in the past two years.