Close this search box.

10 Things You May Not Know About Central Library

Here are ten things you may not have know about Central Library...

Just in time to celebrate its 80th anniversary, the ‘reborn’ Central Library is now open to visitors after the successful completion of a major transformation project.

Central Library is the second largest public library in the UK and its transformation has made it into an exciting yet harmonious blend of old and new. The Grade II listed building’s many heritage features, such as the famous Reading Room, have been lovingly restored, while new features fit for the digital age, such as the Archives+ centre and media lounge, have been added.

Central Library is truly a place for everyone and it is expected to attract two million visitors each year.

Here are ten things you may not have know about Central Library:

1. Opened in 1934

The current Central Library building was originally opened in 1934, by King George V.

2. Air raid shelter

The building sustained slight damage on June 1 1941, during the Manchester Blitz. The basement of the building was used as a public air raid shelter during World War II.

3. Porters & pageboys

Shakespeare Hall was originally staffed by porters dressed in tailcoats and tall silk hats, while the lift was worked by pageboys, who also carried messages across the city.

4. Behind the scenes

Before its transformation, 70 percent of Central Library was behind the scenes, with only 30 percent open to the public. These ratios have now been reversed.

5. 78 apprenticeships

Contractor Laing O’Rourke, and sub-contractors, created 78 apprenticeships through the transformation of the Central Library and the neighbouring Town Hall Extension.

6. 2,000 films

Central Library’s new British Film Institute mediatheque has more than 2,000 complete films, TV programmes and even home movies. Amongst the collection are more than 100 films depicting life in Manchester and the North West.

7. 200 PCs

Almost 200 PCs are available for use over five floors, plus a new suite of Macs and PCs in the media lounge and Wi-Fi access is completely free throughout the library.

8. Famous echo

Acoustic treatment in the distinctive Reading Room has halved the reverberation time of its famous echo, while retaining the room’s distinctive character. The Reading Room is large enough to accommodate 300 readers.

9. Hilary Mantel

Double Booker Prize-winner Hilary Mantel researched and wrote much of her first novel ‘A Place of Greater Safety’ at Manchester Central Library, while working at Kendals on Deansgate.

10. Precious treasures

Central Library’s most precious treasures were stored in the Cheshire salt mines during the transformation, including 44,000 items which were published before 1840 and more than 30 works dating back to the 15th century.

Credit & Photography: Manchester City Council

Did we miss something? Let us know: [email protected]

Want to be the first to receive all the latest news stories, what’s on and events from the heart of Manchester? Sign up here.


Manchester is a successful city, but there are many people that suffer. The I Love MCR Foundation helps raise vital funds to help improve the lives and prospects of people and communities across Greater Manchester – and we can’t do it without your help. So please donate or fundraise what you can because investing in your local community to help it thrive can be a massively rewarding experience. Thank you in advance!

Got a story worth sharing?

What’s the story? We are all ears when it comes to positive news and inspiring stories. You can send story ideas to [email protected]

Close this search box.