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Libraries Henry Watson Music Library

About the Henry Watson Music Library

The Henry Watson Music Library is named after Dr. Henry Watson, a renowned composer and teacher born in nearby Accrington.  He gifted the contents of his private library to the care of Manchester City Council in 1902. Watson's original collection (some 16,700 volumes) has been supplemented by many important donations and acquisitions since and has grown into one of the largest collections of music in any public library.

The library today - contains some 380,000 books and individual items of music, including:


  • monographs (some 9,500 books on western and non-western art music, folk, jazz and popular music) 
  • periodicals (50 popular and scholarly titles with extensive back-runs)

Printed music:

  • printed music (vocal, choral, orchestral and popular music) 
  • early printed music and manuscript collections 

Most of the material is available for loan but a a selection of reference works is available for research and study purposes or for leisure reading.

Pre-1850 and rare material and Henry Watson's own collection are held in the library's strong rooms. These books are available in the Central Library search room with at least one day's notice - request to view books in the search room.

Sets of choral and orchestral music are available to hire for registered societies.

Library members can use our free on-line reference library, this carries a huge number of resources including online music such as Oxford Music Online and Naxos, where you can listen to music free of charge.

Contact  if you have any enquiries.

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