Manchester City Council

Libraries Take a trip through our stacks

Explore Central Library's hidden depths

Take a trip down through Manchester Central Library's stack system in this short film by David Woodcock

Beneath the Great Hall, at the heart of the library, are four levels of library stacks (storage areas). Made of steel, they directly support the reinforced concrete floors of the building and drive down into the sandstone bedrock. They contain approximately 35 miles of shelving and were designed to provide storage space for up to one million books. The stacks contain some of the oldest and most precious treasures of the library, kept in special secure areas and an underground environment-controlled archive store. When the library closes later this year, all these items have to be moved - every single one. Some will be placed into secure, climate controlled storage in a Cheshire salt mine, others will join collections at Greater Manchester County Record Office and over a million books will be retrospectively electronically catalogued, thereby improving online access for the future. And when Central Library reopens in 2013, everything will come back again. Access, storage, interpretation and display will be hugely improved, providing a fitting showcase for Manchester's treasures and history.

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