Manchester Central Library was reborn on Saturday 22 March, as it opened its doors to the public after undergoing a transformation during the last three and a half years.
The transformed Central Library, the second largest public library in the UK will be a major cultural destination and aims to attract two million visitors a year - twice the previous number.
It is intended to be an inclusive space, appealing to families, children and young people, and even aspiring entrepreneurs as much as more traditional library audiences.
The transformed Central Library is an exciting yet harmonious blend of old and new - with the Grade II*-listed building's many heritage features, such as the famous Reading Room, lovingly restored while new features fit for the digital age have been created.
A new Media Lounge, equipped with Apple Mac computers including creative software for would-be filmmakers, designers and gamers. Central Library offers superfast broadband throughout and has almost 200 computers for public use.
The Archives+ Centre, a destination of national and international significance for anyone interested in local or family history, bringing together an array of archives under one roof. Interactive interpretations and viewing stations for film archives will bring history alive.
This includes the North West’s first BFI Mediatheque where visitors can enjoy a wealth of film and TV for free, including a special collection devoted to Manchester and the region on film. BFI Mediatheques offer a window on the collections of the BFI National Archive, the most significant collection of film and television in the world, allowing unprecedented access to our moving image heritage. Most of the titles are not available on DVD or online. Visitors can watch as much or as little as they like: sit back and enjoy an entire feature film, take a look at fondly-remembered television shows, use the database to search for favourite subjects or discover unexpected delights among the 2,500+ available titles.
The Children's Library, is a 'Secret Garden' waiting to be discovered. Themed on the classic book by local author Frances Hodgson Burnett, it has been transformed to create an exciting hive of activity for children to enjoy. Digital interactive screens and interactive floor projections are some of the new technologies being used to entice an inquisitive younger audience into the library - with bees, the Manchester emblem, among the insects that little ones will be able to spot in the 'undergrowth' projected onto the digital wall.
The Business Library, one of only six Business and Intellectual Property Centres in England and a place where would-be inventors and entrepreneurs can access a wealth of information and one-to-one support from business advisers and even patent attorneys.
City Library, a new lending library on the lower ground floor providing an extra 2,000 sq metres of library space.
Opening up Central Library has been another major theme of the transformation. Previously only 30 per cent of the building was open to the public and 70 per cent behind the scenes. But an imaginative redesign, in consultation with English Heritage, has opened up the library and reversed these ratios.
The building is easier to get around too, with three new lifts and five new entrances including links to the Town Hall Extension.
Councillor Rosa Battle, Executive Member for Culture and Leisure, said: "The reborn Central Library is nothing short of spectacular. Anyone who liked this Manchester gem before is going to love it now. But anyone who thought Central Library wasn't for them should come and have a look too - because it is no exaggeration to say that there's something for everyone under its iconic dome.
"This transformed library is truly inspiring. It combines respect for heritage with a commitment to inspiring modern services and balances impressive and imposing areas with cosy and welcoming spaces.
"This year marks the 80th anniversary of this building's original opening. The work which has been carried out since 2010 will ensure Central Library remains a fantastic asset for the city for many decades to come."
Central Library is open Monday to Thursday 9am – 8pm, Friday and Saturday 9am – 5pm.