Manchester City Council

Libraries Access our archives, rare books and collections

Look at our materials and sources

We have a search room on the ground floor of Central Library where you can look at our rarest and most valuable books and special collections in safe, secure conditions. 

To visit the search room, book at least one working day (Monday to Friday) in advance. For example, if you want to view a book on Monday you would need to book by midnight on Thursday.

What to use the search room for

Semi-rare items and non local or specialist microfilms

Pre-book, then collect and return these items to the search room, you're welcome to use them anywhere in the building:

  • Items marked 'historic stack' in the library catalogue
  • Henry Watson music room, semi-rare items from this collection
  • National, international and specialist periodicals on microfilm, marked 'MF' in the library catalogue (use the microfilm area on the ground floor).

Unpublished items

  • For minutes, diaries and registers etc, search the GM Lives archive catalogue. Some archive materials can take up to two weeks to retrieve from storage. These are marked 'This material is stored off-site' in the catalogue.

Search room guidelines

  • Self-service photocopying is available for a fee in the search room.
  • Please note that some items are too fragile to be copied. You are welcome to use your own camera to photograph items in the search room - there is a charge for this of £6 for half a day.
  • Bags must be left in the lockers provided.
  • No pens, food or drink are permitted in the search room - pencils only.
  • Handling guidelines are available in the search room. We have produced videos on handling volumes and handling rolled maps and plans.
  • Only original material which is not available on microfilm or digitally will be produced in the search room.

Search the library catalogue or GM Lives archive catalogue to find resources you're interested in.

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