Manchester City Council

Reborn Central Library turns four

Manchester Central Library is more popular than ever before, four years on from reopening its doors following a major transformation.

More than 1.5m people visited Central Library in 2017 – up from just over 1m in 2009/2010, the final year before the project to completely refurbish the building’s interior began. 

In total, Central Library has received nearly 5.5m visitors since reopening to the public on 22 March 2014. 

Almost 50,000 people attended a packed schedule of activities, artistic performances and educational sessions held at Central Library in 2017 – a huge rise from around 5,000 people in 2009/10.

Central Library now has its own cultural programme, Library Live, which offers everything from author readings and talks to gigs, film nights, open-mic evenings and creative courses.  

Company Chameleon’s critically acclaimed ‘Illuminate’ dance performance  at the library was recently attended by 450 people.  Illuminate, which brings the characters who live within the pages of books to physical life and has since been presented at three more libraries in Manchester, was hosted to show that there are no limits to the creativity which can be generated within libraries.

Meanwhile, the first floor exhibition space hosted exhibitions including Jill Furmanovsky’s “Oasis: DNA”, which presented highlights from the legendary rock photographer’s portfolio of images of the Gallagher brothers - including some images which had never previously been displayed to the public.  

During the Central Library transformation project, the magnificent Wolfson Reading Room and its original 1930s furniture were lovingly restored to the vision of architect E. Vincent Harris.  70 per cent of the building’s space is now open to the public – compared to just 30 per cent of the building pre-transformation – with the 2,000 sq. metre City Library having been created on the lower ground floor. 

Other features on offer across the library’s four floors include performance and exhibition spaces, two cafes, a dedicated children's library and the Archives+ Centre for local and family history.

The library also hosts a Business and Intellectual Property Centre - which is holding a free Big Ideas festival for local entrepreneurs and small business tomorrow (Wednesday 21 March) – and a high-tech Media Lounge.  A fourth birthday cake will be cut on Thursday evening at the Media Lounge's regular Code Club session, where children are taught how to write computer code.  

Executive Member for Schools, Culture and Leisure, Councillor Luthfur Rahman, said: “Four years have flown by since Central Library reopened its doors and we’re very proud of the way in which its popularity continues to grow.  

“Our focus on creating an accessible, welcoming environment and providing the widest possible range of events and activities for people of all ages has been rewarded, as more and more people from Manchester and from around the globe visit the building to study, attend cultural and educational events - or just to enjoy relaxing in this beautiful city centre space, which is open to all.

“Manchester is proud of its libraries citywide and will continue to invest in their future, making sure that residents have free access to local learning and leisure space with high-quality facilities, activities and events.”

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