Three years have raced by since the transformed Manchester Central Library reopened to the public – and millions of visitors from around the world have since taken advantage of everything this world-class modern library has to offer.
The Lord Mayor of Manchester, Councillor Carl Austin-Behan, joined the third anniversary celebrations by cutting a cake, before picking up a guitar during one of the regular free jamming sessions held at the Henry Watson Music Library.
The chance to join in live electric music sessions is just one of the huge variety of activities and facilities on offer in the iconic Grade-II listed library – which reopened on 22 March 2014, following a successful four-year project to completely refurbish its interior.
Since then, the library has received more than 4.1 million visitors and loaned out more than 640,000 items.
Central Library originally opened to the public 1934 and is the second largest public library in the UK. During the transformation, the magnificent Wolfson Reading Room was restored to the vision of architect E. Vincent Harris, retaining its original 1930s furniture, which was carefully restored.
The transformation project resulted in 70 per cent of the building being opened up to the public – previously only 30 per cent of the building was accessible – with an additional 2,000 sq metres opened up on the lower ground floor, as the new City Library.
Other features include a high-tech media lounge, performance and exhibition spaces, dedicated children’s and business libraries and the Archives+ family history centre.
Since 2014, around 3,750 events, educational sessions and activities have been held across the library’s four floors, including around 350 educational events.
These have included the much-loved Sunday Funday family events, which see the library open to the public on Sundays, with themed, free activities suitable for people of all ages.
Sunday Fundays are funded by the Oglesby Charitable Trust and the Manchester Central Library Development Trust.
The Central Library Development Trust runs a “Library Lovers” membership scheme, which raises funds for extra community events, live concerts, author readings, exhibitions and other cultural activities at Central Library and branch libraries.
On signing up, new ‘Library Lovers’ receive a free fine-art print featuring E. Wigglesworth’s celebrated 1934 art deco image of Central Library and St Peter’s Square. Members also receive discounts at the library’s shop and café, plus invites to events.
Neil MacInnes, Strategic Lead for Libraries, Galleries and Culture, said: “Central Library is one of the jewels in Manchester’s crown and its inspiring heritage is now matched by facilities fit for the 21st century.
“With everything from quiet study space to 3D printing to electric guitars on offer, we know that this much-loved library will continue to go from strength to strength, attracting millions more visitors in the years to come.”
The council continues to invest in libraries, with new IT and self-service facilities for customers being rolled out across the 22 libraries in 2017.
Neil MacInnes added: “We will continue to invest in the future of Central Library and our citywide network of libraries, ensuring that they have the facilities residents need and that they provide vital free learning and leisure space for everyone in Manchester.”