Chetham's Library

Contact details

Website: Email: Telephone: +44 (0)161 8347961

Chetham's Library

About the library

Chetham's Library is the oldest surviving free public library in the UK and was founded in 1653 as a library 'for the use of scholars and others well affected' in the will of a local merchant, Humphrey Chetham. The whole of its collections are Designated as of national importance under the Arts Council scheme.

The early collecting policy of the Library was to accumulate academic works, and it is thus strong in early modern works on theology, medicine, natural sciences, law, classics, history, geography and travel. After the mid 19th century it specialised in collecting British history with a strong bias towards the North West of England and has significant holdings of sources for Manchester history.

Its archival and manuscripts collection includes over 40 medieval MS books, hundreds of early modern MS books, antiquarian collections, and rich sources for local and regional history and for diaries and life-writing.

No membership is necessary to use any part of the collections, which are freely available to all by prior appointment.

The local library catalogue of books and printed items is available online, as is the catalogue of archives and manuscripts.

Chetham's Library also contributes to the Archives Hub. To browse descriptions of their archive materials, visit their Archives Hub information page.

Accessing materials

Can I see live document availability on Library Hub Discover? No.

Can I obtain items via inter-library loan? No - this library does not participate in the inter-library lending scheme.

Can I visit the library to view materials? Yes - see the library's website for access details. If you wish to visit it is advisable to contact the library in advance, to ensure that they can accommodate you and that the material you need will be available.


Browse all of Chetham's Library's records in Library Hub Discover here.