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Manchester Central Library reopens after £50 million revamp

  • Date: 28 March 2014
  • Area: North
The refurbished Manchester Central Library

The refurbished Manchester Central Library. Credit: Joel Fildes

Manchester Central Library reopened on 22 March after a three and a half year transformation which sees  the Grade II*-listed building's many heritage features, such as the famous Reading Room, lovingly restored alongside new digital features. The library, the second largest public library in the UK, now has much more of the building open to the public than previously including a new lending library providing an extra 2,000 square metres of library space.

The £50 million refurbishment aims to attract two million visitors a year, double the number when the library closed in 2010. The Arts Council has just awarded £100,000 through our Grants for the arts programme to fund a year-long cultural inspired programme. This will include a musical residential involving a number of well-known artists who will also be going out to neighbourhood libraries to work with residents and culminating in a celebration showcase in Central Library.

Alison Clark-Jenkins, Director North, Arts Council England said, 'Manchester's Central Library is an iconic and indelible part of Manchester's history and place in the world, and we were delighted to be able to use our library fund through our National Lottery funded Grants for the arts programme to help the city and its communities celebrate the rebirth and future role of the building.'

New features of the library include a new Media Lounge, equipped with creative software for would-be filmmakers, designers and gamers and The Archives+ Centre, bringing together an array of archives under one roof to help anyone interested in tracing their family or local history. The Archive includes an Elizabeth Gaskell first edition and a hand-written Roman codex unearthed locally.

Visitors can enjoy TV and film for free via the North West's first BFI Mediatheques and a Children's Library themed around Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden, complete with digital interactive screens and interactive floor projections.

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 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.'

You can see a selection of images from the launch here.