It’s hard to believe that on Friday 22 March we celebrate the fifth anniversary of the rebirth of Central Library after a closure of 4 years to deliver the £48m transformation programme. The library is one of the most loved and iconic places in the city and the success of the transformation is seen by the numbers of people who use the library. The figures speak for themselves.
Since 2014 there have been –
• 7.6 million visitors to the library – we are one of the most visited public libraries in the country!
• Over one million items borrowed
• 1.8 million Internet sessions
• 230,000 people have attended special events and activities – some highlights being Chaos to Order – curated by Everything Everything, who were the band in residence in 2014, and Company Chameleon’s Illuminate contemporary dance performance in 2017 – just two elements of our exciting cultural programme
• 35,000 people have attended educational sessions, such as the free Digital Drop-in
• 55,000 hours of volunteer time
Since reopening we have continued to innovate and develop new ways of providing a high quality, modern and vibrant library offer our to residents and visitors to the city, including:
• The establishment of the Central Library Development Trust, which funds our outreach and family friendly activities, such as the regular Sunday Fundays – targeted family events throughout the year.
• The Cultural Programme – Library Live (http://www.librarylive.co.uk/), launched as part of the re-visioning of the library and supported by Arts Council England and the Central Library Development Trust, is flourishing with a huge demand on both our flexible performance and exhibition spaces and often popping up in surprising spaces or taking over the whole building.
• We’ve developed a fascinating programme of exhibitions, such as Bobbins – the archive of Frank Sidebottom, and a retrospective of children’s illustrator Nick Sharratt
• The Business and Intellectual Property Centre in the Business Library inspires local entrepreneurs by hosting Start Up Days with business champions such as Wayne Hemingway and Lawrence Jones of UK Fast.
• In addition to the nationally renowned resources of the Henry Watson Music Library, we have made musical instruments available free to use in the library to inspire the next generation of Mancunian musicians
• It is also the fifth anniversary of the Archives+ partnership, which is based in Central Library. The partners, the Ahmed Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre, the North West Film Archive, the Manchester and Lancashire Family History Society, and the Greater Manchester County Records Office, as well as Central Library Archives, bring the history of the city and its people to life.
• Central Library continues to develop and grow – this year we will host the Jewish Museum whilst its premises are renovated, and we are developing a Power Reading area, promoting reading for pleasure in City Library on the lower ground floor.
The response of visitors has been very positive, and on Tripadvisor, Central Library is in the top ten of places to visit in Manchester. “Probably the best library in Britain,” said Tony K, “One of Manchester’s greatest and most enjoyable treasures and definitely not one to be missed.”
Happy Anniversary and a big thank you to all our customers and visitors and also to our fabulous library staff team and volunteers !