Libraries in Chorlton and Longsight are the latest Manchester libraries set to get a re-vamp as part of the council’s ambitious £6m Libraries 2023 strategy.

Manchester currently has 22 libraries and over the last ten years there has been significant investment in the library estate to ensure they are fit for a 21st century library offer.

Under latest plans to further improve the city’s libraries – announced this week to coincide with National Libraries Week – Chorlton Library will be completely transformed and restored whilst Longsight Library will undergo a complete reconfiguration of the building along with other improvements that will help open up the building to more people and broaden the services it provides.

The planned improvements to Chorlton and Longsight libraries are in addition to work that is already well underway at other libraries in the city.

This work includes a brand-new library in Gorton, a new library at Abraham Moss in Crumpsall, and improvements to Central Library – the UK’s most visited public library – to mark seven years since its transformation, with a new children’s library opening this December, improvements to the Archives+ exhibition area, and to the computers in the building.

Throughout the last eighteen months of the pandemic it has become clearer than ever how much local people in Manchester depend on libraries.

Whilst they were closed library staff quickly rose to the challenge of working in different ways and adapted services to make sure residents were still able to access services.

In the early stages when all services moved on-line this meant supporting residents through the digital arena first – which was to some a whole new world – and then a blended model when libraries were able to open their doors again and welcome people into their buildings in a covid-secure manner.

Seven city libraries re-opened on the first day they were allowed by the Government roadmap on 4th July 2020. The day saw queues outside several of the libraries, with a customer at Longsight Library saying: “I have really missed the company of strangers.”

“Our libraries are far more than mere information hubs. They also play an active part in helping combat loneliness. They are real centres of activity, providing people with the chance to meet others and engage in a wide range of social activities, as well as providing the usual wide-ranging library services you would expect.

“Over the last year and a half we’ve seen more than ever the importance of our libraries to their local communities and how much they’re valued. They really are the beating hearts of our communities.

“We’re very proud of the difference we make through our libraries to our residents’ lives and how highly Mancunians regard them.

“We’re therefore determined to keep investing in them and are working closely with our communities across the city to ensure we continue to provide a vibrant and sustainable 21st century library service for them that meets their needs for years to come.”

Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, Executive Member for Neighbourhoods, Manchester City Council