wrapped up in books


as i write this entry there are twenty minutes left to poke around inside one of the most iconic buildings in manchester. as of the end of march, manchester central library is closing it’s doors, with plans in place for a redesign of the space, culminating in the re-opening of central library and city library (located in the town hall extension) in 2013. having opened in 1934 the central library quickly became a key building in manchester, sitting alongside the town hall and the town hall extension in one of the most striking and enjoyable parts of the city. i don’t think i’m alone in thinking that library walk, the sweeping curved passage way linking st. peter’s square with mount street, is one of the most beautiful parts of manchester – with the curvature of both buildings drawing you through.

one of the most intriguing parts of the library’s refurbishment is that all the pre-1850 and precious or special collections are being moved into an underground salt mine in cheshire for storage. this deepstore facility, which is also used by the national archives, is currently the size of 700 football pitches, and is naturally free of uv light, flooding and vermin, and has consistent levels of temperature and humidity.

i really like some of the stories which are knocking around about the library. anthony burgess, the author of a clockwork orange and earthly powers, was apparently seduced by a librarian over the card indexes, whilst morrissey was ejected from the language & literature library whilst holding an impromptu photo shoot.

i took some time out today to go and soak up the atmosphere of the building one last time before closing. the murmurs in the great hall will always be one of my favourite sounds in the city centre, with the great domed ceiling deadening, then echoing, the rustling of pages and whispered discussions in the massive reading room. whilst i was stood taking all of this in a fellow library user came to ask me where to find marketing books, as this was her first visit to the library. i politely told her i had no idea, and that i was in to take photos and have a walk around the library. whilst this seemed like a perplexing idea to her at first, i saw her again later (with a couple of useful books) and she had begun to realise the beauty of the building.

on a personal level, today was a great trip out for me as it was the third different library i had visited in manchester in as many days. having been over to north city library on monday to see a tiger, i was in the more drab surroundings of the university library on tuesday. as i’ve started, i’m probably going to try and make it five in as many days. obviously the john rylands library is always worth a visit, and i’ll more than likely write about that soon. any suggestions for my fifth of the week?

a brief guide to the history and architecture of the library

information on the library closure, including links to some interesting interviews and videos

ps – i have been experimenting with some different bits of photography in this set. as usual they are all shot on my phone, but have manipulated some with the tilt shift generator app. i’m also a bit disappointed with the photos i took of the shakespeare hall, which is why there aren’t any of the wonderful civic artwork that adorns the ceiling in that space.

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4 thoughts on “wrapped up in books

  1. For some reason I had June in my head as the closing date but that’s just the main ground floor – thanks for this as I’m now going to try and get there today. Some lovely pics; my favourite is the shot of the curved walkway between buildings, you’ve captured that beautifully.

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