Chetham's Library

Manchester, United Kingdom

Chetham's Library


Chetham's Library in Manchester, England, is the oldest free public reference library in the English-speaking world. Chetham's Hospital, which contains both the library and Chetham's School of Music, was established in 1653 under the will of Humphrey Chetham (1580–1653), for the education of "the sons of honest, industrious and painful parents", and a library for the use of scholars. The library has been in continuous use since 1653. It operates as an independent charity, open to readers free of charge, Monday-Friday 09.00-12.30 and 13.30-16.30 by prior appointment. Tours of the Library for visitors are bookable online from 2 September 2019 via the Library website.

The library holds more than 100,000 volumes of printed books, of which 60,000 were published before 1851. They include collections of 16th- and 17th-century printed works, periodicals and journals, local history sources, broadsides and ephemera. In addition to print materials, the library holds a collection of over 1,000 manuscripts, including 41 medieval texts.

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