Chetham’s Library was founded in 1653 and is the oldest public library in the English-speaking world. We are an independent charity and the vast collection that we care for has been designated as having ‘national and international importance’.

The Library began acquiring books in August 1655, and has been adding to the collections ever since. As well as early printed books, the collection includes ephemera, manuscript diaries, letters and deeds, prints, paintings and glass lantern slides.

The Library is also known for being the place where Marx and Engels met to discuss their revolutionary ideas that changed the world. It’s also where Dr. John Dee supposedly summoned the Devil! You’ll find lots of fascinating stories about the people who have been here on one of our tours.

We’re committed to inspiring the next generation of thinkers and we do this by hosting events and tours and through conservation and research projects.

To visit the Library, please book here. Bookings must be made in advance of your visit. We are also open to readers by prior appointment. Please contact us as far in advance as possible to arrange a study visit.