Chetham’s Library was founded in 1653 and is the oldest public library in the English-speaking world. It is an independent charity and the entire collection at Chetham’s Library has been designated as one of national and international importance, an accolade of which we are extremely proud.

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

To visit the Library please book here for tours. With numbers limited to protect our delicate ancient buildings, bookings must be made in advance.

Chetham’s Library is open to readers by prior appointment. Please contact us as far in advance as possible to arrange a study visit.