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About

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.

We now have a booking system for our Library tours, which are usually every weekday at 11.00am and 2.30pm. With numbers limited to protect these delicate ancient buildings, bookings must be made in advance.

For further details please see our visitors page

Chetham’s Library is open to readers Monday to Friday 09.00-12.30 and 13.30-16.30pm by prior appointment. Please contact us to arrange a study visit.