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Visitor tours and bookings suspended

Chetham’s Library charity is run with the generous help of a team of volunteers. Many of our volunteers are currently taking necessary precautions as a result of Covid-19. We are therefore unable to run our regular week day tours or maintain visitor access to our reading room at this time. We are extremely sorry for any inconvenience, and look forward to welcoming visitors again in due course. Library staff will still be working; please use the email addresses under ‘Contact Us‘.

Explore the Library

We can’t wait to welcome you to Chetham’s Library. We’ve put together some information to help ensure your visit is as easy as possible, and you can book your tour here now.

All funds raised from ticket sales will help us invest back into the Library, conservation projects, research projects, and a programme of events and workshops for all of our visitors.

Don’t forget by choosing Gift Aid Admission this allows the Library to reclaim tax on the whole amount paid on your ticket – that’s an extra 25 per cent – a very significant boost to our Library funds.

Notice: Due to the library sharing the site with the School of Music, we are advising all visitors who have recently travelled from areas affected by the virus COVID-19 to please consult before visiting Chetham’s Library.


Opening Times

Please book a Library Tour in advance. Tours will usually take place every weekday at 11.00am and 2.30pm, with numbers limited to protect these delicate ancient buildings – please check the booking system to see if there are tickets available for your preferred date and time.

Visitors need to be aware that for security reasons large bags and suitcases are not permitted on site (bags larger than 35cm x 40cm x 19cm). Security officers may perform random bag searches before allowing admission to the site. The nearest luggage storage is located at Shude Hill Luggage Storage

Please note: the Library is closed on public holidays, and between Christmas and New Year.

What can I expect to see?

Chetham’s has been in continuous use as a public library for over 350 years. It is housed in a beautiful sandstone building, dating from 1421, which was built to accommodate the priests of Manchester’s Collegiate Church. Join our expert volunteers on a tour packed with historical fact and fascinating stories: amongst the highlights are the gated book presses with thousands of books dating from as early as the 16th century, the historic furniture and paintings, a remarkable chained library, the desk where Marx and Engels studied, and medieval cat flaps!

Please note: some parts of the medieval buildings are not available to view as part of the Library tour. For a closer look at the Library and a full tour of the medieval buildings, we also offer guided tours through our partner Jonathan Schofield, which can be booked through his website.

Getting here

Located in the heart of Manchester’s Medieval Quarter, Chetham’s Library is easily accessible by road, tram, train and foot.

This map of the city centre shows the location of Chetham’s, which is located opposite the National Football Museum. Entry to the Library is through the main gate on Long Millgate, M3 1SB, just off Cathedral Gardens.


Access to the library is via a flight of eighteen stairs, and regrettably no lift can be installed in this listed building.

Wheelchair users and others unable to manage the stairs can still enjoy full access to the collection by the use of our ground floor rooms. Please contact us in advance with details of your requirements and we’ll do our best to help.


Chetham’s Library is open to readers Monday to Friday 9am-12.30pm and 1.30-4.30pm by prior appointment. You can explore the collections via our online catalogues.

If you discover material you’d like to see, please contact us by email or call 0161 834 7961 to make an appointment.

Appointments to consult Library materials should be made as far in advance as possible, and at least one working day in advance.

Please note: regrettably, we are not able to offer desk space to readers who are not consulting Library material. New readers may be asked to provide ID or a letter of reference.

Group study visits

We are sometimes able to accommodate larger study groups who want to access the Library to read, research, or work on aspects of the Library’s collection. Please contact us as far in advance as possible with your proposal – we would need at least one clear month in advance. Depending on circumstances, we may need to charge for arrangements of this kind.

Other languages

A history of Chetham’s Library, written by Member – Gill Williamson, is available here in a number of languages.


We regret that visitor parking is not available on site.

We are pleased to partner with Q-Park Deansgate North (Approximate postcode M3 7WJ) to offer discounted parking for all our visitors. With a discount voucher you can park for up to 8 hours in the indoor, multi-storey Q-Park for just £5. Click here for details on directions to the parking facility, which is open 24/7. To claim the discounted price, just collect a voucher from the Library during your visit and scan it when returning to the car park to pay. Card payments only are accepted.

Q-Park offers 23 disabled spaces and 4 electric car charging points. There is a fairly level journey of less than 400m from the carpark to the entrance to Chetham’s on Long Millgate.

Some of our visitors have told us that the carpark has been shut when they arrived. There are anti-speed barriers across the entrance; these will lift when you drive slowly towards them. The carpark remains open 24 hours a day.

Other public car parking is available at various locations within easy reach. You can use this list of car parks, nearby, which are managed by Manchester City Council.