Manchester Central Library

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Trips & Adventures – 22 August 2019

Our visit to the Central Library in Manchester was advertised as a “mystery trip”, but it was a bit of an open secret as the library staff decided to advertise the event publicly on a noticeboard outside the library itself as well as on their website and by email!

To tie in with Manchester Pride we had a guided tour of parts of the library which are not normally open to the general public, led by Larysa, the Archives and Heritage Specialist, followed by a handling session of the LGBT Foundation archives.

The library was constructed in 1934 in a circular design reminiscent of the Pantheon in Rome. The library’s foundation stone was laid by the Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald, and the library was officially opened by King George V. In fact Manchester was the first local authority to provide a public lending and reference library after the passing of the Public Libraries Act 1850. The Manchester Free Library opened at Campfield in September 1852 at a ceremony attended by Charles Dickens.

It was fascinating to learn that items are stored in salt mines in Cheshire as well as in the basement which was previously home to the Library Theatre. We also saw the work area where degrading reel to reel tapes are being digitalised. We ended our trip to the library by viewing some of the archived materials. Thanks to Larysa and the LGBT Foundation volunteers who provided useful information and resources.

After a very interesting tour a few of us went to Wagamama for lunch.

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