Library Lady

This weekend I intentionally went to TWO libraries. Not just one. Two. Nerd alert.

Library #1 – Manchester Central Library

Since moving to Manchester I have watched with great interest the redevelopment of the Manchester Central library. A large and commanding building situated behind the Town Hall, it has been surrounded by partitions and scaffolding and I have been eager to get inside and take a look. On Saturday it finally reopened and the public was able to visit the new and improved building. Being the eager book-beaver that I am, I was there with the rest of the nerds keen to see what sort of books I could get out on my library card. (Not that I have one yet. I signed up on Saturday.)

The building is circular and features a large dome in the centre. This is where the main reading room is located and is most definitely the high light of the building. The previous week, a friend had mentioned the whispering wall effect that he remembered being prevalent in this room when he used to go there to study. I was excited to see if this still existed or if the architects had ruined it with soundproofing. I believe it may have been reduced slightly, however as I stood in the middle of the room taking a photograph of the inside of the domed roof, I clearly heard the voice of a man who appeared to be standing right next to me and speaking directly into my ear. But there was no man! In fact, a large pillar in the centre of the room blocked my view of the person speaking as he was located directly across from me. It was fantastic! I spent about ten minutes walking around eaves dropping on conversations that were happening at the opposite end of the room from me. I plan on spending a lot of time here feeding my need to listen to other people’s conversations.

Inside the dome.

Inside the dome.

Family history plays a prominent role in the new development. There is a section dedicated to helping people research their family history and discovering more about Manchester. I plan on using these services to find out more about my own family history and trying to discover why exactly my great grandfather decided to move to Australia. Obviously he was just a wise man, but perhaps there’s more to the story.

I haven’t been a member of a library since I was a kid but wandering around the Central library on Saturday made me realise how useful it will be to me as a wandering traveller. Borrowing books from a library is a much cheaper and lighter way of reading books – I don’t need to pack them into boxes and send them on to my next destination! Yes, this is a bit of a blonde realisation and I’m sure many of you are currently shaking your heads at my ignorance. But it’s the truth. So there you go. So I joined the library on the weekend and hope to get a library card. Then I’ll be a real nerd.

Library #2 – Chetham’s Library

Located in the centre of Manchester next to the Football Museum is Chetham’s School of Music. This prestigious school is hidden quite mysteriously behind gates and a lone security guard and is difficult to infiltrate. However, the Manchester Histories Festival is currently happening throughout the city and a few buildings have been opened to the public. So I took the opportunity to go and visit Chetham’s library that I had seen photographs of and read about on various websites.

Please Ring.

Please Ring.

The school features beautiful old stone buildings that make it look like the set from Harry Potter. The library is located upstairs through a wooden doorway and you are instantly welcomed by dark wood shelves and a high half-timbered roof. It is just spectacular – you can’t help but say “WOW!” as you walk into the space. It oozes history and you can just sense the hundreds of brilliant scholars who have spent hours reading books there.

Beautiful books.

Beautiful books.

As part of the festival, there was a gentleman showcasing a wooden letter press and I stood and had a bit of a chat with him about the processes involved. We were then invited to watch a performance of ballads that had been written in Greater Manchester to spread news and stories about what had been happening in the local area. The girl performing the ballads was great and brought a spark to the ballads. I had previously read some of them as they hung on the walls of the Manchester Art Gallery but it was a completely different experience to listen to them being performed.

I was sad to leave Chetham’s library simply because it was such an enjoyable space to be in. If you get the chance to visit make sure you do.

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2 Responses to “Library Lady”

  1. Sles Wrightson says:

    Great. You CAN visit Chethams at other times, I understand, also there are lunch time concerts during the week when you can get into the confines.

  2. Jess says:

    Yeh, I know. It’s just not particularly accessible like other spaces within Manchester.

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