Welcome to Manchester Confidential
Reset Password
The Confidential websites will be undergoing routine updates. This may cause the sites to go offline. We apologise in advance for any inconvenience.

You are here: Manchester ConfidentialNews.

Central Library Refurbishment: Picture Gallery

Jonathan Schofield takes a tour round a library getting ready for the books to return

Written by . Published on October 19th 2013.


Central Library Refurbishment: Picture Gallery
 

"I WANT this to be Manchester's Living Room," says Neil MacInnes, head of Manchester's library service. "I want people to come and read here, see performances, meet up with people, enjoy it any way they can.

"The target is for two million visitors a year. That's double we had before closing. This should be Manchester's most public public building with something for everybody to enjoy."

Far more of Central Library's stunning rare books and manuscripts collection will be available to view. 

Central Library reopens in spring 2014 although the move back into the buildings begins later this year. It will be a brighter space full of natural light in which people can float around with books and materials without being told off for moving from department to department. There will be performance areas, event spaces and state of the art digital retrieval systems.

Far more of Central Library's stunning rare books and manuscripts collection will be available to view. For historians, all the disparate collections such as those in The Greater Manchester County Record Office will be housed under one roof. 

The original building dates from 1934 and was designed by Vincent Harris. The circular design was said to be inspired by the Pantheon in Rome. The two grandest spaces are the entrance hall, called the Shakespeare Hall, and the Reading Room. The former has a fine stained-glass window dedicated to William Shakespeare and grand plaster shields and coats of arms in the ceiling.

The main reading room on the first floor is round, dominated by the baldicchino motif of the clock balanced above the central desk. The original desks with eighty years of graffiti have been brought back into the space and a special sound dampening paint that will dull reverberation to about five and a half, from eleven - whatever that means - for those who can recall the domed space's startling echo.

The oldest book in Central Library is a handwritten,13th century copy of the Codex Justinianus, a code of law compiled for the Roman Emperor Justinian. The oldest printed book is a Latin Bible, from 1473. There are a total of 30 incunabula (books printed before 1501), including a copy of the famous Nuremberg Chronicles from 1493 and a book printed in 1497 by Wynkyn de Worde, who was William Caxton's successor.

Second Folio ShakespeareSecond Folio ShakespeareOther highlights include many 16th and 17th century books, covering subjects from bibles to bee-keeping. There’s a copy of Vesalius's anatomy, De Humani Corporis Fabrica, from 1555 and a 1632 Shakespeare Second Folio; Latin and English editions of Camden's Britannia and maps and atlases by John Speed and others.

Early copies of ground-breaking books in science, medicine, politics and philosophy, including works by Isaac Newton, Robert Hooke, John Evelyn and Thomas Hobbes. Fine, illustrated books on art, costume and architecture, including Pyne's Costumes of England, Stuart & Revett's Antiquities of Athens, David Roberts Holy Land and Owen Jones' Plans, Elevations, Sections and Details of the Alhambra.

There are also books which use early photographic images, including Fenton's photographs of the Crimea. Private Press Books - an extensive collection of more than 700, beautifully produced, limited edition books, from almost all the British private presses, including Strawberry Hill, Kelmscott, Doves, Eragny, Essex House, Gregynog, Nonesuch and Golden Cockerel. Amongst the Kelmscott Press editions are a fine copy of William Morris's Chaucer and three other volumes given to the library by his wife. The Golden Cockerel Press 'Four Gospels' illustrated by Eric Gill, and the Doves Press 'English Bible' are other highlights.

Alan Garbutt, construction director, told Confidential: "This has been a tremendously rewarding job, and one I'm immensely proud of given the severe engineering challenges.

"Placing the vertical circulation core in the building took months but will ensure people can comfortably use the different levels of the library, a problem with the old configuration. When it reopens in 2014 this library will be as good as it gets anywhere in the world."

The total cost of the refurbishment is around £42m excluding shared services with the Town Hall Extension. 

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here @JonathSchofield or connect via Google+

Alan Garbutt, construction director, has a smiley nap while Neil MacInnes, head of libraries, wants something putting in his helmetAlan Garbutt, construction director, has a smiley nap while Neil MacInnes, head of libraries, wants something putting in his helmet. 

The strange baldacchinoThe strange baldacchino

Wisdom is the principal thingWisdom is the principal thing

The original desks are back in placeThe original desks are back in place

The dome and the detailsThe dome and the details

It's quarter to twoIt's quarter to two

The 'oculus' - the area around the librarian desk in the centre of the Reading Room will have a class floor looking down to the archive room belowThe 'oculus' - the area around the librarian desk in the centre of the Reading Room will have a glass floor looking down to the archive room below

Sweet column sweepSweet column sweep

Old and newOld and new

Cleaned up internal wallsCleaned up internal walls

Clean outsideClean outside

The builders' boot roomThe builders' boot room

Sense of humour in the liftSense of humour in the lift

The sweet inner curve of the library above the dome of the reading roomThe sweet inner curve of the library above the dome of the reading room

Light fittingsLight fittings

Light fittings boxed offLight fittings boxed off

The false door in the Chief Librarian's office - to be used as event space when it re-opensThe false door in the Chief Librarian's office - to be used as event space when it re-opens

Manchester coat of arms on the ceiling of the Shakespeare HallManchester coat of arms on the ceiling of the Shakespeare Hall

Another version of the coat of armsAnother version of the coat of arms

Stained glass on the stairsStained glass on the stairs

Thomas Rowlandson caricature of learned library types in the special collectionsThomas Rowlandson caricature of learned library types in the special collections

The old stacks viewed through a glass wall as required by English Heritage - the old system would have provided 8 minutes fire protection the new systems provide four hoursThe old stacks viewed through a glass wall as required by English Heritage - the old system would have provided 8 minutes fire protection the new systems provide four hours

The huge highway connecting the Town Hall Extension with Central Library - it could fit four cars abreast so why...see picture belowThe huge highway connecting the Town Hall Extension with Central Library - it could fit four cars abreast so why...see picture below

The new archive section takes shape, expect state of the art archiving, digital fun, performance spaces and generally lots of peopleThe new archive section takes shape, expect state of the art archiving, digital fun, performance spaces and generally lots of people

The huge highway connecting the Town Hall Extension with Central Library - it could fit four cars abreast so why...see picture belowThe huge highway connecting the Town Hall Extension with Central Library - it could fit four cars abreast so why...see picture below

So why...see picture above, with all that capacity to transfer people between the buildings does magnificent Library Walk require being blocked with gates and a glass barrier albeit with doors?So why...see picture above, with all that capacity to transfer people between the buildings does magnificent Library Walk require being blocked with gates and a glass barrier albeit with doors? You can read our original story on the controversy that surrounds Library Walk here

Vesalius's anatomy, De Humani Corporis Fabrica, from 1555 in the rare books collectionVesalius's anatomy, De Humani Corporis Fabrica, from 1555 in the rare books collection

Like what you see? Enter your email to sign up for our newsletters which are chock-a-block with more great reviews, news, deals and savings.

13 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

SquirrelitoOctober 17th 2013.

are they still determined to stick the linking building into Library Walk?

AnonymousOctober 17th 2013.

We need Prince Charles to speak up for us, because surely he'd condemn this gating proposal if it were in London? I mean, could he not threaten to strip Leese & Bernstein of their precious knighthoods or something?

AnonymousOctober 17th 2013.

Seems like a bargain deal at that price. Hopefully the attention to detail and longevity of the modern bits won't have the original contractors spinning in their graves.

AnonymousOctober 21st 2013.

Love the Thomas Rowlandson caricature. Not happy about the glass gate/link on Library walk.

Kevin PeelOctober 21st 2013.

Wow! It's been a few months since I've had a tour, it's come on leaps and bounds! I still support ManCon and residents' view that the Library Walk 'conservatory' is unnecessary but that shouldn't overshadow the act that we're going to have one of the best libraries in the world in a few months. Off to get my hard hat on and have a nosey around!

AnonymousOctober 22nd 2013.

Although I love Central Library & look forward to it re-opening I'm still bitter about Neil MacInnes and Richard Leese deciding to remove full council funding from Burnage Library whilst making plans to improve those in Didsbury and Chorlton. Has anyone in the council heard of Burnage and do they really give a damn?

pammyranOctober 22nd 2013.

If it is in fact a 'glass floor' around the Oculus, rather than 'class floor', I feel sorry for anyone who like me, may suffer from Vertigo. Don't think I'll be wandering over to the librarian's desk when the place opens up. Either that or it will be on hands and knees.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 23rd 2013.

The glass floor is behind the counter, your vertigo should be safe. Not sure if female staff will be able to wear skirts in the summer though?

kimmiOctober 22nd 2013.

will the connecting arcade walk, between central library and the town hall extension, behave like the transitional street space that connects barton arcade from st anne's square to deansgate. i wonder.

Library Walk fanOctober 25th 2013.

Just don't do the Library Walk obstruction Manchester. It's too good a space.

Charlie ButterworthOctober 25th 2013.

Why not allow a breathing space before construction to see with the renovations whether it is necessary to insert the gates and the glass feature? Maybe the access between the Town Hall Extension and the Library in the basement will prove sufficient and the £3.5m can be directed elsewhere - maybe spent beautifying other parts of the city centre.

Lesley HampsonOctober 26th 2013.

No,no to the gates at Library walk. A travesty.

AnonymousOctober 26th 2013.

This looks like its going to be a stunning refurbishment. Kudos to the city councils in the North West for investing in library spaces despite the biting and unfair cutbacks of the last few years. This development along with the similarly stunning reimagining of Liverpool's Central Library (with its awful sixties warren of awfulness rapidly fading from memory) the North West is showing real civic pride. Libraries gave us power as the Manic Street Preachers once pointed out and long may they go on. Some will moan at the costs and quibble at the some aspects of design but well done to all involved in this investment for future generations.

To post this comment, you need to login.Please complete your login information.
OR CREATE AN ACCOUNT HERE..
Or you can login using Facebook.

Latest Rants

Anonymous

Repeating,without any evidence the same point that socialism = public services is hardly…

 Read more
Anonymous

You absolutely right,I hate all these bloody nimbys stopping development and progress.Of course if…

 Read more
Anonymous

Manchester's size and climate isn't dissimilar to Rotterdam or Dusseldorf but the city is held back…

 Read more
Anonymous

Straying off the point again David, which is that investing in public services is socialist but as…

 Read more

Explore The Site

© Mark Garner t/a Confidential Direct 2017

Privacy | Careers | Website by: Planet Code | SEO by The eWord