Shhhh, it’s been quiet in Chetham's library for 350 years

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When it was founded in 1653, it aimed to rival the college libraries of Oxbridge and provide a place for independent study in the north of England.

Today, Chetham's Library is the oldest surviving public library in Britain, housed in the centre of Manchester in a medieval sandstone building which used to be a prison and arsenal.

It was created at the behest of Humphrey Chetham, a successful cloth merchant, whose will stipulated that the Library should be 'for the use of schollars and others well affected', and instructed the librarian 'to require nothing of any man that cometh into the library'.
The trustees started a collection covering a wide range of knowledge, for the doctors, lawyers and clergy of Manchester and its surroundings but, with the advent of libraries supported by rates, the collection changed direction.

It now specialises in works on the North West, with more than 120,000 printed items, of which more than half pre-date 1850....

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