Manchester Library is situated in St. Peter’s Square, and is adjacent to the St. Peter’s Square tram stop. It has the appearance of a grand Roman building, and is reminiscent of the Pantheon. Originally a traditional lending library and reference library, it now also provides access to online digital archives, and there is a cafe inside.

Manchester was the first local authority in the UK to provide a public lending library in 1852. A new law allowed the council to impose a penny tax to pay for the library service. The Manchester Free Library was originally opened at Campfield in Castlefield (with Charles Dickens in attendance) and moved several times before opening at it’s present location in St. Peter’s Square in 1934.

The library remains the second biggest lending library in the UK, and contains 35 miles of shelving with one million books. There was previously a theatre in the basement – the Library Theatre – but this has now been incorporated into a large basement connecting to the Town Hall, and the theatre company have moved to HOME opposite Deansgate/Castlefield tram stop.