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University of Manchester Library

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The University of Manchester Library
University of Manchester Library Main Library 2014.jpg
Main Library, The University of Manchester Library, looking towards the entrance from Burlington Street.
TypeAcademic library
LocationOxford Road, Manchester
Items collectedbooks, journals, newspapers, magazines, sound and music recordings, maps, prints, drawings and manuscripts
Sizeover 4 million items[1][2]
Access and use
Population servedGreater Manchester and worldwide
MembersThe University of Manchester (and some other groups on application)
Other information
Budgetsubject to review
DirectorChristopher Pressler

The University of Manchester Library is the library system and information service of the University of Manchester. The main library is on the Oxford Road campus of the university, with its entrance on Burlington Street. There are also ten other library sites, eight spread out across the University's campus, plus The John Rylands Library on Deansgate and the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre situated inside Manchester Central Library.

In 1851 the library of Owens College was established at Cobden House on Quay Street, Manchester. This later became the Manchester University Library (of the Victoria University of Manchester) in 1904. In July 1972 this library merged with the John Rylands Library to become the John Rylands University Library of Manchester (JRULM).[3][4]

On 1 October 2004 the library of the Victoria University of Manchester merged with the Joule Library of UMIST forming the John Rylands University Library (JRUL).[5] The Joule Library was the successor of the library of the Manchester Mechanics' Institute (established in 1824) which later became the library of the University of Manchester Institute of Science & Technology (UMIST). One of the Institute's first actions was to establish a library, with a full-time librarian, at premises in King St., Manchester. The library changed its name in the summer of 2012 to become The University of Manchester Library.

The library is one of only five National Research Libraries – an award of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), and the only one in the north of England.[6] It is a member of the North West Academic Libraries consortium (NoWAL)[7] and of Research Libraries UK consortium (RLUK). RLUK was formerly the Consortium of University Research Libraries (CURL) of which the library was a founder member in the 1980s.

The present University Librarian and Director, Christopher Pressler, is assisted by an executive team of one archivist and three librarians.[8]


The library has the largest non-legal deposit academic collection in the United Kingdom,[9] the largest collection of electronic resources of any library in the UK[9] and supports all subject areas taught by the University. The library provides its members with a range of services and materials, including an extensive collection of electronic resources. A range of services is provided for members of the public and schools.

Library buildings

The main building is on Burlington Street, west of Oxford Road: (building no. 55 on the University's Campus Guide): its oldest part is the east wing built in 1936: it was extended by south and west wings in 1953–56 and by the Muriel Stott Hall in 1978. Until 1965 it was known as the Arts Library. The Christie Building contained the library's scientific section and the medical library was in a separate building until 1981. An extension to the north designed by architects Dane, Scherrer & Hicks opened in 1981. (It had been designed in 1972 as the first instalment of a larger building.) The University of Manchester Library has a number of site libraries in other university buildings, including the Eddie Davies Library in the Manchester Business School, the Joule Library in the Sackville Street Building, the Stopford Library in the Stopford Building and the Lenagan Library in the School of Music and Drama.

Notable collections housed in the main library are the Guardian Archives, the Manchester Collection of local medical history, maps and plans, and the Christian Brethren Archive. For many years the main library housed the offices of the Manchester Medical Society which had accommodation in the University since 1874.[10]

Between summer 2009 and January 2010 part of the ground floor of the main library was refurbished.[11]


1824 – 1851

The library is made up of collections brought together on various occasions: These are the library of the Manchester Mechanics' Institute, established in 1824; the library of the Manchester Medical Society, established in 1834; the library of the Manchester Royal Infirmary from the 1750s to the late 19th century; and the Radford Library from Saint Mary's Hospital, Manchester (early obstetrical and gynaecological literature collected by surgeon Thomas Radford).[12] (The two latter collections were donated to the Medical Library in 1917 and 1927 respectively.) The library of the Manchester Mechanics' Institute was the original library which eventually became the UMIST Library (Joule Library) which was merged with the John Rylands University Library in October 2004.


The first home of the Medical School in Coupland Street, Chorlton on Medlock (as seen in 1908 looking west)[13] The medical library was accommodated here, 1874–1981
The first home of the Medical School in Coupland Street, Chorlton on Medlock (as seen in 1908 looking west)[13] The medical library was accommodated here, 1874–1981

Owens College was founded in 1851 and the college library began with donations from James Heywood (1,200 volumes) and Dr William Charles Henry in the first year. The first large addition to stock was the library of James Prince Lee, bishop of Manchester, 7,000 volumes in 1869 and then a further instalment. The collection contained theology, church history and fine art. Over the following 30 years, many additions were made such as the personal libraries of E. A. Freeman (6,000 volumes) and Robert Angus Smith (4,000 volumes).[14] In 1904 the Owens College Library became the Manchester University Library when the college merged with the Victoria University of Manchester which had been so named in 1903. The library had three locations in its early years, Cobden's House on Quay Street, the John Owens Building between 1873 and 1898 and the Christie Building from autumn 1898. From 1903 the librarian (Charles Leigh) improved the administration of the library by introducing the Dewey Decimal Classification and higher cataloguing standards. On the death of Richard Copley Christie the library received his personal library of over 8,000 volumes including many rare books from the Renaissance period. By 1933 the Christie Library's stock amounted to 256,000 volumes.Victoria University of Manchester; Calendar 1933-34; Internet Archive</ref> In 1936 the library was divided into two when the Arts Library opened on Lime Grove. Thereafter the Christie Building contained only scientific and technical literature. The medical school had its own library founded in 1834 as the library of the Manchester Medical Society accommodated in Owens College once the Medical School was established there in 1874 and on its centenary in 1934 was enriched by the Manchester Collection of Dr E. Bosdin Leech relating to the medical history of the Manchester district. From 1919 the Deaf Education collection was established and was significantly enlarged by Abraham Farrar's bequest.[15][16][17]


Moses Tyson

For the first thirty years of this period the librarian was Dr Moses Tyson (1897–1969) who had previously been keeper of western manuscripts at the John Rylands Library in Manchester. He was a historian and the first Librarian to be a member of the University Senate. The building of a new Arts Library meant that the stock had to be divided into two groups of subjects: arts and social sciences, and science and technology. The latter subjects remained in the original Christie Library though in areas of overlap there was some duplicating of entries in the library catalogues to assist the readers. By the early 1950s the stock had grown to such a size that the arts library building needed to be extended. This had been foreseen by the architects and once funds were available the building of two new wings in a similar style was undertaken between 1953 and 1957 (however the pattern of reading and stack rooms in the three wings is not the same). Features such as an exhibition hall and a department of special collections were included in the design together with improvements in the administrative accommodation. New departments had been established in the university by this time and these meant that the library extended its coverage in areas such as American studies, history of art, music and Near Eastern studies.

Frederick Ratcliffe to Christopher Pressler

After Dr Tyson's retirement in 1965 Dr F. W. Ratcliffe was appointed librarian and a period of further expansion followed which included an ambitious acquisitions policy, the beginnings of library computerisation and better liaison with the academic departments. He had a major role, with Sir William Mansfield Cooper, the vice-chancellor until 1970, in the successful merger of the John Rylands Library with the Manchester University Library on 19 July 1972. An additional extension was planned about this time though it was not built until eight years later as funding was not then available. The extension was planned as a rectangular block, in two unequal parts (the second part was never built). Before the extension could be built congestion in the library building had to be alleviated by moving some stock to other locations on the campus. The benefaction of Miss Muriel Stott, an honorary governor of the John Rylands Library, enabled the building of a tent-like octagonal hall next to the library, the Muriel Stott Conference Centre (on the building of the extension this was enclosed by the rest of the library). The design of the extension was modified when actually implemented in 1979 so that a link section united it with the three-wing existing library building. This new extension opened in the autumn term of 1981 and at the same time the medical and science (Christie) libraries were vacated so that a more coherent organisation of stock became possible.[18] By the time this building opened Dr Ratcliffe had left to be the University Librarian at Cambridge.

Ratcliffe was succeeded in 1981 by Dr Michael Pegg, formerly Librarian of the University of Birmingham, who remained until he resigned on grounds of ill health in 1991. He was followed by Christopher J. Hunt (formerly Social Sciences sub-librarian at Manchester) who later became university librarian of James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, and of La Trobe University, both in Australia, and, after returning to the UK, librarian of the British Library of Political and Economic Science, London.[19] On Mr Hunt's retirement, William G. Simpson, librarian of Trinity College, Dublin, was appointed. Mr Simpson had previously been Acting Deputy Librarian of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester until 1985 and subsequently university librarian of the Universities of London and Surrey. Mr. Simpson remained until his retirement in December 2007. During the period 2004–07 a major refurbishment of the historic John Rylands Library in the centre of Manchester, together with the construction of new visitor centre, was completed, whilst the Library as a whole merged with the libraries of UMIST and the Manchester Business School to create The John Rylands University Library, University of Manchester. Following Mr Simpson's retirement in 2007, Jan Wilkinson (then Head of Higher Education at the British Library and formerly University Librarian and Keeper of the Brotherton Collection at the University of Leeds and Deputy Librarian at the London School of Economics)[20] was appointed as University Librarian and Director of The John Rylands Library, taking up the post in January 2008.[21] In 2019, Christopher Pressler, formerly University Librarian of Dublin City University, the University of London and the University of Nottingham was appointed John Rylands University Librarian and Director of The University of Manchester Library.[22]

Former librarians

Notable librarians of the library before 1972 were Charles W. E. Leigh (1903–1935), Moses Tyson (1935–1965) and Frederick William Ratcliffe (formerly assistant librarian, librarian 1965–1980) whose years of service amount to a total of 78 years. George Wilson was librarian of the Medical Library for over 50 years.


  1. ^ "University of Manchester Library". Retrieved 14 September 2020.
  2. ^ University of Manchester Library; JISC Library Hub Discover. Retrieved 13 April 2020
  3. ^ Guardian, The (London); 20 July 1972
  4. ^ Manchester Evening News; 19 July 1972
  5. ^ MacLeod, Donald (21 October 2004). "Umist and Victoria—an impressive legacy: a timeline". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  6. ^ "Related collections". University of Manchester. Retrieved 29 November 2009.
  7. ^ Matthew Pringle. "The North West Academic Libraries". NoWAL. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
  8. ^ Executive team; accessed 2020-08-21
  9. ^ a b SCONUL Annual Library Statistics 2005–2006
  10. ^ Isherwood, Ian. "An Historic Address, 20th June 2003". Retrieved 20 February 2010.
  11. ^ John Rylands University Library. "Blue Ground Refurbishment Project". Retrieved 4 October 2009.
  12. ^ The Book of Manchester and Salford; for the British Medical Association. Manchester: George Falkner & Sons, 1929; pp. 229–232
  13. ^ The part in the foreground is the extension of 1894, to the left is the part added in 1883, further left the original building of 1874 (mostly out of view)
  14. ^ The Book of Manchester and Salford; for the British Medical Association. Manchester: George Falkner & Sons, 1929; pp. 73-75
  15. ^ Tyson, Moses (1937)
  16. ^ Leigh, Charles W. E. (ed.) (1915) Catalogue of the Christie Collection. Manchester: University Press
  17. ^ Leigh, Charles W. E. (ed.) (1932) Catalogue of the Library for Deaf Education. Manchester: University Press
  18. ^ The official opening was performed by HM Queen Elizabeth II in June 1982 (recorded on a plaque by the Main Library entrance).
  19. ^ Who's Who; "Hunt, Christopher John"
  20. ^ Jan Wilkinson "World-class ambitions", in: Library + Information Gazette; 22Feb. – 6 March 2008, p. 19
  21. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 November 2017. Retrieved 10 November 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. ^ Christopher Pressler. Retrieved 1 June 2019

Further reading

  • Pullan, Brian & Abendstern, Michele (2000) A History of the University of Manchester, 1951–73. Manchester University Press ISBN 0-7190-5670-5 Extract about Moses Tyson
  • Ratcliffe, F. W. (2007) Books, Books, Just Miles and Miles of Books: across the library counter, 1950–2000. Cambridge: F. W. Ratcliffe (unpublished autobiography held at Cambridge University Library)
  • Rigg, J. Anthony (1968) "A comparative history of the libraries of Manchester and Liverpool Universities up to 1903", in: Saunders, W. L., ed. University and Research Library Studies: some contributions from the University of Sheffield Post-graduate School of Librarianship and Information Science. Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1968
  • Taylor, Frank (1982) The John Rylands University Library of Manchester. [28] p. Manchester: John Rylands University Library of Manchester (compiled after the opening of the 1981 extension to the Main Library)
  • Tyson, Moses (1937) The Manchester University Library. Manchester: U. P. (published on the occasion of the opening of the Arts Library, which was in use from 1936: architects Thomas Worthington & Sons)

External links

This page was last edited on 5 January 2021, at 02:00
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