If, like me, you're a bit skint but can't bear to be sat on your jacksie doing nothing all day, there's no need to despair when in Manchester, as there are a number of attractions which don't require an admission fee - John Rylands Library being one of them. This pleases me immensely as one of my favourite pastimes happens to be wandering around historic sites and buildings.
This huge, gothic masterpiece, situated on Deansgate, could be mistaken for a church on the outside (I suppose it is a place of worship of sorts, if you're into reading manuscripts from a long, long, LONG time ago) but once inside, this literary treasure trove will blow you away.
This vast space is home to not only some of the world's oldest and most important archives, but some truly amazing architecture too. If you become a member, which I may well do, you can sit and study or read in the alcoves of the main hall, where you're certain to find absolute peace and tranquility. Although, if I do sign up, I will be tempted to don a black cloak and prance around the place with a wand in my hand, pretending I'm on my way to class (at Hogwart's, no less - I would be in Ravenclaw, just for the record).
I'm no history buff so I can't give you dates and stats on the origins of the artefacts housed in John Rylands or the building itself, but that's for you to find out when you go anyway - why should I do all the hard work for you? Just kidding! :-)
All you need to know is that it's a fascinating place and well worth a visit if you want an injection of FREE culture.
There's a lovely cafe just next to the reception which offers an assortment of good-looking cakes (mmmm... cakes...) and a souvineer shop, which sells everything from over-sized wands - sorry - I mean PENCILS, to postcards and books.
John Rylands is a must-see for anyone who wants to escape the hustle and bustle of the shopping streets and indulge in something a little bit different.
Admission is free and basically, i wish it was bigger. I absolutely loved it and wished it was larger so that i could have more to see. I can so feel that history and knowledge exuding from the walls. Or rather the ceiling (absolutely gorgeous). And the seating area where the public are allowed to seat....pity that it was that university students were having their exams soon as the place was swamped with students. I don't blame them! I wanted to pick up a book and start studying too!
Was taken there by a friend on a visit to Manchester. First thing to hit me was the actual building when approaching.
Built in the 1890s, the John Rylands Library is regarded as one of the most beautiful libraries in the world, I have to agree.
A Victorian Gothic building, I was in my element.
The rooms and hallways are stunning.
The special collections, believed to be among the largest in the United Kingdom, include medieval illuminated manuscripts and examples of the earliest forms of European printing,
Just love it there, and love that you can take photographs.
Both the glassy and white new library extension and the original building are worth a look. And whilst the red sandstone gothic exterior looming over you on the Deansgate pavement looks a bit dark and intimidating, the interior is beautifully ornate and soothing so don't judge a book by its cover!
Although John Rylands Library no doubt has hidden depths of knowledge for the studious, it is also perfectly delightful for an hour or even 30-minute walk around inside. The dimly-lit corridors feel a lot like a monastery, and the stonework, wooden and stained glass ornamentation reaches its fantastic crescendo in the old Reading Room.
There is a changing exhibition in the glass cases of the Reading Room, usually with a historical theme using JRL archive material. I've always found these exhibitions low-key but fascinating, and they really manage to bring the themes, the people and their stories alive. The current exhibition is on the lives of orphans in Manchester back in the day. (Apparently Manchester did a better job than most cities of looking after children with nowhere else to go, and the refuge houses were 100% funded by private donations.) An earlier exhibition was on the lives of the rich 'ladies of the house'.
A new feature that I noticed on my last visit is an interactive computer screen which allows you to turn the pages of a digital copies of what can sometimes be very old and fragile books - in this case, the JRL copy of the Koran.
One thing that makes me smile is the juxtaposition on Deansgate/Spinningfields of three very different glass buildings - Armani, Australasia restaurant, and the JRL extension. 'Who chooseth me....'
As a student of the University of Manchester I'm proud to claim this piece of culture as one the gems in the crown. Go inside basically, recently redeveloped John Rylands has ancient texts of all kinds for you to take in and observe.
Most notably a piece of the new testament from the bible, no joke. Stare at it and you'll question reality, and then even maybe go and get baptised. John Rylands is saturated in history with one of the biggest collections in the UK; this includes pieces from Karl Marx and ancient maps of the city. If none of this interests you (your mentally inert) JR is still an shelter from the hustle and bustle from central Manchester, somewhere you can breath as it were. Also got a little shop (standard) with the classic collection of museum bit nostalgic (rubbers with JR on etc).
In times of yore, architecture was often used as a signifier of power. Cathedrals were built to humbling proportions which would dwarf lowly humans as they stretched towards the heavens - they were designed to bring the celestial to ground, but the message couldn't have been clearer - don't. Mess. With. The. Church. They own you.
Look at John Rylands - radiating gothic grandeur and gloom amidst the modernity and art deco of Deansgate - even on the sunniest of days, dark clouds seem to hang above this building. Libraries give us power. Knowledge is power. Its shadows are edifying.
I had the pleasure, the privilege and, dare I say it, the honour to use this place as it were originally intended whilst completing my undergraduate degree in History at the University of Manchester. Those works within are ancient - sensitive to light, they demand your respect. They can only be handled with shaky, reverential hands.
Just good to know it's there, you know?
Deansgate Library is an absolute joy for a student of Medieval Literature such as myself (this is not all I study). The manuscript collections held are nothing short of unbelievable. They hold great collections of Chuacer's works as well as many less famous relics from the past.
In addition to the material, you get to read in the perfect environment, a blend of the modern and the old that's both quaint and classy. Glass panels and walls surround tables and chairs that look like they, like the books, are from the Middle Ages, only they're in mint condition.
You have to read there as most of the books, if not all, are reference only. You also may need to use a foam book holder to protect the precious pages and a rope to hold the pages apart, to stop your grubby modern fingers from contaminating the Medieval script. You may see this as annoying but for me it all contributes to the charm.
The John Ryland's Deasngate is one of the real centre-pieces of Manchester University, and as a city in which the university is an important centre. Its one of the tings that contributes to the aura of Manchester as a pioneering centre of knowledge, development and learning.
Wow at the amazing gothic architecture.
Wow at the ancient texts within.
Wow at the fact that hardly anyone I speak to has even been here.
There are very old editions of the Bible (which I was lucky enough to look at in detail as part of my course) and the library displays a 1476 William Caxton edition of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, thought to be the first book printed in England. Aside from the thousands of old tomes (many of which are hidden away), there are some really interesting exhibitions.
But please don't confuse this with the John Rylands University Library. JRL is on Deansgate, and JRUL is just off Oxford Road. JRUL is not quite so spectacular and is not open to the general public.
JRL is the only library I have ever been to that has the wow factor.
Disappointed with the state of the main John Rylands University library on Oxford Road, I was miserable at the prospect of spending my days, afternoons and nights in that stupidly organised, nightmare of a place. So this was the University library, the hub of student imagination and intelligizing. Great.
When I discovered John Rylands on Deansgate, known as special collections to definitely not mistake it with the other, I was so overwhelmed. Not only is it ten minutes wander from my home but just look at the place. It looks quite scary from the outside, with its intricate neo-gothic architecture but I can tell you if you go inside, you'll be fascinated with its beauty. It houses a collection of very old medieval stuffs and very early forms of European prints in general.
I sit in the Elvesier Reading room on the third floor with my laptop to work. It unfortunately doesn't have any books related to my course but I enjoy this place for what it is which is enough for when I need to just type or read my online journals. It's often not one hundred percent quiet as there's often tours going on, if not the odd curious tourist lapping up the not to be missed in Manchester. There's often things on for the family and the children such as a storytelling workshop which was held recently.
There's a little cafe downstairs also which is handy for the spot of caffeine and tea for a break from the reading. I'm thankful for this alternative to the daily grime of the library on Oxford Road. If only it was 24 hour opening times..
The John Rylands Library on Deansgate is truly the architectural masterpiece of Manchester. The building strikes a dominating figure on Deansgate, and has lost none of its impact. Its glorious gothic façade has such gravitas, the building exudes class and history, and lulls you inside.
Reopened after extensive restoration, refurbishment and extension, the John Rylands Library is one of the most important historical collections of manuscripts in the UK and, amonst other items, holds an original printed copy of the New Testament. Recently extended with a fantastic new building, the library can be used as a resource for students at the University (and to study in their main library would be a dream - the building is stunning), as well as a venue for lectures and literary themed events.
In this way, the John Rylands Library is not just for books, but for the arts as well, as it offers itself as a platform for new writers, new initiatives and plays host to some of the biggest names in literature, who sometimes give talks here. It is a fantastic boon for Manchester, and should be appreciated more and more.
This is an amazing neo gothic building in central manchester at 100 Deansgate. It houses collections of exquisite medieval illuminated manuscripts, examples of the earliest forms of European printing including the Gutenberg Bible, as well as the personal papers of distinguished historical figures including Elizabeth Gaskell, John Dalton and John Wesley.
Worth a visit for the spectacle
Basically, the library to end all libraries. I bet it's more impressive than the great library. It certainly is now anyway.
I never really got to grips with library study, being confused by the Dewy decimal system, and distracted by the girls. But, I did love the range of incredibly geeky books here. Good times!
My buddy invited me to stay with him on my vacation, so I could finally get a chance to visit Jolly Olde England. (Up to that point, I had been through Heathrow several times, but never escaped the confines of the airport, because I was always on my way through to somewhere else.)
Shortly after I arrived, I was looking through a map book he had, and was checking out the sites to be seen in Manchester, which was the nearest city. "There's nothing to see in Manchester", he opined.
Just at that moment, my eyes lit upon the magic words, "John Rylands Library", so I retorted, "Oh yes, there is!"
The library is lovely red sandstone building which looks sort of like a church. We went inside, and climbed the stairs to a large room with stained glass windows, statues along the walls, and (one of my all-time favourite fantasies) floor-to-ceiling books.
I went up to a desk, and asked them if it was possible to see a particular document. We had to wait a bit, because a tour group was going through the library at the moment, and being shown the manuscript, but sure enough, they brought it out, encased in glass. After all, 1,880-year-old papyri are fragile. Yes, I saw, with my own two eyes, the fragment of John in the Rylands Library, the oldest New Testament manuscript known to exist. They brought it out and showed it to us, and explained what they knew about it, just because I asked!
(While we were waiting for them to bring out the John manuscript, I noticed a copy of Captain George Vancouver's account of his travels on one shelf.)
This place is a bibliophile's fantasy come true.
John Rylands Library, Deansgate is one of Manchester's treasures. Founded in 1889 the library houses Manchester University's Special Collections. Their catalogue includes the personal papers of well known historical figures including Elizabeth Gaskell, John Dalton and John Wesley.
Though well-known to students and academics (that's how I first became aware of it), the library is perhaps lesser known to the general public. With two forms of ID anyone over the age of 18 can register to become a reader. It's a closed access library, which means you have to request the books and manuscripts by filling in a form and you can't take them away with you.
A great way to get to learn about the collections is to visit one of their exhibitions, of which there are many.
The gothic building itself is also worthy of note and a reason in itself to visit.
I love libraries and on a recent visit to Manchester I found the Holy Grail. The outside of the building is beautiful and inside the juxtaposition between the old and the new has been managed superbly. I was so overwhelmed by the combination of form and function and especially loved the study carrels in the main room. It made me regret giving up a life of research, I would visit here every day if I lived in Manchester.
This is a beautiful library that encompasses both the original structure and a modern attachment that was built into it seamlessly. Entrance to the library is free, and it is really interesting to see in the exhibits the details that went into some of the more ancient books. I highly recommend this as a must-do when you are visiting Manchester.
Took a visit just to have a look around the building. Beautiful architecture and there is even a nice cafe on the way out!
This library is invariably under the shadow of the bigger University of Manchester John Rylands library, however don't underestimate this library, its large variety of books, friendly staff and good quiet atmosphere. I personally have used this library during the exam times when all the libraries around the university are stuffed to the rafters of stressed students. It was a better place to revise and a great chance to see parts of the city you don't normally see on your walk there.
This was built as a memorial to Enriqueta Rylands dead husband hence the name and opened way back in the 1900's so is very old.As a wonderful large collection of books and the stylke of the building is amazing.The reading room is very nice and includes stained glass and sculptures .
John Rylands library is simply stunning. It is neo gothic and takes pride of place in the busy hub of Deansgate, a hidden gem that not enough people visit. They have over 4 million texts including illumiatec texts and texts from the Gutenberg Bible which are on display. If you are interested in antique or very rare books this is definitly the place for you. They hold one of the earlist surving texts of St Johns Gospel from 200AD and many others that are nearly as old. The building its self is a marvel and even if you are not interest in their collections, the architecture is worth a visit alone. When you go inside it is like entering another world, with small gothic arches, towering book shelves and a real magical atmosphere.
If you cannot get to the library you can also look through their online catalogue. If you have a spare day free go to this library as it is probably the most important building in Manchester.
One of the best libraries in the country and is only getting better. A great variety of books, friendly staff, modern and easy to use facilities, can you ask for anymore
Has wonderful collection of books, as one would expect, but inside and out is the most wonderful expression of Victorian Gothic Architecture and design in the north of England.
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