Britain’s oldest surviving public library

  Built in 1653, Chetham Library is located in Manchester city centre. Its medieval sandstone building was built in 1421 and was once a prison and armory. It is said to have been created to compete with the University Libraries of Oxford and Cambridge in the South East of England to provide a place for independent study and research in the North West of England.
  Today, this old, old, small library submerged in a modern metropolis complex looks too ordinary on the surface to be interesting. But its legendary history, unique management and unique collection make it full of historical charm, attracting thousands of experts and scholars every year. Many historical celebrities such as Marx, Engels, Dalton, and Joel have visited the Chetham Library, and Charlotte, the author of Jane Eyre, also has a special liking for it.
  The Chetham Library was built with donations from a successful woolen cloth merchant named Humphrey Chetham, who stated in his will that the library should be “for the use of scholars and others influenced by them. ,” and that librarians “must not make demands on anyone who comes to the library.”
  The trustees began to collect a wide range of books and periodicals for doctors, lawyers and clergy in Manchester and the surrounding area, but later as more and more libraries appeared, the Chetham Library changed its collection direction. It mainly collects writings from the North West of England. Statistics show that more than half of the more than 120,000 prints were published before 1850, including prints and periodicals from the 16th and 17th centuries, and more than 40 precious medieval manuscripts. As for modern manuscripts, that’s more.
  Among the books acquired in the early stage, many are old books. For example, in 1655, Ben Jonson’s collection of Plato’s writings was bought for £3.50. Plato is the great philosopher of ancient Greece and one of the greatest philosophers and thinkers of all Western philosophy and even the entire Western culture. A copy of 1539 Prosper of Aquitaine, read by Henry VIII, wrapped in white buckskin, was purchased in 1674 for 8 shillings. Although these prints may seem cheap, they are of high academic value.
  The Chetham Library website states: “For particularly desirable editions, we paid huge sums of money, such as a set of eight volumes of the Bible for £20. In contrast, Cheta The earliest librarians in the library were paid £10 a year plus room and board.”
  The first book the library bought was a collection of works by St Augustine, which cost £7. St. Augustine was a Christian thinker in the ancient Roman Empire and an important representative of Christian theology and the philosophy of the godfather in the Middle Ages in Europe. There are also many precious first editions in the collection, such as the Dictionary of the English Language, published in 1755 by Samuel Johnson, the British author, critic and lexicographer for seven years Just finished writing it. The English poet and political commentator Milton’s long poem “Paradise Lost” in 1667 revealed the original sin and depravity of man with epic majesty. The 16th-century English edition of the Nuremberg Chronicle by the German humanist Hartmann Schedel, published in Nuremberg on July 12, 1493, a work of world history based on the Bible It is one of the most complete early printed books with a good mix of pictures and texts. In order to prevent the theft of precious historical documents, the Chetham Library used to lock the books with chains.
  Chetham Library is now not only a centre for learning and research in the North West of England, but also a popular tourist destination, attracting a steady stream of domestic and foreign tourists every day. Humphrey Chetham’s contribution was not limited to promoting the development of local education, he also founded Chetham Hospital and a boarding school to help fight poverty, which is now a music school.
  Local resident Joan Bakewell said with pride: “The Chetham Library was and still is one of the finest 17th century libraries in the country, and my grandfather, father and I all shared The Chetham Library has forged an indissoluble bond and grew up with a love of books. The importance of the library in a child’s life cannot be underestimated.”