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Our Complete Guide to John Rylands Library

Our Complete Guide to John Rylands Library 

The John Rylands Library is deemed as the ‘library of all libraries’ here in Great Britain. It’s one of the oldest and most renowned establishments that puts a mark in British history—and it’s a fantastic place to explore and read through its amazing books as well! 

Is it your first time coming to the John Rylands Library in Manchester? Buckle up, because here’s our complete and fun guide to this amazing and captivating library! 

Time Zone

British Summer Time (GMT+1)

Best Time To Go 

Weekdays: If you prefer a more relaxed vibe and fewer crowds, weekdays are your go-to! From Wednesday through Friday, especially in the mornings or late afternoons, you’ll have a better chance to explore the library without too many people bustling around.

Off-peak hours: To have the library all to yourself (or nearly), aim for the off-peak hours. These are usually during the middle of the day when most folks are busy with lunch or work. 

Sneak in around 11 AM or 2 PM during its opening hours, and you might feel like the library is your own personal playground!

Avoid exam season: If you’re looking for a quiet and peaceful experience, try to steer clear of exam season. 

Students might be cramming and studying, creating a bit of hustle and bustle. So, it’s best to plan your visit outside those stressful times.

Check their events: Keep an eye on the library’s website or social media pages for any exciting events happening during your visit. They often have cool exhibitions, talks, or workshops that can add an extra touch of fun to your experience.

How to Get Around

Trains: The fastest way to get to John Rylands Library is through the nearest railway station from Salford Central. It takes 2 minutes to arrive from anywhere near Manchester and you’ll find the library on the other end of the River Irwell on Deansgate. 

Buses: The best and cheapest way to get around John Rylands Library is by bus. It’ll only take 5 minutes (around 0.4 kilometres) from King Street and Deansgate on train A56 Burnley Station via X41 Red Express or X43 Witchway

Taxis: Aside from hitching a taxi, you can also use sites or apps like Taxicode or Minicabit to get around John Rylands Library fairly quickly. Do note that these rates vary from cab to cab and may be a tad more costly than that of the other two options above. 

Car service: If you have some cash to spare, you can go for the more comfortable and safer options with car services like Uber and Blacklane.

Things To Know

Currency: Euro
(Check the current exchange rate)

Language: UK English

Calling Code: +44

Address: 150 Deansgate, Manchester M3 3EH, United Kingdom


Contact Details: +441613060555

Opening Hours: Wednesday to Saturday 10 AM to 5 PM; Sunday to Tuesday, Closed

Interesting Things about John Rylands Library

The John Rylands Library was built to honour someone 

John Rylands Library was built in Manchester to honour Enriqueta Rylands’ wealthy husband, John Rylands. She decided to create a library that would be super fancy and opulent, like a Victorian dream. 

So, she hired some architects and they built this magnificent library as a grand tribute to John. It’s like a treasure trove of rare books and manuscripts, and it’s open for all the bookworms and history nerds to enjoy. 

John Ryland’s wife built the library 

The John Rylands Library was constructed by Enriqueta Rylands to honour her late husband, John Rylands. She decided to construct this stunning library in Manchester, UK, and it was completed in 1899. 

Enriqueta spared no expense and made sure it looked like a fairytale castle. It’s now a fancy place where bookworms can go crazy and admire its amazing architecture.

The Library was named after John Rylands himself

The name ‘Rylands’ in John Rylands Library comes from its founder, John Rylands, who was honoured by his wife Enriqueta Rylands through the establishment of the library.

Why was the historic library named after him? Well, the library was named after him because he had a great impact on the city and also happens to have had a passion for books— and thus, Manchester’s most popular library was born!

John Rylands left a huge impact on Manchester 

John Rylands, a wealthy cotton magnate, left a remarkable impact on Manchester because he transformed the city with his passion and generosity during the industrial revolution. 

Back in the 19th century, Manchester was a bustling industrial hub, but it lacked educational opportunities. Enter Mr. Rylands, who decided to do something about it.

He had a grand vision of creating a splendid library that would be a beacon of knowledge and culture. And boy, did he deliver! 

The John Rylands Library, now an architectural gem, was built in his memory. It’s like a Hogwarts for book lovers, with its stunning Gothic design and an impressive collection that would make Belle from Beauty and the Beast jealous!

The John Rylands Library houses the ‘first modern book’ in history

The John Rylands Library is home to one of the world’s most extensive collections of printed books (books about manchester) and manuscripts, including rare and significant items. 

One notable treasure is the Gutenberg Bible, which is considered one of the most important books in the history of printing. It is one of only a handful of complete copies in existence.

The Gutenberg Bible is often hailed as the ‘first modern book’ and holds a special place in printing history. Crafted by Johannes Gutenberg in the 15th century, it was a game-changer. 

This book became the poster child of this printing revolution, forever changing the way we spread knowledge. It’s a true pioneer in the world of printing, and we owe a lot to Gutenberg’s ingenious invention.

What to Do in John Rylands Library 

Study and use the books as references 

The John Rylands Library is a fantastic place to study. With its serene and scholarly atmosphere, it offers a perfect setting for focused learning. 

The library provides ample reading spaces, comfortable seating, and a peaceful environment that promotes concentration and productivity. 

What’s even better is you can find almost any reference book on the shelves regardless of what you’re actually studying!

Psychology major? No problem! You have about hundreds of Freudian and Jungian textbooks of the variety you can possibly imagine when visiting the John Rylands Library! 

Discover rare books and manuscripts

One of the highlights of the John Rylands Library is its outstanding collection of mediaeval manuscripts. 

These beautifully crafted works are a testament to the artistry and intellectual endeavours of past generations. 

As you carefully turn the pages of these ancient manuscripts, you can almost feel the presence of the scribes and illuminators who dedicated their skills to their life’s work. 

Of course, you really can’t read all the thousands of books there— but you can try to read as many as you can anyway like I have when I visit there! 

Visit the Reading Room

The John Rylands Library has one of the most solemn and beautiful reading rooms in the UK. Here, the Reading Room at John Rylands Library is a really cool place to check out. 

Inside, you’ll find a ton of rare books, manuscripts, and historical documents. They’ve got everything from ancient texts to modern classics. You’ll feel like you’re in a scavenger hunt of knowledge from different times and subjects.

The best part is, you can chill out and do your own reading or research there. Whether you’re a student, a nerd, or just curious, the library staff are there to help you find what you’re looking for.

Attend exhibitions and displays

Another item for your to-do list when visiting John Rylands is exploring the captivating exhibitions at the Library! You can immerse yourself in history and literature through original manuscripts, first editions, ancient maps, and more. 

The curated displays shed light on different historical periods, literary movements, and cultural phenomena. 

What’s even more amazing is the knowledgeable staff will be there to provide insights and answer your questions, enhancing your educational experience. 

Don’t miss the chance to engage with fascinating artefacts firsthand that tell you the beautiful story of Manchester’s rich past!

Join a guided tour

Exploring the John Rylands Library on your own is fascinating, but want to take your visit to the next level? You can join a guided tour to enhance your experience even further. 

Expert guides spill the beans on the library’s history, jaw-dropping collections, and juicy stories. They’ll geek out about the architecture, design, and purpose, and dish out fascinating tales of the people and events that rocked this place. 

So, expect to soak up the library’s true significance while you’re taking these amazing tours!

Attend lectures and events

As you should already know by now, the John Rylands Library is not only home to some of the greatest and most significant books in the UK, but it’s also a great place to meet great speakers and famous authors. 

They’ve got top-notch speakers giving talks on all sorts of fascinating topics. Think history, art, science, and way more.

Sometimes, the library hosts renowned authors (famous people manchester) who visit there as well like J.K. Rowling who has a strong history in Manchester. 

It’s like a playground for your brain, where you can dive into all kinds of cool subjects and discover new perspectives. Plus, you’ll meet tons of awesome people who share your love for learning.

Browse the gift shop

That’s right, there is a gift shop in John Rylands Library! It’s certainly a must that you stop by so you can buy cheap books, merchandise, and souvenirs if you’re into those! 

You can also find unique literary treasures, cool stationery, and book-themed goodies. It’s perfect for finding gifts or treating yourself or your loved ones like family and friends. 

Capture memories through photographs 

When visiting a beautiful place like the John Rylands Library, it’s best to bring with you your camera or smartphone and take memorable photographs to capture the great memories! 

Remember, the John Rylands Library is a breathtaking Victorian building that has godly views from the ceilings down to the floors! It’s best to be in awe, and while you’re at it, you can do so behind the lens of the camera. 

Engage with digital resources

Lastly, it doesn’t hurt to check out the intuitive digital resources inside John Rylands. By exploring the digital resources, you can delve deeper into the library’s extensive collection without physically handling the delicate manuscripts and rare books. 

The library offers a range of digitised materials, including historical photographs (family photography manchester), digitised manuscripts, and interactive exhibits.

Through interactive displays and touchscreens, you can access virtual versions of ancient texts, zoom in to examine intricate details, and explore annotations and translations fairly easily. 

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