Oldest public library in the English-speaking world reopens in Manchester

The oldest public library in the English-speaking world has reopened in Manchester, after being forced to close during the pandemic.

Chetham's Library shut its doors 15 months ago because of Covid restrictions. It is the longest period the library has been closed in its history.

The library's collection contains books dating back to the 13th century

Founded in 1653 to rival the college libraries of Oxford and Cambridge, the library is housed within Manchester's oldest building which was constructed in 1421.

It has always been a free resource for the city's students and residents. The father of communism, Karl Marx, studied at the library during the 19th century.

For now, the public will only be allowed to return as part of guided tour groups of six

Social distancing rules mean reopening is not simply a matter of unlocking the doors and dusting down its collection, so it will begin with small guided tour groups.

Librarian Fergus Wilde says his team have put some of Manchester's history on show for visitors.