Chetham’s Library was founded in 1653 and is the oldest public library in the English-speaking world. It holds more than 100,000 volumes of printed books, of which 60,000 were published before 1851. These include rich collections of sixteenth and seventeenth-century printed works, periodicals, broadsides and other ephemera, with strong collections in theology, history, law, medicine, and science.
The Library defines its core collection as those works which were acquired from the 1650s up to 1851, but has actually acquired a lot of material since then, including the collection of John Byrom, shorthand writer and linguist; 3,100 broadsides and single-sheet publications; a collection of early maps; a variety of Scrapbooks containing rare ephemera; a significant collection of shorthand material; and c. 7,000 tracts and pamphlets of various dates.
The catalogue has been added as part of the Copac Challenge Fund.