The major refurbishment of Manchester’s Town Hall complex is about to begin. This will improve services to the public and invest £165million into key civic buildings and spaces over the next five years.
Harrow Green has been awarded the prestigious contract for the provision of decant and relocation services for the Central Library project in relation to the Town Hall Complex Redevelopment Programme. The initial phase will be to remove the entire book and archive stock to offsite storage to allow for the major refurbishment to take place.
An exercise to ascertain the linear metreage of the books, maps and archives found that the Library stock comprises in the region of 4,000 linear metres of archives and 36,000 linear metres of books on shelves, as well as a wide range of material stored in chests and cabinets, such as maps, photographs and microfilms.
The Library’s book collection comprises in excess of a million volumes and is rich in old, rare and valuable material. It is estimated that 44,000 volumes from the main collection were published before 1850 and there are many works from the 18th and 17th centuries plus significant numbers of even older works, including over 30 from the 15th century. Notable special collections include the internationally renowned Henry Watson Music Library (which includes Handel manuscripts), the Theatre Collection (which includes over 18,000 playbills) and literary collections relating to the major local authors Elizabeth Gaskell and Thomas De Quincey.
Neil MacInnes, head of the library and information service for Manchester City Council said: “To move Central Library’s entire collection is an absolutely massive task and we have many extremely rare and historic books and archives that need special care. It is essential that they are handled carefully and Harrow Green’s experienced team are renowned for managing similar jobs of this size and importance. I am very pleased to have them on board to help us with this project and have every confidence that our collection is in safe hands.”
“We are very pleased to be involved with the transformation of Manchester’s Town Hall complex,” commented John Lord, manager of Harrow Green’s Manchester office. “Our extensive experience with library projects, including The John Rylands University Library, helped us win this exciting contract, and we are looking forward to working with the Manchester City Council project team to ensure Manchester’s extensive library and archive collections are cared for during the decant and safely returned to their new location.”
The move, requiring project management, specialist handling and relocation of a wide variety of unique, invaluable and irreplaceable documents, commenced early in March 2010 with completion in July. The collection will be returned on completion of the refurbished library in 2013/14.