View from the balcony across the Historic Reading Room during an event

John Rylands Next Chapter

The John Rylands Next Chapter project is set to enrich and transform the researcher and visitor experience at The University of Manchester's John Rylands Research Institute and Library (Rylands).

This project, a £7.6 million capital investment, is one of the lead priority areas in the Library's Imagine2030 vision. 

The Rylands Next Chapter project was initiated in 2021, almost 15 years after completion of the Unlocking the Rylands project. This project is intended to prepare the Rylands for the challenges and opportunities of the mid-21st century.

Work is expected to begin in January 2024. When complete, the redesigned spaces will enhance the Library's contribution to the University's research, student experience and public engagement with research agendas. 

Architectural key area details: proposed entrance lobby. Courtesy of Donald Insall Associates.
Architectural key area details: proposed entrance lobby. Courtesy of Donald Insall Associates.

Main changes

The main changes that visitors will see are:

  • Transformed exhibition spaces
  • Enhanced facilities to host academic and public events
  • Refreshed main entrance and reception area

Other developments include enabling access to the historic cellars (to be transformed in a future phase of the project) and improvements to workspaces for Library staff. Work will begin in January 2024 for 12 months. 

Partners

Since the Rylands is Grade-I listed, the Library is developing the proposals with sensitivity to protect and enhance one of Manchester's most important and best loved buildings. 

Permanent exhibitions design option by Nissen Richards Studio.
Permanent exhibitions design option by Nissen Richards Studio.

The Library is working closely with conservation architects Donald Insall Associates (the lead designers for the project), and Nissen Richards Studio who are developing the exciting exhibition proposals. Nissen Richards have extensive experience of creating exhibitions within historic environments. 

 

Timeline

The timeline below shows where we are with the planning of Rylands Next Chapter.

It is expected that Rylands will stay open during the project, with areas of the building closing as the redevelopment work takes place. The Library is focused on being able to continue to offer exhibitions and events in other areas of the building or other Library spaces so that visitors can continue to engage with outstanding items from the collections. 

For any questions about Rylands Next Chapter, please email uml.rylandsnextchapter@manchester.ac.uk