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Manchester Metropolitan University Library

Library of the Week: 4th April : Manchester Metropolitan University Library! Nicole Kelly from MMU has written this brilliant post to showcase the library and we find out more about the Special Collections, North West Film Archive and the Manchester Poetry Library! Thank you so much to Nicole and MMU Library for taking part.

Manchester Metropolitan University Library is at the heart of the University’s main campus set alongside the beautiful All Saints Park which is currently in bloom with spring blossom. All Saints Library is a busy, modern library, set over six floors, and is open 24/7 during the academic year. Our comprehensive collections include more than one million printed books, ebooks and journals which support learning, teaching and research in all subject areas. Our team of expert librarians provide outstanding levels of support across four faculties and 37,000 students.

We pride ourselves on being much more than just a building with books. Our libraries, archives and collections enrich lives and help creativity to flourish by providing arts and cultural experiences and knowledge across the region and internationally.

Here we’re going to explore exactly how our Special Collections Museum, North West Film Archive and Manchester Poetry Library – the latest edition to Library Service’s cultural offer – are achieving just that.

*Special Collections*

On the third floor of the All Saints Library, is the University’s Special Collections Museum.

The books, paintings and artifacts held in the Special Collections Museum date back to the original Manchester School of Art, which was established as the School of Design in 1838, and reflect the interests and practices of Manchester’s vibrant and creative historic and contemporary community.

The Special Collections Museum and its dedicated staff support teaching, learning and research at Manchester Met, and the wider communities, through hands-on access to more than 100 collections and archives. The collections are growing year on year, so there’s always something new to discover.

Highlights include one of the largest collections of artists’ books in the country, children’s books; including Edwardian boys’ adventure stories and stories for girls, The Manchester School of Art Collection, The Schmoller Collection of around 4,000 decorated papers from around the world, and The Laura Seddon Collection of more than 32,000 greetings cards. This collection holds some of the earliest and rarest examples of commercial cards, and reveals some of the Victorian’s more curious customs, including mock Valentine’s, dead bird Christmas cards and seaweed embellishments.

Some of the more unusual items held in the Collections include a brick from the original Haçienda, Manchester’s iconic nightclub and music venue which came to fame during the Madchester years of the 1980s and early 1990s. Plus, a puppet of Paul Hogarth, an alumnus of Manchester Met who went on to teach the creators of the satirical 80’s television puppet show Spitting Image.

The Special Collections Gallery showcases a regularly rotating programme of exhibitions. A Feast For The Eyes: A Journey Around Special Collections is on until August 2022 and features a selection of pieces to excite the eye and enliven the senses through a rich display of colours, textures, materials, patterns and styles.

*North West Film Archive*

The North West Film Archive is the award-winning home of the moving image heritage of the North West of England. It preserves and shares more than 50,000 items of film and video, from the pioneer days of the 1890s to productions of the present day.

The collection includes a whole variety of films made in or about Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Cheshire, Merseyside and Cumbria, including footage of Manchester’s historical textile industry, newsreels, adverts and home movies.

Based in Manchester’s beautiful Central Library, the archive serves students and researchers, the public and professionals, often supplying footage for teaching, broadcasting, exhibitions, and artistic or community projects. Visitors can drop in to use the viewing pods to view 1,600 titles instantly, and the archive also takes its films out on the road, running a series of popular public film shows across the region.

NWFA’s partnership with Archives+, an initiative which brings to life the stories of Manchester’s people and communities through local and family history collections, allows it to showcase its impressive collection of home movies and amateur films.But, while the majority of the films in the NWFA collection depict the lives of everyday people and how they lived, worked, played and went on holiday over the past 120 years, the archive does hold footage of some more familiar faces. The earliest known colour footage of The Beatles performing at a special Valentine’s show is held in the collections, plus a film from 12 July 1961 of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s visit to Manchester, just three months after he became the first person to journey into outer space.

Over the pandemic, North West Film Archive launched the Lockdown Life project calling for digital video footage from people from all over the region to help create a moving image record of what life was really like during the COVID-19 pandemic. From empty city centre streets and supermarket shelves, to home-made music videos and the ‘Superheroes of Sale’, they received a fantastic response to the initial appeal, with over 20 collections of video files passed over to the Archive for preservation.

North West Film Archive is also contributing to the BFI’s Heritage 2022 project, to digitise the most at-risk videotapes from regional and national film archives in order to preserve them for future generations. Some of those will be added to the BFI Replay platform by the end of 2022, which will make more of the UK’s lesser-known national video heritage available for all to view in UK public libraries.

*Manchester Poetry Library*

In 2021, we opened the doors to the much-anticipated Manchester Poetry Library – only the fourth library of its kind in the UK and the first within a university.

Located in the new Grosvenor building, Manchester Poetry Library is in creative company alongside the University’s prestigious Manchester Writing School, Manchester School of Theatre, Multimedia Journalism and the Language Centre.

The idea for the library came to life through the team of poets at Manchester Writing School and under the creative directorship of former Poet Laureate, Professor Carol Ann Duffy DBE, who sought to create a space where poetry belongs to everyone, is accessible, and can be enjoyed and celebrated.

The main collection consists of late 19th, 20th and 21st century poetry in English from around the world. However, its special focus is celebrating the community that makes Manchester so special, with many of the books reflecting the different languages and dialects spoken in this UNESCO City of Literature.

The library also runs events, reading groups, workshops and performances and works with community groups to nurture those interested in and inspired by poetry, from schoolchildren to professional poets.

The library’s ‘living poem’ Made in Manchester, is a collaborative work between local poet Zahid Hussain, schoolchildren and community groups who have contributed to Hussain’s poem in their own heritage language. Originally started with Manchester City Council and partners, contributions have been made in 64 languages so far, and the poem will continue until it reflects all of Manchester’s 200+ community languages. You can watch the poem being performed here.

Manchester Poetry Library stocks journals, pamphlets, books, collections, anthologies, films, big press, little press, poetry for children, and poetry in translation, and it places a special emphasis on poetry in recording.

To launch the audio collection, award-winning poet, novelist and musician, Anthony Joseph, offered up his personal collection of vinyl records that he has curated for visitors to browse, choose and drop the needle on. The records are on display at the library as part of Joseph’s Poetry on Vinyl exhibition and a record player is available for listening until Friday 22 April.

You can watch Anthony Joseph give his lecture alongside his long-time collaborator musician Andrew John at Manchester Poetry Library online.

Nicole Kelly – Manchester Metopolitan University Library

All images are copyright of Manchester Metropolitan University Library, reproduced with kind permission of the copyright holder.

You can explore the library’s collections on Discover and find further contact details on their Discover information page. 


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