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Manchester Art Fair 2024

12 Oct 2023

Exhibition: Bookends and Beginnings: Stories from our collections by our volunteers

The Portico

There are over twenty categories of books inside the Portico Library’s nineteenth-century collection. Some are stored on the highest shelf, four metres above the ground. The titles that are visible on the spines invite you to open them and to read what people read 200 years ago… They include intriguing titles like Gypsy Sorcery and Fortune Telling or curious ones such as Things not generally known. 

Our volunteers help us take care of our historic books and introduce them to our visitors. We cannot look after this collection without the support of our volunteers. Our volunteers are the people closest to our books. Some of them know a shelf so well it is like the back of their hand.

Many of our volunteers are students in arts, literature, conservation, and library management. We also have people who work in different fields, whose everyday roles are a contrast to their passion for books, reading and history. We want to celebrate the support from our volunteers and introduce their knowledge about our books as both a thank you and a way into understanding our collection.

This exhibition gathers together stories written, interpreted, and shared by our volunteers about what captivates them in the collection. From barely touched books at the top of the shelf to the irreplaceable Portico Archive, a wide range of interests are shared and explained in this display.

Read, feel, and see. We invite everyone to explore these stories and join our volunteers as they share their passion for the books inside these historic walls.

Closing Date



the Portico Library M23HY
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