In our open access library you'll find extensive secondary reading and primary resources telling the story of race, migration and diversity in Manchester, the UK and the USA. Whatever topics you're interested in, you'll find something relevant in our subject sections:

History (HI), Politics (PO), Culture and Identity (CU), Arts, Media and Sport (AR), Housing (HO), Immigration (IM), Health (HE), Welfare (WE), Gender and Family Studies (GE), Education (ED), Employment (EM), Local Studies (MAN)


Some highlights of the library collection are:

US Civil Rights: We hold many of the key Civil Rights texts, including the 'Martin Luther King Papers', 'The Autobiography of Malcolm X' and the 'Eyes on the Prize' documentary, as well as harder to find pamphlets, reports and biographies, demonstrating that the struggle for civil rights started much earlier than what we call the Civil Rights period, and has continued since.

Education: Our Education section documents the debates around race and schooling in the UK from the 1960s to the present day. We also hold a wide range of teaching materials and children's books, which enable teachers to deliver elements of anti-racist education.

UK race policy and practice: We hold a full set of publications by the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) as well as reports published by the Runnymede Trust and Institute of Race Relations, documenting the changing issues around race relations in the UK since the 1960s.
You can now access the full collection of CRE publications online, via our digital collection at the University of Manchester Library.

Arts and photography: Following a donation from the National Black Arts Alliance we have some beautiful books showcasing the visual art and craft traditions of African, Caribbean and South Asian cultures. We also have some significant documentary photography books, including the now out of print 'Black Panthers 1968' and Civil Rights document 'Mine Eyes Have Seen'.

Read about our Local studies material

Read about our Rare and controversial books

Using the library

The library is open any time that Central Library is open and we staff our enquiry desk on weekdays, 9.30am to 4.30am. The different sections of the library are clearly signposted making it ideal for browsing and discovering. You can also search for specific resources in the Manchester Libraries catalogue.

Approximately two thirds of the library collection is loanable to anyone with a Manchester Libraries card. Reference only material is clearly labelled and can be studied anywhere within Central Library.

Read more about visiting and searching the library on our Access page.

We use a unique classification scheme for our library, which you may notice is different from the system used by the rest of Central Library. It is designed to make a small, specialist collection like ours as easy to use as possible.

For example, 'Life of Martin Luther King Jr' by Emma Lynch is classified as HI.3.02/LYN:
- HI = first two letters of the library section, in this case 'History'
- 3.02 = the subsection (in this case 'US Civil Rights')
- LYN = first three letters of the author's surname

We're very happy to help you find things, just ask at our desk.