It is the largest non-legal deposit academic library in the United Kingdom, has the largest collection of electronic resources of any library in the UK and supports all subject areas taught by the University. The JRUL provides its members with a large number of services and resources, including an extensive range of electronic resources. A range of services is also provided for members of the public, schools and commercial companies. Entry to the main site at Burlington Street, Oxford Road Campus (formerly the Victoria University of Manchester) is via library card activated turnstiles.
The John Rylands University Library is responsible for overseeing a number of satellite libraries in other University buildings, including the Eddie Davies Library (Manchester Business School) and the Joule Library (Sackville Street Building).
The John Rylands Library was founded by Mrs Enriqueta Augustina Rylands in memory of her late husband, John Rylands. In 1890, having purchased a site on Deansgate at the heart of Manchester city centre, she commissioned a design from architect Basil Champneys. Mrs Rylands had originally intended the library as a principally theological collection and the building, a very fine example of Victorian Gothic, has much of the appearance of a church. The core of the library was formed around the collection of 40,000 books including many rarities assembled by George John Spencer, which Mrs Rylands purchased in 1892. The library was finally opened to readers on January 1, 1900.
Aside from the Main Library section, reading room with gallery above, the building also had Bible and Map rooms on the first floor, and conference and committee rooms on the ground floor. Part of the ground floor was planned as a lending library but never operated as such. A Caretaker's House also formed part of the building. Matching white marble statues of John Rylands and Enriqueta Rylands, sculpted by John Cassidy, can be seen in the reading room of the library.
The library is constructed of stone from near Penrith, Cumbria. Called "shawk", it varies in colour between buff and pink: the internal structure is of brick and reinforced concrete. The library was one of the first public buildings in Manchester to be lit by electricity and had an advanced ventilation system for the period. It became a listed building on January 25 1952 and was upgraded to Grade I on 6 June 1994.
Librarians at John Rylands before its merger include Edward Gordon Duff between 1899–1900 and Henry Guppy between 1899 and 1948 (joint Librarian with Duff until 1900). Duff was responsible for the original library catalogue, compiled between 1893 and 1899: Catalogue of the printed books and manuscripts in the John Rylands Library, Manchester; ed. E. G. Duff. Manchester: J. E. Cornish, 1899. 3 vols.
The library has since July 1972 served as the Special Collections section of the JRUL; after the demolition of the extension of 1969 a substantial new wing was added on the south-west of the site between 2004 and 2007 with the aid of substantial funding from many sources. Notably, the John Rylands Library holds what is believed to be the oldest extant New Testament document, Rylands Library Papyrus P52, the so-called St John Fragment.
A catalogue of the Turkish manuscripts in the John Rylands University Library at Manchester.(Brief article)(Book review)
Aug 01, 2011; 9789004186699 A catalogue of the Turkish manuscripts in the John Rylands University Library at Manchester. Schmidt, Jan. BRILL...