Temporary home for key Jewish archive

The archives of Manchester’s Central Library will be unavailable to the public during a three-year refurbishment

The archives of Manchester’s Central Library will be unavailable to the public during a three-year refurbishment

Manchester City Council has solved a potentially serious problem for scores of Jewish studies students and researchers faced with the closure of Manchester's Central Library for three years of refurbishment.

Archives documenting the history of Manchester's Jewish community have been moved from the library as part of a four-month transfer of one million books, cleared from over 20 miles of shelves. The process, completed last Friday, included the moving of 300 metres of shelves of Jewish documents, which contain burial records dating back to 1798, and records from four Jewish schools and the Great Synagogue dating from the 1850s.

But in a major effort to keep access open to academics - and dozens of Jewish genealogy enthusiasts researching their Manchester roots - the entire archive will be temporarily stored at the Greater Manchester County Record Office in the city centre.

While requests will take two days and, in some cases, two weeks compared to just 30 minutes in the Central Library, Manchester Council's website has developed a special section on Jewish records, including a 35-page catalogue of the entire archive. The work was carried out by the Central Library's principal archivist, Kevin Bolton.

He said: "We made an effort not to send the Jewish archive collections off-site. This is because they are some of the most important collections we hold and they are well used. Both the Jewish Museum and Bill Williams (the major historian of Manchester Jewry) were kept informed of our decisions."

    Last updated: 2:00pm, August 19 2010