Gill Williamson is a volunteer and Patron of Chetham’s Library,
spending one day a week greeting visitors and guiding them to and around
How long have you been volunteering with Chetham’s Library and what was it that initially drew you to us?
started as a volunteer 15 months ago. I had some spare time and sought
an activity which would be useful to the organisation concerned, would
feed my own interests and also bring me into contact with diverse
people. I was particularly attracted by the idea of being in at the
beginning of the heritage project involving the medieval buildings.
Can you tell me a little bit about your favourite piece or area of the library?
volume of visitors means that there is little opportunity to enjoy the
collections during the volunteer day. The real opportunities for this
comes through membership of the Patrons´ Scheme, when books are set out
and put in their historical and literary context for members. I also see
books from time to time, which have been prepared for readers or
visiting groups. The highlights for me in terms of the Library´s
holdings have come by chance. The first time I came to the Library, as
part of a Heritage Evening, some wonderful maps of old Manchester had
been put out and Michael [Powell, Librarian] talked to us about them.
What would you say to those thinking of also volunteering for the Library?
the short term, whilst escorting visitors for safe-guarding reasons is a
major part of the role, you need to be physically fit, to manage the
logistics of individuals and groups turning up unannounced and be
determined to give them an enriching experience. In the longer term, the
visitors´and heritage areas will be separated: then the task and
satisfactions will lie in making the Chetham´s Heritage site the
highlight of a visit to Manchester. If you like interacting with people
and enjoy history, you will love it. You will also have some first-class
colleagues to work with.
Why did you choose to support the Library through the Patron´s Scheme?
see myself first and foremost as a Chetham´s patron, wanting to support
all aspects of its activities. I was not aware of the Library Patrons
Scheme until I became a volunteer and had believed the Library´s
interests to be addressed along with those of the School through
channels such as the Humphrey Chetham Club. When I see the many books
which need restoration and the untapped potential for bringing the
Library buildings right into the heart of Manchester´s visitor offering,
I am delighted to give it specific support. Patronage also gives
privileged access to some of the gems in the collection.
Chetham's Library was founded in 1653 and is the oldest surviving public library in Britain. It is housed in a medieval sandstone building in the city centre of Manchester which dates from 1421. To find out more about the Library and its history, click here.
This is the Chetham's Library blog, where we showcase new acquisitions, post news and events, and introduce some of the treasures of the collection.
go to the chetham's library main website
Click on the image above to search the catalogue, find out more about the history of the library and the medieval buildings, and get an overview of the library's collections