It is our aim that volunteering at The Portico Library will provide a rewarding experience by giving you a valuable opportunity to engage with the Library’s lively community and become immersed in its daily operations. We are currently recruiting so if you would like to learn more please fill out this form and return it to the address indicated.

Volunteers’ stories:

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Lynsey Alexander

“I moved to Manchester from Dundee, Scotland, with a view to exploring the artistic and cultural delights the city has to offer. Soon after arriving, I discovered The Portico, a library with grand, slightly intimidating, surroundings but with a magical aura that makes everyone who enters beam with kindness and warmth. The Portico Library is a gem in the heart of Manchester city centre and it needs all of our input and support to develop its good work. It is a unique resource and deserves to be admired, appreciated and utilised in all its glory. This, paired with the sheer beauty and depth of The Portico’s 19th-century special collection, means we should all do what we can to preserve it for generations to come. We know libraries and cultural institutions have a proven track record of improving our well-being and overall quality of life, and we should use this information to continue expanding the work The Portico does and who it works with. It is this that makes me so passionately want to contribute to the future of the library. So if you are looking for a cultural institution with wonderful surroundings, eclectic characters and interesting conversation, it is the place to be. Plus, there’s an abundance of fabulous books, tea and cake. What more could you ask for?”


Ruth Estevez

“Since the very first day, each time I walk into The Portico Library, I have a different experience as a volunteer. I have climbed a retractable ladder hooked to a high iron bar to place a book on a shelf that would give an eagle vertigo, pressed a buzzer behind the reception desk to open the downstairs street door, smiled and greeted visitors after they’ve climbed the flights of stairs, recounted facts about the library and explained ‘polite literature’.

At events, I have poured wine, taken £20 notes and handed back silver coins, balanced trays of empty glasses, cut cheese onto plates and emptied Italian snacks into bowls. I’ve washed up, put chairs out in rows and stacked them up again!

Smiling, talking and learning. Meeting people you’d never meet unless you were in The Portico at that particular moment. I have seen images in books beyond my imagination. I’m inspired to explore the books about female travellers and to write about what I find in their words and stories. I’ve laughed until my cheeks ache and been moved to tears. I’ve hung pictures and taken them down. I’ve popped bubble wrap. And made friends. Friends with the wonderful Portico team, library members and curious visitors.

I was a tad broken when I started volunteering after my Mum died and I had no idea how it would turn out. It turned out: I found a new life. And excitingly, a new job! I’m now Project Assistant for The Portico Sadie Massey Awards for Young Readers and Writers. By volunteering here, I have re-found myself and it’s wonderful! A massive thank you to Aoife Larkin. I don’t think even she knows how important that day, sitting over a cup of tea, when she interviewed me for a volunteer position, was going to be.”


Kaya peters

“I am studying art history and history of religion with the Open University whilst it is challenging studying and taking care of my two daughters, I wanted to begin my journey towards working in artefact conservation and restoration. It might sound dramatic but from the first day I stepped into The Portico as a volunteer I felt like I was home.

No day has been the same, unless it involves a good spread sheet. I have gained valuable knowledge from the opportunities I have been given. I have learnt how to help clean and protect some of the more delicate books, which was a dream come true. To have also helped with the exhibitions and events, gaining useful experience in public relations an events organising. However, it isn’t just these ‘out of the ordinary’ jobs that made my time here stand out; it’s the welcoming faces as you begin your shift, it’s the friendships created, it’s the sense of belonging and being a valued member of the team that makes it a unique and rewarding volunteer experience. Being involved in the daily running of the library is in its self, a job of a life time. Meeting The Portico’s eclectic members and interacting with visitors from all over the world, listening to their fascinating tales makes each day a joy.

The insight into the workings of such an incredible historical gem is humbling and awe inspiring. It really makes you appreciate the hard work that goes on behind the scenes, whether its witnessing the ins and outs of running a library or seeing the extensive research involved in putting together exhibitions and events. Volunteering at The Portico has been an experience of a lifetime and one I don’t want to end.”


The main entrance to the library is on Charlotte Street at the corner with Mosley Street. There is an intercom button next to the door and the library is up the stairs.

As a not-for-profit charity housed on the first floor of its original 200-year-old Listed Building, The Portico Library has not yet achieved fully step-free access. The Library’s current development project, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, has full accessibility as its first priority.

There is a stair-lift at the Library’s back entrance and a ground-floor accessible toilet is available to all visitors during the opening hours of the next-door Berlitz Manchester language school.

The Portico Library delivers audio-described and British Sign Language tours of every exhibition. Visit www.theportico.org.uk/events to find out when the next tours will be. If you would like more information, please speak to any member of staff on 0161 236 6785 or at admin.assistant@theportico.org.uk.