Library services and facilities

Items to borrow 

Our library catalogue tells you what we have in stock and gives reading lists of suggested books on a wide variety of topics and themes.

Members can reserve books and multimedia items from any library in Cheshire East or Cheshire West and Chester and order books from libraries all over the UK. 

Find out how to borrow, renew, and reserve books and multimedia items

Books to borrow

Our libraries offer a wide range of fiction and non fiction for all ages for library members to borrow.

The range includes:

  • large print books
  • fiction in languages other than English (search our catalogue for 'French fiction', for example, or by language in the advanced search)
  • health and wellbeing books
  • English as an additional language books
  • Quick Read books - books by well-known authors written for people who find reading hard
  • Braille books and talking books on CD 
  • British Sign Language learning material
  • ebooks and online audio books

Multimedia items to borrow

Some libraries have collections of DVDs, talking books on CD, and language courses. Most DVDs have audio description and captions available. You can also reserve items from other libraries. 

There is a small charge for most multimedia loans. If you are visually impaired or find it hard to handle books you do not have to pay for talking books or language courses.  

Members can borrow sheet music for an orchestra or choir for up to 4 months. We have our own collection of our own vocal scores and can borrow scores not in our collection and orchestral sets from other counties.

To borrow music scores, complete our online form no later than 6 weeks before you need the music. You can send the form up to 6 months in advance.

If you just want to check whether a piece of music is available within Cheshire libraries without ordering, you can email interlending.requests@cheshiresharedservices.gov.uk. But to check with other libraries, we need a completed online form.

Choose your return date carefully and leave enough time to collect, clean and return copies to the library. We can only extend loans if the music is not needed by other groups.

We will let you know (usually within 2 weeks) whether the music you have asked for is available. You can choose which library you want to collect the music from. You will need to return the music to the same library.

There is a charge for borrowing music scores, payable on collection.

Order music scores online

Single and multiple copies of play scripts are available to borrow. Contact Chester Library at Storyhouse or ask at your local library for details. There is a small charge for borrowing plays.

Do you need to be a member to borrow plays and sheet music

With a Cheshire Leisure Card or Library Discount card, you can borrow items such as films and talking books for less and get discounts on reservations, printing and more. Cheshire Leisure Cards are free to people on eligible benefits or rebates.

Home and mobile library services

You can use our home library service if you are unable to get to a library and have no one who can visit a library for you. When you register, you will be able to choose books and a volunteer will deliver them for you. To register, contact your local library.

Reference, research, newspapers and magazines

We hold a wide variety of reference books and other items. These are available to everyone to look at in the library but cannot be borrowed. To see if we have a particular book, search our library catalogue online

Library members can order books from other libraries to read in their local library. 

Library members get free access to a wide range of online subscription services for research and learning. 

As well as local history books, most libraries have some other local reference material.   

Larger libraries have books, pamphlets, trade directories, photographs, maps and (on microfilm) local newspapers, census returns and parish registers.

Local history resources in Macclesfield Library 

Local history resources in Nantwich Library 

The county's main archive is held by Cheshire Archives and Local Studies (CALS). The archive is open to the public and has a catalogue covering the full range of local history sources. Images are held by Cheshire Image Bank.

Library members get free access to Ancestry.com and Find my Past on library computers.

Libraries hold a range of newspapers and magazines for people to read in the library. Library members can access online newspapers and magazines.  

Romany was the name used by the Rev. George Bramwell Evens (1884-1943) in his BBC Children's Hour radio broadcasts Out with Romany in the 1930s and 40s. We hold a collection of Romany's books and copies of the annual Romany magazine. 

Reference only at Wilmslow Library. Items cannot be borrowed. 

The Silk Industry Collection is a large collection of books and pamphlets on the silk and textile industry in and around Macclesfield, going back to1825.

Reference only at Macclesfield Library. Items cannot be borrowed. Ask a member of staff for access.

CF Tunnicliffe (1901-1979) was an author and illustrator born in Langley. His illustrations were mainly of flora and fauna and wildlife, particularly birds. The Tunnicliffe collection contains books and items he wrote or illustrated (including Brooke Bond Dividend Tea cards, greetings cards and postcards) as well as books with notes made by Tunnicliffe and books about him. 

Reference only at Macclesfield Library. Items cannot be borrowed. Ask a member of staff for access.

The Whitfield collection is a collection of books about Mrs Gaskell and her works put together by Professor A Stanton Whitfield (1900-1975). The collection contains many of Mrs Gaskell's novels, biography, journals, foreign language editions, dramatisations of her novels, literary criticisms, cuttings and miscellaneous background material - including some items in Japanese.  

Reference only at Knutsford Library. Items cannot be borrowed.   

Advice and information from library staff and others

Libraries have Cheshire East Council Customer Service Points, offering help and advice with council services including applying for Blue Badges, concessionary transport and benefits and accessing planning application details.  

To make sure someone is available to help, it is best to contact the library to make an appointment.

Noticeboards in libraries are available for community group information so you can see what's on locally and publicise your own events. Libraries also often have leaflets and details about local groups - ask a member of staff.  

We have lots of books and other materials to help with reading, writing and maths, and our staff are always willing to help you find what you need. Whether you want to improve your skills or have simply lost the habit of reading for pleasure and want to try again, just ask for advice. Staff also have details of local courses. 

Wilmslow library lists Basic Skills collection under At your library you will find - do all libraries have these resources or only some?

Library staff can give information about talking book services from other organisations and general services for visually impaired people.

For help finding work or training or using the Universal Credit online system, you can book a Springboard Work Hub session. Sessions are available in Crewe library and Macclesfield library.

Library activities, events and facilities

Libraries offer a variety of children's sessions as well as leisure activities for adults ranging from book clubs and story reading to Lego building and colour and chat sessions. 

Local clubs and groups often also meet in libraries.

For what's happening at each library, see the individual library details.

Libraries have public computers anyone can use.

Library members can also get unlimited free Wi-Fi. Bring your own device and log in with your library card number and PIN .   

All our libraries have a scanner for public use except Prestbury. To use the scanner, you will need to book a library computer session. 

All our libraries are accessible for wheelchair users except Prestbury, where there are two steps. Most have automatic doors.

All libraries with more than a single public floor have a lift., and those libraries with public toilets also have a fully accessible toilet. 

Induction loops for hearing aid users are fitted in all of our meeting rooms and at the enquiry desks in most of our larger libraries. Library staff are trained to understand the needs of people who are deaf or find it hard to hear and will do their best to communicate with you. 

Library car parks (where available) have marked bays for disabled users.

Check individual library information for specific details about facilities. 

Libraries have a hand-held magnifier or magnifying sheet available for use on site - just ask a member of staff. Some libraries have other assistive technology such as video magnifiers. These magnify text on a page and display it on a screen. Check with the library to see what is available. 

Resources for schools, playgroups, care homes and groups

Playgroups, nurseries and parent/toddler groups can join the library and borrow books. We just need one member of staff or volunteer to take responsibility for the membership card. The library card is free and your group can borrow up to 50 children's books, for up to 7 weeks. 

Some libraries have 'Big books' for loan, and you can also borrow DVDs and CDs for a week. Loans can be renewed as  long as no one else is waiting for the item.

Local authority nurseries can use the Education Library Service. 

The Education Library Service (ELS) is a subscription service for schools and local authority nurseries providing a mobile library plus a range of resources, training and support

Book clubs and reading groups can subscribe to our Reading Group Collection. The collection is a varied mix of books that will encourage members of reading groups to expand their reading choices and discover new authors and genres.

Reading Group Booklist (PDF, 555KB) 

Books are available in sets of 10-12 copies, and are delivered to your local library for you to collect. You can borrow the books for up to 6 weeks.
Subscription costs £80 a year.

To register for the Reading Group Collection, contact reading.groups@cheshiresharedservices.gov.uk or call the Reading Group Administrator on 01244 976021.

We can provide support for new reading groups just starting out, for groups looking for new members, and for groups with special requirements, such as large print or audio versions of books. If you are an individual looking to join a reading group, we may also be able to put you in touch with a local group.

Our Cheshire Memories memory boxes are themed collections of items for local groups and homes to use for reminiscence activities. You can borrow boxes on a library card for 3 weeks (small memory box charge, payable on collection). 

For more details and to reserve a box,  ask your local library.

Sales of withdrawn stock

Buy bargain books, DVDs and more at our regular library sales of withdrawn stock. Macclesfield library has a permanent sale area. 

Page last reviewed: 03 March 2022