Manchester Central Library

Partner project

International Mother Language Day 2018-2020

Central Library is the biggest public serving library in England. It is the headquarters of the city’s library and information service in Manchester. There is a media centre, cafe and wi-fi. We curate the Libraries Blog, providing information on our services and events. Find us on Facebook: @manchesterlibraries, Twitter: @MancLibraries and Instagram: @manclib_archives.

At our first celebration in 2018 we hosted dual language stories in our themed story tent. Library staff shared their favourite folk tales in their mother language, which included Russian and French and members of the Kerry Family Polish WWII History Group joined us to share their favourite stories in Polish. Musician John Haycock brought along his home made kora, a 21 string African harp, supplying beautiful music, plus some members of the audience were given the opportunity to try playing it themselves! Children enjoyed dressing up in traditional Russian dress and with the help of library staff they learnt how to decorate traditional mini Russian rocking horses. We also held an African inspired hair decoration workshop to learn the technique of hair braiding.



Building on from our event in 2018, we invited local community groups and specialist schools to join us for our 2019 celebration. The Ukrainian Saturday School offered Ukrainian tasters, a poetry recital and a performance of children’s dance in national costumes. At their stall guest can practice traditional Easter egg painting. Storytellers Olga and Sylvia told stories in Russian and German. The Mini Bus Choir from the New Testament Church of God represented different Islands from the Caribbean and performed a collection of songs. Musician Leman Mirazi run an African drumming workshop and performed for the audience. The younger members of the Libyan Amazigh Community gave a performance about the history of their language. Poet Mr. Basir Sultan Kazmi MBE assisted by MMU student poetry ambassadors Afzal and Sally, encouraged visitors to create poems and read from a selection of food poems. Mr Basir MBE also kindly recited some of his poetry on the main stage, alongside an English translation from Afzal.

Manchester Lithuanian Society ‘Žemyna’, present with their craft workshops and performances, asked us for a designated shelf for Lithuanian books and offered to donate 50 books through the Lithuanian Embassy. Recognising how important it is that our stock reflects our communities here in the city and with strengthened links between the Lithuanian community in Manchester and Manchester Libraries, the new Lithuanian Community Language Section opened in City Library on Saturday 25th January 2020.



In 2020 the Lithuanian and Amazigh communities joined us again. We also invited more local community groups like the Damascene Arabic School and the Armenian Sunday School which offered Armenian cakes baked by school parents and gave print outs of Armenian letters and symbols for participants to colour in. The Armenian children wore t-shirts with Armenian letters printed on them and performed a song. The Abraham Moss ESOL students worked with their tutors for weeks leading up to the event to plan their performances, which included singing and speaking about themselves in English and their mother language. This was the first time many of the students had spoken in front of an audience. Afterwards, many of the students felt proud of themselves for overcoming their fear of public speaking.