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Although the branch is resting at the moment, there is always help available for members and non-members alike at the society's regular helpdesk at Manchester Central Library. Alternative arrangements may be available if the present pandemic restrictions continue.

MLFHS Helpdesk

Manchester Central Library, ground floor

MCL MLFHS helpdesk: Max Bamber


Manchester and Lancashire Family History Society became partner members with Manchester Archives+ in March 2014. This partnership has given the Society the opportunity to expand their Family History Helpdesk services which had previously operated not only at the Society's former premises at Clayton House but also via a weekly Help Desk at City Library, Manchester.

Free advice

The Helpdesk team currently provide guidance to members and non-members from 11.00am to 2.30pm five days a week at Manchester Central Library. Our Helpdesk which is located on the ground floor at Central Library has a dedicated Helpdesk area with a number of computers available for family history and local studies research only. You will find a knowledgeable team waiting to provide you with FREE family history advice and assistance, whether your ancestors came from Greater Manchester or from further afield.

Free access

Free access is also available for such online resources as the British Newspaper Archives, Ancestry and FindmyPast. Learn how to access these websites and other family history databases and utilise them to their optimum here. Let our volunteers show you how to use the library computers, Covergold printer/readers or just the wealth of other resources at your disposal.

Visit us

The Helpdesk team assist about 4,000 visitors a year, many of whom are from different parts of the globe and make a visit to Central Library an essential stop on their ancestral trip of discovery. The comments left for the team are always incredibly positive from "Extremely helpful", "Appreciated the help and advice", "Friendly", and "Fabulous, so helpful!".

Many of the team are driven to volunteer by their passion for family history and their desire to help others discover more about their Manchester and Lancashire roots and provide a better understanding about family history research.

"The Manchester and Lancashire Family History Society Help Desk closed on 16th March 2020 as a result of the first National Lockdown. At that time we established a Virtual Help Desk (VHD) in order to continue to assist members and non-members with their family history queries. We were also able to produce some useful videos which are posted on this website. As the situation eased later in the year we were able to operate a limited physical Help Desk at Manchester Central Library one day a week on a trial basis. This was only in operation for few short weeks before we were plunged into Lockdown #2 and this limited operation had to cease. We were never able to reopen the Help Desk again after that point. Now, as we head towards the June date set by the Government which suggests that we will be able to reopen we are busily working on a plan to enable this. At the moment however, we remain closed. Please continue to look at our website or Facebook page for further updates. Thank you for your patience. The MLFHS Help Desk team"

Our own space

Society members are particularly fortunate that we have a dedicated table area for their sole use in the Helpdesk area. We also offer members access to the unique Society resource collection which is located here. Members can gain access to any of the material located in this collection by speaking to a member of the Helpdesk team.

Microfiche and more

Aside from Society resources, Manchester Central Library holds an exceptionally large collection of material and therefore the Society's knowledgeable Helpdesk team is uniquely placed to help all visitors negotiate this vast array of material from digital maps, sound archives, local reference books to microfilm collections

Just ask

The Helpdesk is also a great place to stop by and visit if you have any queries about your membership or about the Society. The team will be only too pleased to help you.


If restrictions apply

The MLFHS has arranged a Virtual Helpdesk for the duration of restrictions and details will be added here shortly. Details will be available on social media, but you can also use the main Contact Us form to ask for contact details. The e-Forum continues to be available for members to use, and the Virtual Helpdesk will revert to a privilege of membership when the library is open to the public.



The MLFHS Family History Helpdesk is located on the ground floor of Manchester Central Library at St. Peter's Square.

Our location is on the far side from the main entrance as shown below.

The Helpdesk is open every weekday, Monday to Friday, except for Bank Holidays, between 10.30am and 3.30pm.

Public transport

Central Library is adjacent to the St. Peter's Square Metrolink station with direct services from Altrincham, East Didsbury, Eccles and Bury and simple connections from other lines. Many bus services from South Manchester stop at the Oxford Street end of Portland Street, which is a five-minute walk from the library. Other services may arrive at Shudehill Interchange or Piccadilly Bus Station. Shudehill is about 15 minutes and Piccadilly about 10 minutes walk from the library. There are Metrolink connections adjacent to both of these bus terminals.

Arriving by car

If you can avoid coming by car then do! There is no parking at Central Library including (during building works) disabled parking. There are a number of car parks in the vicinity, but parking charges are relatively high. Visitors arriving by car are advised to consider parking at a Metrolink station and completing their journey by Metrolink. More information about parking at Metrolink stations can be found on the Metrolink web site.

Wheelchair access

There is full access to and within the building for wheelchair users.

Manchester Central Library: Hilary Hartigan