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This article is taken from PN Review 247, Volume 45 Number 5, May - June 2019.

In Memory of Michael Powell
From Chetham’s Library
In Memory of Michael Powell (1955–2019): Manchester Man and Master of Books
Stella Halkyard
THE TWENTY-SECOND day of March 2019 was a sad day in Manchester and throughout the library world beyond. Four hundred people filed into the Cathedral to give thanks for the rich but too-short life of Michael Powell, Librarian of Chetham’s Library. The Cathedral seemed small and afterwards the great institution of Chetham's itself even smaller as we who had known him crammed together to share our memories of this great Manchester Man.

Like you, I know Michael through the sparkling essays he contributed to the inside back-cover of PN Review detailing the bibliogra­p­h­ical gems of Chetham's collections. But I’ve also been blessed to have Michael as a vital presence and inspiration across the arc of my life working in libraries. In fact, without him, and his example of what a rare books librarian was and could be, I might never have had the audacity to venture into the field.

We met in 1987 when he took me on at Chetham’s as part of a Manpower Services Commission Scheme, set up to alleviate soaring levels of unemployment. Part of a lively little family of lefty proto-librarians we amused him greatly as he initiated us in the arcana of the then international library standard AACR2 so we could bring Chetham’s catalogue into the twentieth century. Michael shared his polymathic knowledge of manuscripts, books and libraries with us without a trace of pedantry or impatience for our considerable ignorance. When a ‘proper’ job was advertised in Manchester Public Libraries (i.e. one that paid) he acted as my referee and ...


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