Over one million books will be moved out of the library
One of Manchester's iconic buildings is to close and more than a million books put into storage to allow for essential refurbishment work.
As part of plans to transform the Manchester Town Hall Complex, Central Library will be closed in stages from 25 February.
A temporary library will be set up at Elliot House, Deansgate, in June.
When Central Library reopens in 2013 it will boast a number of improved services, including an archive centre.
Some of the books will be stored in salt caverns in Cheshire. The library has about 44,000 volumes published before 1850 and more than 30 works dating back to the 15th Century.
The new archive centre will be feature materials from the North West Film Archive, the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre, Manchester and Lancashire Family History Society and the city's register office.
Using the latest technologies there will eventually be 24 hour access to some library services.
More than a million items will be added to the electronic catalogue while the library is closed, making access to the city's collections better than it has ever been.
Councillor Mike Amesbury, from Manchester City Council, said: "We recognise that Manchester's Central Library is one of the finest buildings in the city, and one of the finest libraries in the country.
"This refurbishment and restoration is absolutely necessary to ensure that the library can continue to be a jewel in Manchester's crown."
The council is also looking to open a refurbished library and learning centre in Longsight and two new libraries in Beswick and Brooklands later in the year.
Mr Amesbury added that Central Library was one of Manchester's "most cherished assets".
As part of the transformation, the Theatre Royal on Peter Street has been identified as the preferred new home for the Library Theatre Company.
The Library Theatre will operate as normal until its last performance in the Central Library on 4 July.
Meanwhile the Library Theatre Company's core team will move into a temporary base at Zion Arts on Stretford Road in July.
The theatre company will then perform at the Lowry in Salford and other venues around Manchester that are yet to be announced.