The Library of Birmingham will receive a £500,000 boost from a major charitable foundation, it is announced today (20 February 2013). The funds will assist in the construction of the £188.8m project, which is due to open 3 September 2013. The award is made by the Wolfson Foundation, one of the UK’s largest grant-making charities.
The awards will help to provide world class library facilities in the heart of one of the UK’s major cities. The funding from a charitable funder also makes a strong statement about the continuing value and importance of public libraries to British society at a time of financial pressure on these services.
The award was made through the Library of Birmingham Development Trust, a charitable body established to raise funds to complement the city council's investment in the project, with trustees drawn from community leaders who have a commitment to cultural services.
The Wolfson Foundation has a long history of support for libraries and archives as part of a wider programme of support for the arts. During the early 2000s, in a joint programme with Government, over £6 million was invested in IT equipment for public libraries.
Paul Ramsbottom, Chief Executive, the Wolfson Foundation, said:
“Public libraries continue to play a crucial role in British society. In backing this excellent project, we hope that other funders might join us in supporting high quality initiatives at public libraries at a time of acute funding pressure for these great institutions. The Library of Birmingham will help to show the future shape of public libraries at a time of debate about their future role”.
Keith Bradshaw, Chairman of The Library of Birmingham Trust, commented,
“The Library of Birmingham will redefine the concept of a library for the 21st century and is one of the most exciting projects our city will ever witness. With the support of the Trust, it has the potential to transform the lives of thousands of people and the Trustees are enormously grateful to the Wolfson Foundation for its generous and important support."