The Library of Birmingham is located at Centenary Square, the city’s most important public open space in the heart of Birmingham city centre’s Westside. The new Library is next to and physically connected with Birmingham Repertory Theatre (The REP). Other important cultural venues including The ICC, Symphony Hall, NIA, Town Hall and Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery are located very close by. The site has excellent public transport links and is on a major pedestrian route (it is estimated that up to 13 million people walk past the site annually).
The opening hours are Monday to Friday 8-8, Saturday 9-5, Sunday 11-4. Please note some specialised parts of the library are not open all the time or have to be booked in advance. Please check before your visit.
The new Library is 31,000 square metres, making it one of the largest public libraries in the world. The construction project includes modern new back-of-house facilities for The REP and in total the new development comprises 35,000 square metres.
The Library is for everyone, regardless of age, background or circumstances. Architect Francine Houben of Mecanoo describes the Library of Birmingham as the ‘people’s palace’ – a highly accessible and family-friendly place that is welcoming to all. It is expected to attract around 3.5 million visitors annually and millions more online – including citizens of Birmingham and the West Midlands Region as well as national and international visitors.
The Library of Birmingham is spread over 10 levels of varying size and usage. The building comprises a spacious entrance and foyer with mezzanine, lower ground level with indoor terraces, four further public levels and two outdoor garden terraces, a 'golden box' of secure archive storage occupying two levels, provision for staff offices and service plant on a further two levels and at the very top of the building a rotunda feature housing the Shakespeare Memorial Room.
Everyone is welcome to come and experience the Library of Birmingham and there will be plenty on offer for visitors who don’t wish to join. But to get full use of all that the Library offers – including free wifi, borrowing books and music – you need to become a member.
You can join the Library online right here! Alternatively, pop into any of Birmingham’s public libraries and ask a member of staff.
All the books in the Book Browse area are for loan. On levels 1, 2, 3 and 4 and the Music Library, only the books with yellow spine labels may be borrowed. The books with white spine labels are just for use in the library.
The charge for late return of books is 15p per day up to a maximum of £3. For concessionary members it's 3p per day up to a maximum of £1.50. If you have charges to pay, please speak to a member of staff.
Music recordings are £1 (60p for concessions and under 18s) for 14 days. Top 50 Videos and DVDs are £2.50 for 2 nights. All other videos and DVDs are £1.50 for 7 nights.
The Shakespeare Memorial Room is freely available most of the time. However, it is a bookable space, so if you are travelling specially, it's advisable to check first.
The Archives, Heritage and Photography service is on level 4 and is open all the time the library is open. Here you can see birth, marriage and death registers, parish records, Birmingham newspapers, maps, trade directories and many other resources for Birmingham history. If you wish to view original archive material, you need to visit the Wolfson Centre for Archival Research. The opening hours are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 10am - 5pm, Thursday 10am - 8pm and Saturday 10am - 4pm. Please check the opening hours at holiday times as they may change. Please e-mail in advance of your visit and tell us what you would like to see, so we can have items ready for you: firstname.lastname@example.org
The new Library of Birmingham is owned by and serves the people of Birmingham - a "People's Palace" in the words of its architect and Library of Birmingham Trustee Francine Houben. The Library of Birmingham Trust was established in May 2011 to support capital fundraising and enhance Birmingham City Council's annual investment in the city's libraries. It is able to raise funds from public, private and charitable sources which are not necessarily available to the local authority. The Trust is supporting programme delivery, helping to house fragile collections and supporting the development of new resources for citizens and business users. The Library of Birmingham service receives high level direction from a Strategic Board which is comprised of members of the Trust together with member and officer representatives of Birmingham City Council. The Board draws upon the advice of key stakeholders including staff, service users and partners to ensure all communities and interests are represented. Both the Trust and the Strategic Board are chaired by leading business figure Keith Bradshaw. Trustees also include: Sir Dominic Cadbury (University of Birmingham); Sir David Cannadine (National Portrait Gallery); Paul Faulkner (Aston Villa FC); Stewart Towe OBE (Hadley Group); Francine Houben (architect); Dr Christine Braddock DBE (Birmingham Metropolitan College); and Tim Pile (Cogent Elliott). Trust Patrons include Jasper Carrott OBE; Sir Nicholas Goodison; David Owen OBE; The Rt Rev David Urquhart; Paul Sabapathy CBE; and Lady Susie Sainsbury.
The capital cost of the project is £188.8 million - a reduction from the original budget of £193 million, thanks to determined efforts to keep costs down. It is being funded mainly through a Government loan scheme which gives local authorities preferential rates.
The new Library was designed by internationally–acclaimed Dutch architects Mecanoo. They have designed a building to capture the imagination and provide an exciting showcase for the library’s impressive collections and rich cultural programmes brought alive with the help of new digital technologies.
The Council’s construction partner for the Library of Birmingham was Midlands-based Carillion; the project manager was Capita Symonds.