The big day is Tuesday 3 September 2013.
Yes. Details of the opening day itself are still being planned. The celebrations will continue throughout our opening season, which will run until the end of 2013, with exciting events and activities for all.
Getting ready for the Library of Birmingham is a huge task which means that we have already had to reduce some services. In Phase 3 of changes to services in Central Library, all floors from the third floor upwards are now closed. All of the resources currently available on the ground, first and second floors will continue to be available until services in Central Library close for good at the end of June 2013.
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 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. A full list of membership benefits are available here.
You can join the Library online right here! Alternatively, pop into any of Birmingham’s public libraries and ask a member of staff.
The Library of Birmingham is Rewriting the Book on public libraries. This means we are redefining the purpose of libraries in the 21st century by creating a world-class library that is highly responsive to need in a rapidly changing world. It means transforming the way libraries will work in the future, transforming Birmingham and transforming people’s lives.
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 is Midlands-based Carillion; the project manager is Capita Symonds.
Construction got underway in January 2010 and is on schedule for completion in April 2013, when Carillion will hand the building over to Birmingham City Council. The process of moving in and getting ready to open will take a further four months.
It is only after the building is handed over to the City Council and is no longer a construction site that work can begin on installing and testing all the IT, catering and technical systems and on the staff training programme. Specialist move contractor Nexus will begin the mammoth task of transferring over 1.5 million books and 24 kilometres of shelves of precious archive and heritage collections. It is estimated that 1,100 crates of books – a total of 66,000 crates - will be brought into the new Library every day for three months. Placed end to end, the Library’s books would stretch from Birmingham to Edinburgh.