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FAQs about the Library of Birmingham

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Where is the Library?

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 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).

When is the Library open?

The opening hours are Monday and Tuesday 11-7, Wednesdays to Saturdays 11-5 and on Sundays we are closed.  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.

How big is the Library?

The Library is 31,000 square metres, making it one of the largest public libraries in the world. The construction project included a modern new back-of-house facilities for The REP and in total the development comprises 35,000 square metres.

Who is the Library of Birmingham for?

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.

How many floors does it have?

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.

Do you have to be a member to use the Library of Birmingham?

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.

How can I join the Library?

You can join the Library online right here! Alternatively, pop into any of Birmingham’s public libraries and ask a member of staff.

Are all the books for loan?

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. 

What if I'm late returning my books?

The charge for late return of books is 20p per day up to a maximum of £5. For concessionary members it's 10p per day up to a maximum of £2.50. If you have charges to pay, please speak to a member of staff.

How much does it cost to borrow CDs and DVDs?

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.

Do I have to book to see the Shakespeare Memorial Room?

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.

What is the Wolfson Centre for Archival Research and when is it open?

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 Tuesdays 11am - 7pm, Wednesdays 11am - 4.30pm, Thursdays 11am - 4.30pm, Saturdays (1 in 4) 11am - 4pm. We are currently operating an appointment system in the Wolfson Centre. Please e-mail to reserve your study space and tell us what you widh to see.

How much did the Library cost and how is it being paid for?

The capital cost of the project was £188.8 million - a reduction from the original budget of £193 million, thanks to determined efforts to keep costs down. It has been funded mainly through a Government loan scheme which gave local authorities preferential rates.

Who designed the Library of Birmingham?

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.

Who built the Library of Birmingham?

The Council’s construction partner for the Library of Birmingham was Midlands-based Carillion; the project manager was Capita Symonds.