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Rewriting the Book

Rewriting the Book

Faces of the Library of Birmingham take tour of construction site

A group of Library of Birmingham Faces have had the opportunity to take a tour of the building under construction. Picture and more information about the tour.

Search for twenty six ambassadors of the new library is now complete

Birmingham City Council has announced the final nine Faces of the Library of Birmingham. The latest faces to be confirmed include a teenage radio presenter, a Bhangra expert, the founder of a local film festival and The Hustle actor Adrian Lester, who began his career on the stage at The REP. All twenty six Faces of the Library of Birmingham were selected for their genuine passions for Birmingham and their excitement about the Library of Birmingham.

Ian Ward, deputy leader of Birmingham City Council said: In the Faces of the Library of Birmingham we have a bunch of fantastic ambassadors for the library and for the city. They reflect the incredible range of roles that libraries can play in the lives of people from different walks and in different stages of life.

The ‘Rewriting the Book Campaign’ was launched in May 2010 with the aim of finding 26 people, one for every letter of the alphabet, to represent the many values of the Library of Birmingham and help bring the new building to life for others. As real people with real passions, the Faces embody the variety and wealth of the services, facilities and possibilities that the Library of Birmingham will provide to the city’s residents and the wider world when it opens in 2013. From now until the Library’s opening, and beyond, the Faces will act as ambassadors within their own communities and networks to help spread the word about the library to Birmingham and the wider world.

The new Faces are:

David Ault

David Ault from Walsall

David is an astrophysicist, passionate storyteller and actor. He runs The Big Bang West and East Midlands, and travels to theatres and primary schools to give storytelling workshops. He’s thrilled that the new library will help increase the profile of Birmingham’s science and engineering heritage and allow access to the cities internationally significant archives.

See video of David Ault

Shaun Baxter

Shaun Baxter from Handsworth

Shaun is a radio presenter for three different shows around the city. He has a genuine passion for libraries as a social space where people, especially teenagers, can meet to work together and thinks that the new building will help bring a real buzz to the city.

See video of Shaun Baxter

John Blewitt

Dr John Blewitt from Malvern

John is a Senior Lecturer at Aston University and has been closely involved with the Library of Birmingham since 2009. He is an expert on public libraries and their relation to social and environmental sustainability. John thinks the new library will be a magnificent space open to everyone and dedicated to learning, culture, the arts and commerce and will redefine what a library is and can be.

See video of John Blewitt

Gursh Chana

Gursh Chana from Great Barr

Gursh Chana is passionate about Birmingham’s music and arts heritage. Gursh worked with Birmingham library to research and present his exhibition “From Soho Road to the Punjab”, which showcased previously unseen photographs and club flyers, rare albums, authentic instruments, awards and costumes. After opening at Birmingham Central Library in 2005, the exhibition went on tour around the country and also New York in 2011. A record of the exhibition is now housed in the library’s archives along with the world’s first book on Bhangra culture which Gursh contributed to. Gursh is excited about the new exhibitions spaces in the new library and the link with the REP that will bring all sorts of performing arts together with the collections of the library.

See video of Gursh Chana

Ian Francis

Ian Francis from Balsall Heath

Ian runs Birmingham’s Flatpack Festival which is held in venues across the city every March. Ian also has a fascination with the overlaps between film and photography - particularly before and during the birth of cinema, through devices like the magic lantern, the zoetrope, the mutoscope and flip-book (which was patented in Birmingham). He has used the library for local studies work as he has put together walking tours about Birmingham's hidden history.

See video of Ian Francis

Seyi Kolade

Seyi Kolade from Harborne

Seyi has been a passionate advocate of libraries for many years. The resources and facilities at her local branch have helped her to overcome past difficulties and build her confidence and skill as a writer. She is excited about the performance areas in the Library of Birmingham as she feels through the connections to music and technology they will make the library more attractive to young people.

See video of Seyi Kolade

Jo Ind

Jo Ind from Kings Heath

Jo started researching her ancestors when the Birmingham Post, for whom she worked, launched a family history column. Her research at Central Library uncovered a wealth of fascinating facts about her family, including a relation to the famous prison reformer Elizabeth Fry. Jo thinks the Library of Birmingham is nothing less than what the people of Birmingham deserve: "Our library's put her bling on and she's moved on down to Broad Street”, she says.

See video of Jo Ind

Adrian Lester

Adrian Lester from Birmingham

Adrian was born and raised in Birmingham and first acted with Birmingham Youth Theatre, which included appearances at the Rep. Well known on our television screens from his appearances in Hustle and Merlin, his extensive theatre experience has included major roles in Sweeny Todd,Company, As You Like It, Six Degrees of Separation, Kiss of the Spider Woman, A Winter's Tale, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. He’ll be playing Othello at the National Theatre in 2013.

See video of Adrian Lester

Matthew Tye

Matthew Tye from Handsworth

Matthew is passionate about history and has used the library for research all his life, particularly into the First and Second World War Commonwealth archives and the Veterans of Handsworth and Stechford project. He is excited that new technology will open up the city’s treasures such as the collections of local community heritage histories to a wider audience, allowing people from all around the world to explore the collections and conduct their own research.

See video of Matthew Tye

The ‘Faces’ of the Library of Birmingham will feature on promotional material for the new library, including the website. Their individual stories will be used to highlight the many diverse services to be provided by the Library of Birmingham, and, as honorary ‘ambassadors’ they will be involved in promotional activity and spreading the word about the library to their local communities.

More Faces of the Library of Birmingham . . .

Six more ‘Faces’ of the Library of Birmingham have been selected from dozens of applicants who applied when the ‘Rewriting the Book’ campaign was launched in May 2010 with the aim of finding 26 people over the next three years whose inspirational stories reflect the diverse ways in which libraries can change lives. They include a salsa-dancing linguist, a new media entrepreneur and a veteran of community work, and will join 11 previously announced Faces as honorary representatives of the Library of Birmingham.

Lob faces - Thomas

Thomas O’Flaherty from Hockley

Dance instructor and language student Thomas O’Flaherty has lived in Birmingham for most of his life. As well as teaching Salsa, Latin Jazz and Zumba classes all over the city, Thomas is a skilled linguist who speaks Spanish and French and is found most days studying Mandarin and Russian at Central Library. He hopes that the new performance spaces at the Library of Birmingham, including the amphitheatre in Centenary Square, will open up the library to Brummies with a wide range of interests.

Watch Thomas on YouTube

Lob faces - Steven and Trevor

Steven Woodhouse and Trevor Boddington from Birmingham

Steven Woodhouse and his carer Trevor Boddington met in their late twenties and soon realised they shared a love of creating things. They use Central Library to research their ideas for their art projects, transforming household junk, such as bottle caps and tin cans, into replicas of their favourite childhood toys. The Library of Birmingham will mean improved access for them and many others, making the collections, resources and services of the library accessible to all.

Watch Steven and Trevor on YouTube


Eunice McGhie-Belgrave from Stetchford

Having arrived in Birmingham from Jamaica in 1957, Eunice McGhie-Belgrave has worked tirelessly in her local community ever since. She has run a diverse range of community projects including ‘Shades of Black’ which was set up after the 1989 Handsworth riots to help build pride amongst young people in their communities. Several of these projects are now housed within the archives at Central Library, and she hopes that the new exhibition spaces will inspire more Brummies to celebrate their city.

Watch Eunice on YouTube

Lob faces - Gary

Gary Baker from Sutton Coldfield

Dublin-born entrepreneur Gary Baker runs an internet marketing company from his home in Sutton Coldfield. Gary retrained after a period of unemployment, using Central Library’s Business Resource Centre to find the services and information he needed. Gary believes that the improved business facilities that will be available at the Library of Birmingham will be a huge help to start-up companies like his own.

Watch Gary on YouTube

Lob faces - Ian

Ian Myatt from Sutton Coldfield

As Head of Knowledge & Learning for BBC Online, Ian Myatt manages a range of websites, including BBC Food and BBC Bitesize. His love of all things digital was fostered in Birmingham libraries, where he first had access to computers and the internet. He’s excited that the Library of Birmingham will lead the way in using technology to allow people from all around the world to access its collections, as well as providing a vibrant, open place for the people of Birmingham to learn, explore and socialise.

Though he works all around the country, he spends a lot of time in Birmingham. He manages The New Streetly Orchestra, plays in a band that rehearses in Selly Oak, is a Trustee of Performance Birmingham Ltd and the chair of the Sutton Coldfield Arts Forum.

Watch Ian on YouTube


Saadiah Harun Kilburn from Birmingham

Saadiah Harun Kilburn, 50, has lived in Birmingham for five years. She grew up in Malaysia and has also lived in Japan, where she completed her first degree in 1996. She now teaches Japanese at both a college and a language centre in Birmingham. It was while researching her dissertation at Central Library that Saadiah met her husband and she is passionate about the way libraries can promote understanding between cultures through shared languages.

Watch Saadiah on YouTube

The ‘Rewriting the Book Campaign’ has found 26 people, one for every letter of the alphabet, to represent the many values of the Library of Birmingham and help bring the new building to life for others. As real people with real passions, the Faces embody the variety and wealth of the services, facilities and possibilities that the Library of Birmingham will provide to the city’s residents and the wider world when it opens in 2013.

The ‘Faces’ of the Library of Birmingham will feature on promotional material for the new library, including the website. Their individual stories will be used to highlight the many diverse services to be provided by the Library of Birmingham, and, as honorary ‘ambassadors’ they will be involved in promotional activity and spreading the word about the library to their local communities.

Faces of the Library of Birmingham already chosen

Carol Pemberton

Carol Pemberton

After developing a love of reading as a child, Carol diversified her usage of the library to indulge in her passion for music, and often used the music library to listen to rare LPs of key singers she was influenced by.

23 years ago, Carol founded Black Voices, a vocal harmony group which draws on the oral tradition of Africa, exploring themes of black history.

This has frequently led Carol into Birmingham Libraries’ Archive and Heritage department, with the comprehensive collections related to black history, including local information to help chart her parents’ generation, helping Carol to shape and inspire Black Voices’ programmes.

See Carol on YouTube

Find out more about Carol

Iain McColl

Iain McColl

Originally from Scotland, Iain McColl, was homeless and living in a hostel when he saw a poster advertising a Business Action on Homelessness scheme linked to the Library of Birmingham through construction partners Carillion.

After applying for a two week unpaid induction course, he was offered a permanent position on the Library of Birmingham construction site and has now secured a job as Assistant Engineer for sub-contractor Morrisroe, is studying for NVQs, and significantly, now has a home of his own. A keen reader of philosophy and poetry, Iain is looking to publish his own collection of poems, and is using the library’s Business Insight department to get help in doing so. Who knows, maybe Iain’s books could one day adorn the shelves of the Library he helped to build!

See Iain on YouTube

Find out more about Iain

Andrew Keen

Andrew Keen

Andrew has used the libraries throughout life to read for pleasure, as well as to study various subjects, obtaining two degrees and becoming a master of Karate along the way.

Now 60, Andrew has been with wife Linda since the age of 16 following their first date at the original Birmingham Repertory theatre in Station Street.

However, having spent all of his money on taxis, meals and tickets, Andrew was unable to afford a programme from the production of Hans, the Witch and the Gobbin. Years later, Andrew and Linda were able to obtain an archive copy of the treasured brochure courtesy of Birmingham libraries. With the Library of Birmingham and the REP set to be physically connected in 2013, Andrew is excited to see how his joint passion for libraries and theatre will work together.

See Andrew on YouTube

Find out more about Andrew

Ellise Miles

Ellise Miles

A passionate reader, Ellise is a member of five libraries, and is keen to visit the local library wherever she goes. Ellise visits a library at least twice a week and, at the age of 11, is starting to explore beyond the realms of children’s literature with classic literature such as Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre.

Ellise, who travels from Cheltenham to visit Birmingham Central Library, will be a teenager when the Library opens its doors in 2013, and therefore is particularly excited about the new areas in the library for Young People which will provide an ideal location for teenagers to study, meet and socialise.

See Ellise on YouTube

Find out more about Ellise

Andre and Imarni Hesson

Andre and Imarni Hesson

A passionate advocate of everything artistic, Andre Hesson is involved in various creative forms from performance poetry and spoken word expression through his own ‘Artistic Souls’ open mic night, to painting, photography and even performing in productions by the Birmingham Opera Company.

A keen advocate of the ability of libraries to enhance lives, Andre regularly brings one-year-old daughter Imarni to the library in order to encourage learning and literacy from an early age.

See Andre on YouTube

Find out more about Andre

Jayn Winslade

Jayn Winslade

A dancer by profession, Jayn’s keen interest in history manifested itself when she visited the village of Abbots Bromley and discovered the Abbots Bromley horn dance, a yearly ritual in which residents take to the streets to perform dances whilst brandishing antlers kept in the village church.

After researching its origins in Birmingham Libraries’ Archives & Heritage department, Jayn published her first book ‘Emily & Jen Dance for Deeron’. Jayn now uses the book as a basis for children’s workshops which combine her passions for literature, dance and history.

See Jayn on YouTube

Find out more about Jayn

The ‘Faces’ of the Library of Birmingham feature on all promotional material for the project, and their own individual stories are used to highlight the many diverse services to be provided by the Library of Birmingham, and, as honorary ‘ambassadors’ they will be involved in promotional activity and events including community engagement and launches.

The first Faces of the Library of Birmingham...

From six-year-old Samuel to 82-year-old Frank, our soon-to-be-famous faces are passionate about their libraries and their own personal areas of interest. Get to know them a little better here!

Pick a profile . . . or watch a video

'Rewriting the Book' video on YouTube

Watch Birmingham City Council Leader, Mike Whitby, introducing the first ‘faces’ of the Library of Birmingham at
the launch of the search for the 26 representative for the Library of Birmingham.

Matt Windle

Matt Windle

Excluded from school at the age of 14, Matt used poetry to make a positive change in his life.

Find out more about Matt

See Matt Windle on YouTube


Mary and Dalvinder

Support from the library’s Business Insight team was the cherry on top for the ‘Kiss Me Cupcakes’ queens.

Find out more about Mary and Dalvinder

See Mary and Dalvinder on YouTube

Frank Sidney Smith

Frank Sidney Smith

From social gatherings to all important research, the library is a huge part of the 82-year-old artist’s life.

Find out more about Frank Sidney Smith

See Frank Sidney Smith on YouTube

Wal Warmington

Wal Warmington

A lapsed reader, Wal discovered a lot more about himself after joining Spring Hill Library’s book club

Find out more about Wal Warmington

See Wal Warmington on YouTube

Samuel and Nathaniel Chan

Samuel and Nathaniel Chan

Samuel and Nathaniel weren’t always into reading, but a trip to the library changed that!

Find out more about Samuel and Nathaniel Chan

See Samuel and Nathaniel on YouTube


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Rewriting the Book