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Library of Birmingham opening date announced -

Tuesday 3rd September 2013

Twitter competition to nominate first book to be placed on the shelves of the Library

Library of Birmingham with completed facade

The new £188.8 million Library of Birmingham will open to the public on Tuesday 3rd September 2013. The announcement has also launched a competition to nominate the first book to be placed on its shelves.

Carillion, principal contractor for the project, will hand over the building to Birmingham City Council in April 2013 after which work begins 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.

Central Library houses the city's internationally important 6,000 or more archive collections, two million photographic stills, more than 150,000 items of music, and rare books. Over 8,000 of the Library's rare books were printed before 1700 and include a Shakespeare First Folio, Audubon's 'Birds of America', one of the world's largest books, and three perfect copies of Cordiale or the Four Last Thinges printed in 1479 by William Caxton.

Work is already well advanced to prepare the archives for their transfer to the Library of Birmingham whose new facilities will include state-of-the-art exhibition gallery space and new online facilities, helping to increase public access to the collections for the first time.

To mark the official opening, a Festival of celebration and series of special exhibitions are currently being planned. The Festival will focus on the theme of Discovery giving Birmingham residents, visitors to the city, and library users, whether in person or online, exciting opportunities to experience all the new Library has to offer and discover the newly-refurbished REP theatre. It will provide a dynamic mix of events, activities and performance while showcasing the Library's unique resources, exhibitions and access to expert help for learning, information and culture. The Discovery Festival will also focus on the new services and spaces of the Library of Birmingham and The Birmingham Repertory Theatre (The REP).

The REP will be moving back into Centenary Square during the summer after a two and a half year refurbishment and extension of its building. It will also reopen to the public in September 2013, with its first season of productions under the new artistic directorship of Roxana Silbert.

First book on the Library of Birmingham's shelves

Cllr Mike Whitby

©Simon Hadley

Library users are being asked to nominate the first book to be placed onto the Library of Birmingham's shelves, a hugely symbolic celebration of the continued importance of the printed word in this library for the future.

Nominators should tweet to @libraryofbham (using the hashtag #LoB1stbook) with their choice and reason why it should be the first book to be added to the collection. Nominations will be posted on the Library of Birmingham's blog and the winner will be invited to come along on the day and add their personal selection to the Library. The closing date for entries is 30 April 2012.

Councillor Mike Whitby, Leader of Birmingham City Council and who has nominated William Golding's Lord of the Flies, comments: "We are delighted to announce the public opening date for the highly anticipated world-class new library. Its opening will be a tremendous achievement for the city. It will be a key hub for the region and, with its many partners, will place Birmingham firmly on the world stage as a major cultural destination.

"We are enormously proud of everyone who is helping to deliver the project on time and under budget. This striking landmark building will be home to state-of-the-art facilities and will transform the concept we have of a library for the 21st century. It will be enjoyed by Birmingham's many communities and visitors to the city for years to come."

Of his nomination of Lord of the Flies, Councillor Whitby goes on to say,

"I am sure our competition will reveal the diverse range of literary tastes across the City - and demonstrate Birmingham's real passion for the written word.

"My vote has to be for William Golding's Lord of the Flies. I first read it as a young man, and what certainly impressed me as an aspiring politician / public servant was Golding's portrayal of how thin the veneer of civilization is - and how watchful we need to be to preserve our democracy.

"I can't recommend Golding enough - and Lord of the Flies would certainly make an excellent choice to be the first book placed on the shelf!"

An official opening ceremony is being planned for Autumn 2013 as part of the opening Discovery Festival. Further announcements will be made next year.

To explore the new Library before it opens 2013 go to birmingham.gov.uk/libraryofbirmingham/virtual to view it in Second Life.