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Library of Birmingham Archive

Some older news items from the Library of Birmingham

Cllr Mike Whitby

©Simon Hadley

Opening date of Library of Birmingham announced

The new £188.8 million Library of Birmingham will open to the public on Tuesday 3rd September 2013, it was announced today, along with a competition to nominate the first book to be placed on its shelves. Find out more about the opening plans and competition.

Neighbourhood REP

Birmingham REP brings Theatre to life with Neighbourhood Libraries

Birmingham Repertory Theatre is joining forces with Birmingham Library and Archive Services to bring a range of theatre projects to six local libraries across the city. From Tolkien-inspired ‘audio walks’ in Hall Green to historical tales in the ruins of Weoley Castle, the project aims to bring some of Birmingham’s local stories to life. The Neighbourhood REP projects take place at a time when Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s home in Centenary Square is closed for re-development. The theatre will work in partnership with six of Birmingham’s community libraries: Spring Hill, Ward End, Weoley Castle, Harborne, Hall Green and Quinton. Each project will be inspired by the local people, history and community of the libraries and will give library users the chance to get involved, through playwriting, storytelling, performing or simply enjoying a performance.

Spring Hill Stories Local residents create new Stories for Spring Hill Library.

Prime Ministers visit the site

Prime Minister, David Cameron and Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte on a recent visit to the Library of Birmingham site. They were shown a presentation by the Dutch architect, Francine Houben from Dutch company, Mecanoo.

Topping out

Topping Out the Library of Birmingham

In September 2011, Councillor Mike Whitby, Leader of Birmingham City Council, laid the last piece of concrete on the highest point of the new Library of Birmingham at the official Topping Out ceremony. This is a significant marker in the construction of the new £188.8 million building, due to open in 2013.

Mike Whitby was helped by Buta Singh Mahal, 34, from Smethwick, who has worked on the site since building work began in February 2010, when he first mixed the concrete for the foundations to be laid. He also mixed the concrete used for the Topping Out.

The celebration also marked the first performances in the Library’s outdoor amphitheatre in Centenary Square, with an appearance by Black Voices, led by Carol Pemberton, a Face of the new Library of Birmingham, and by members of the company from the REP, who performed extracts from Shakespeare.


Public Consultation about the Terraces and Amphitheatre

The Library of Birmingham’s garden terraces and amphitheatre have been designed to be family-friendly, interactive outdoor spaces. They will be vibrant, environmentally friendly spaces for performance, socialising and informal learning - relaxing sanctuaries within the city centre. We wanted to tell the public about these features of the new library and ask how library customers and potential customers will want to use these areas. Read the results of this consultation:

Terraces and Amphitheatre

 PDF (Size: 1.34 Mb Type: pdf )

Ellise Miles and Jacqueline Wilson

Jacqueline Wilson visited Birmingham Young Readers festival and met a young 'Face of the Library of Birmingham'

Ellise Miles, one of our 'Faces of the Library of Birmingham' had a one-to-one conversation with Jacqueline ahead of the Festival Finale and asked her about her current work and future plans. Ellise said: "It was so exciting to meet Jacqueline Wilson today. Her book, My Sister Jodie, is my all time favourite, so it was brilliant to meet her and ask her some questions. Today was the best thing I’ve done so far as a Face of the Library of Birmingham. I can’t wait for the new library to open in 2013. It is going to have something for everyone and especially places for young people to hang out and meet their friends."

Peoples Archive

The Library of Birmingham at the BBC Public Space

During the Easter and early May Bank Holiday period, members of the public young and old visited the BBC Birmingham Public Space in The Mailbox. They were invited to contribute their local knowledge and personal recollections of Birmingham in days gone by at www.thepeoplesarchive.org, which makes available online for the first time one of the Library’s most popular photographic collections, the Warwickshire Photographic Survey. This records in fascinating detail buildings, street scenes and events in the city between the 1880s and the late 20th century. This pilot of a new interactive historical resource, if successful, could be an exciting new feature of the Library of Birmingham online. More details about the People's Archive at the BBC.

New design images of the interior of the library

As the first anniversary of the start of building work at the Library of Birmingham approaches, new design images, produced by architects Mecanoo, offer a first look inside the building.
Please click on the picture for larger images.

David Cameron with Mike Whitby and Brian Gambles

David Cameron Puts Trust in Library

Prime Minister, David Cameron joined Leader of Birmingham City Council, Mike Whitby and Brian Gambles, Assistant Director, Culture at the Library of Birmingham site on 4 October 2010 to review progress on the landmark project and reveal plans to create a Library of Birmingham Development Trust. Find out more about the Prime Minister's visit to the Library of Birmingham site.

Brian Gambles and Kevin McCloud

Kevin McCloud visits site

In Birmingham to promote the opening of Grand Designs Live design guru, Kevin McCloud took time to visit our very own grand design, the Library of Birmingham site. Read an interview with Kevin McCloud by Ian Halstead.
Copyright Jeremy Pardoe

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey visits

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey visited the Library of Birmingham construction site on 5 October before moving on to view Face to Face, a major retrospective exhibition of one of our most illustrious photographers, Brian Griffin, in the city of his birth. Following the exhibition, Griffin will be donating work from the exhibition to Birmingham Central Library. This is an important addition to the library's world-class photographic collection which will be given a new home in the Library of Birmingham when it opens in 2013. Read more about Brian Griffin's Face to Face - www.briangriffin-facetoface.co.uk

Roy McFarlane, Brian Gambles and Sara Beadle

New Partnership with Writing West Midlands

Local writers are set to benefit from a new collaboration announced between the Library of Birmingham and Writing West Midlands, the regional literature development agency. Recently appointed Birmingham Poet Laureate, Roy McFarlane, joined Project Director, Brian Gambles, and Director of the Birmingham Book Festival, Sara Beadle, at the site of the Library of Birmingham to unveil details of the new collaboration which will enable local writers to tap into a wealth of resources and activities shared by the two organisations. This latest literary link-up is part of the Library of Birmingham's strategy to forge a series of creative partnerships in the region and beyond by the time it opens in 2013. The partnership will generate a high-profile programme of literary events during the opening year and will see the Birmingham Book Festival adopt the Library of Birmingham as its new home.

 ©Courtesy of BFI

Partnership announced between the Library of Birmingham and BFI Mediatheque

This exciting partnership will give free access to hours of classic films, television, documentaries and even home movies to visitors to the BFI Mediatheque. Many of the rarest and most extraordinary titles in the BFI National Archive will be available when the Library of Birmingham opens in 2013.

Community Engagement

A big thank you to everyone who took part in a focus group or activity and for giving us your views on what you wanted in the new Library of Birmingham. This report shows how we have made changes to the design based on what you told us". Report on Community Engagement May - June 2009


The first nine apprenticeships have been awarded under a training and employment agreement between Birmingham City Council’s Employment Access Team (EAT) and Wolverhampton-based Carillion, the official contractor appointed to build the new library.

Library of Birmingham archaeologists

Archaeological dig unveils the past

Following successful completion of the archaeological excavation of the former car park site, the team from Birmingham Archaeology moved into the Centenary Square part of the Library of Birmingham site in November 2009. A public viewing platform, with a wheelchair and push-chair friendly ramp, enabled closer viewing of the site works as excavations continue. It also featured information panels about the history of the site. Two public open days took place in 2009, when archaeologists were on hand to explain to members of the public what the excavation was revealing. The archaeological excavation of the site has uncovered remains from the city’s industrial past not far below the car park surface. Archaeologists from the University of Birmingham recorded the canal arm and factory remains before construction work for the new library began.
The Civic Centre car park next to The REP closed permanently in July 2009 to enable the excavation to take place. Alternative car parking is available in other car parks nearby, including Brindley Drive multi-storey, Brunel Street multi-storey and the National Indoor Arena. Additional disabled parking bays have been created on the road in Brindley Drive (outside the multi-storey car park) .

You can download an information leaflet containing a map of the Council's car parks at www.birmingham.gov.uk/parking

Aquifer testing for Library of Birmingham

Going underground for ‘green’ energy system

The Council’s construction partner for the Library of Birmingham, Carillion, has conducted preliminary tests for an aquifer ground source system, a renewable energy resource that will utilise ground water to supplement the energy source for the new library and provide chilled water to the air conditioning system. Using a production well, groundwater will be abstracted from an aquifer. Following heat rejection via a heat exchanger in the building, the groundwater will then be discharged back to the aquifer via an injection well. Constant groundwater temperature can thereby be maintained throughout the year with this open loop system. Two 150 metre-deep bore holes were drilled in Centenary Square and on the Cambridge Street side of The REP to check the suitability of the areas for the aquifer system. Preliminary trials to check the water flow rate concluded in November 2009. If the results are successful, the renewable energy resource will help the library greatly minimise its CO2 emissions.

Planning application approved

A detailed planning application for the Library of Birmingham was submitted to the local planning authority in August 2009. The planning application shows that the design for the new library has evolved but not significantly changed since the concept design was unveiled in April 2009. The height has been reduced by one level in response to consultation and other elements of the design have been refined, such as the amphitheatre and its relationship between the library and Centenary Square. The detailed design also confirms that the historic Shakespeare Memorial Room will be located in the roof level rotunda. On 26 November 2009 the Planning Committee agreed planning consent for the Library of Birmingham (subject to some conditions). Further detailed design work is continuing, with the detailed design work to RIBA Stage D completed this autumn. Summary of the planning application The full planning application is available at Planning Online. The number is 2009/03897/PA.

Library of Birmingham concept design

Designs for Library of Birmingham

In April 2009, Mike Whitby, Leader of Birmingham City Council, unveiled the design concepts for the new Library of Birmingham by the acclaimed Dutch architects Mecanoo.

Listing of existing Central Library

English Heritage have advised the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport that the Central Library meets the criteria for Grade II listing. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport are now considering all the evidence and decide whether to grant immunity or to list the building. Update - 23 November 2009 - Culture Minister Margaret Hodge announced, during a visit to Birmingham, that the Central Library building has been granted immunity from listing. Further comments on immunity from listing.