Since the opening of the Birmingham Public Reference Library in 1866, the Birmingham Collection has become one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of its type in the country; its greatest strength lies in the wide variety of materials it contains from standard text books to theatre programmes, exhibition catalogues to DVDs.
The collection is an officially recognised repository of printed reference information materials held in the Archives and Collections section of the Library of Birmingham. Many of its items are unique and rare and have specific association with the cultural and historic development of Birmingham.
What constitutes as Birmingham
The definition of what constitutes Birmingham is based upon the geographical area currently administered by Birmingham City Council although discrepancies occur with organisations such the West Midlands Police Force which has headquarters in Birmingham but also administers policing for all of the West Midlands area.
Other factors to consider are the media and public perceptions of what constitutes Birmingham which typically expands well outside of the current geographical boundaries.
The Birmingham Collection caters to the requirements of a wide and varied range of users:
- The uninformed reader, a novice making their first endeavours into local history research.
- The informed reader hoping to delve further into a specific area of research.
- Researchers and students.
- Occupational groups including Birmingham City Council employees.
The Birmingham Collection attempts to provide immediate and current information as well as more detailed historical data providing a reflection of the cultural, demographic, economic, historical, philosophical, political and social factors contributing to the fabric of the city.