January 28, 2022

Roundup: UK: Birmingham’s New Central Library (Largest Public Lending Library in Europe) Opens

The new Birmingham Central Library opened earlier today in Birmingham, UK.

Here’s a roundup of coverage. The new 333,000 sq. ft. building cost $294 million/USD. We’ve also embedded a copy of the library’s visitor guide at the bottom of this post.


Photos: The new Library of Birmingham – in pictures (via The Guardian)

Photos: Take a Look at the Two Rooftop Gardens (via ITV)

Video: Tour of the New Library (via BBC) 

The Library of Birmingham, first look (via The Telegraph)

The library’s marketing chief Sarah Rowell told the BBC: “We want to get over the notion that libraries are quiet places where you’ll be shushed if you raise your voice … there’s room for activity, noise, joining-in and getting together with friends.”

The New Library of Birmingham (via Designing Libraries)

The new building, designed by Dutch architects Mecanoo, replaces the adjacent 1974 brutalist concrete central library, which is to be demolished.
The Library of Birmingham, integrated with the REP theatre, has been developed from an educationally focused brief as a place of learning and community rather than a ‘traditional library model’, says Francine Houben, who led the design project. It includes several auditoriums, learning spaces and its own library theatre.

Birmingham’s £189m new library (via Construction Daily)

The interior spans an area of 29,000 sq m, making it the largest public library in Europe – is connected via a series of overlapping rotundas that serve as the main vertical circulation route.

“We wanted to make a building that brings coherence to the urban network and architectural rhythm of Birmingham,” said Mecanoo architect Francine Houben. “Our dream is to create a ‘people’s palace’: inviting, welcoming, inspiring for all ages and backgrounds; one that entices passers-by to enter and embark on a journey of discovery.”

The heart of the library will be the book rotunda, which houses much of the archive that will be on display to the public. This is ringed by four levels of circular balconies, accessible by zig-zagging elevators.

As £188m Library of Birmingham Opens, Others Continue to Struggle (via The Guardian)

Birmingham Central Library’s Archive Packed For Move (via BBC)

Packing archives, which has been happening since 2009, for the new Library of Birmingham, “has been mindblowing,” staff said.

Staff, working with relocation specialists Nexus Property Solutions, will finish the move this week.

Stuart Phile, head of specialist relocations with Nexus, said it was one of the largest tasks ever faced by the firm.

“There hasn’t been another job quite like this,” he said.

“In total, we have had 65 people working all day, plus weekends and evenings to get it all done.

“Broken down, it has taken 4,000 working days to complete it

Library of Birmingham Visitor Guide

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.