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Added: 16 November 2021
The Library of Birmingham is a public library in Birmingham, England.
It is situated on the west side of the city center at Centenary Square, beside the Birmingham Rep connects and shares some facilities) and Baskerville House. Upon opening on 3 September 2013, it replaced Birmingham Central Library. The Library, which is estimated to have cost £188.8 million, is viewed by the Birmingham City Council as a flagship project for the city and was completed to a high standard of design and technology.
The site of the building, formerly the Birmingham City Gaol, was chosen to be the home of the new Birmingham Central Library because it was close to the center of the city; had good transport connections, including a close connection to New Street station, which leads directly into the city center; and because the former city Gaol had once been a major work of industrial art. The design is in the style of the classical period of architecture, and the building is divided into a series of linked square, semi-circular and rounded volumes.
The Library consists of five primary levels, the first three being below ground and two levels above ground. A central rotunda with a lift connects all five levels and connects to two underground bookshops; an arcade links all the prominent public and study areas and two other shopping spaces. The central rotunda is accessible via escalator from New Street station. Four public areas are situated above the central rotunda, which contains the study area and the main foyer for the Library. Another circular study area is located at the top of the building, and consists of two levels and provides sweeping views of the city, the surrounding area and the Birmingham airport. Four levels of public and study areas are situated below ground level. This includes the underground bookshops and below ground transport to the Library, which a tube station accesses on the Piccadilly to Snow Hill Line.
The ground and first floor are dedicated to education, and the first-floor study area is linked to the first-floor shop by an interior walkway. The Library has two main reading rooms, the Main Reading Room and the John Sandoe Reading Room, which both have floor-to-ceiling glass windows. The Main Reading Room is situated above the first floor of the Library and is a large, airy room that includes a reading desk, three meeting rooms, a bar and four exhibition spaces. The John Sandoe Reading Room is situated on the ground floor and provides seating and a quiet reading area. The Library also has a café, the Bookmark Cafe, which occupies the first floor. The café has a roof terrace and views of Birmingham’s skyline, and the building has a small library museum.
The two underground bookshops are located beneath the central rotunda, and open from 11 am-7 pm Monday to Saturday. They contain books and CDs and offer an assortment of magazines and newspapers. A cinema for children is also located on the first floor, which is operated by the Midlands Region of the BFI. The cinema screens new releases for children aged from 6 to 16. There are over 12,000 books and CDs, which are available for loan. Staff regularly collect children’s library books on the first floor of the Library, and a selection of children’s books are available in the children’s Library on the ground floor. There are also magazines for adults and children’s DVDs and CDs. All material is free to borrow.
The Library was the second building in the UK to have the world’s largest public access 3D printer; the world’s first public access automatic guided vehicle; and the world’s first public access, wireless, interactive, 3D holographic microscope; the latest innovation of which is being installed on the 6th Floor Rotunda, in which the most recent editions of books and information in 3D can be looked at and discussed.
List of former public libraries in England
Birmingham Central Library – official website
Category: History of Birmingham, West Midlands
Category: Library buildings completed in 1885
Category: Libraries in Birmingham, West Midlands
Type: City and town halls in Birmingham, West Midlands
Category: Grade II listed buildings in Birmingham
Category: Music venues in Birmingham, West Midlands