The Prime Minister, David Cameron, joined Leader of Birmingham City Council, Mike Whitby, at the £193m Library of Birmingham site today to review progress on the landmark project and reveal plans to create a Library of Birmingham Development Trust.
During a tour of the development site, which will be completed in 2013, Mr Cameron learnt how the Library will be the most modern and significant centre for culture and learning in the UK, with services designed directly with the public’s needs in mind.
With cutting edge and user friendly cultural, social and educational facilities on offer the Library will play a key role in empowering the citizens of Birmingham and beyond to help shape the ‘Big Society’ of the UK’s future.
The creation of the Library of Birmingham Development Trust, an independent charity, will raise funds to complement Birmingham City Council’s investment in the project which will be home to some of the world’s most important archive and photographic collections. Its trustees will be drawn from leaders of the community who have a commitment to cultural services.
Mike Whitby said, “We are close to announcing the formal creation of The Library of Birmingham Trust which will be a channel for encouraging enhanced communication between the communities served by the Library on a local, national and international basis.
“Its establishment will be a forum for community input to library services, volunteering and partnership with other organisations such as universities, businesses and cultural agencies.
“Birmingham is proud to be leading the way in the provision of library services through the Trust, enabling greater financial resources than would be available through statutory funding alone. It is a dramatic example of the UK Government’s Big Society vision and will be rooted in and led by the community, working in partnership with us to ensure world class resources.”
The Library of Birmingham Trust will support and enhance the annual investment by Birmingham City Council in services, programmes and capital development through philanthropy, commercial income and social enterprise.”
Notes to editors – Library of Birmingham background information
The Library of Birmingham will be a major new cultural destination, rewriting the book for 21st century public libraries. It opens in 2013.
Designed by international architects Mecanoo, the Library of Birmingham will be located in the city’s Centenary Square. The building will comprise a spacious entrance and foyer with mezzanine, lower ground level with indoor terraces, four further public levels and two outdoor garden terraces, a ‘golden box’ of secure archive storage occupying two levels, provision for staff offices and service plant on a further two levels and at the very top of the building a rotunda feature housing the Shakespeare Memorial Room. In all, the facilities are spread over 10 levels of varying size and usage.
The new library will be physically connected to Birmingham Repertory Theatre (The REP) and the two organisations will work in partnership, bringing together the written and spoken word through drama, poetry and performance.
The Library of Birmingham will provide a showcase for the city’s internationally important collections of archives, photography and rare books. New facilities including state-of-the-art gallery space will open up public access to the collections for the first time. It will also be home to a BFI Mediatheque, providing free access to the National Film Archive. Other facilities will include a new 300 seat studio theatre, an outdoor amphitheatre and other informal performance spaces, a recording studio, and dedicated spaces for children and teenagers. By harnessing new technology, everyone from Birmingham to Beijing, Bangalore and beyond will be able to access the Library of Birmingham’s world-class resources. More than three million visitors are expected each year, and millions more online.
Described by its architect Francine Houben as a ‘people’s palace’, the Library of Birmingham will be highly accessible and family-friendly. It will deliver excellent services through collaboration between the library, The REP, partners and communities. It will provide a dynamic mix of events, activities and performance together with outstanding resources, exhibitions and access to expert help for learning, information and culture. As a centre of excellence for literacy, research, study, skills development, entrepreneurship, creative expression, health information and much more, the Library of Birmingham will change people’s lives.
For more information, contact Simon Houltby on 07920 750010