Central Library to stay open throughout relocation

By on 08/02/2011 in News

With plans to open the new £188 million Library of Birmingham very much on course for 2013, Birmingham City Council has today unveiled details of how it plans to begin the gargantuan task of cataloguing, packing and ultimately moving millions of books, artefacts and other items currently within the existing building.

Unlike many other major libraries in the UK such as Newcastle, Manchester and Liverpool*, which have closed over recent years as they undergo major redevelopment or relocation, the majority of services at Birmingham's Central Library will remain open throughout the process right up until the Library of Birmingham opens in 2013.

Phase one of the relocation project, to begin in July 2011, will see floors four, five and six of the library closed to the public to allow among other things, specialist work to catalogue and pack more than two million delicate items from the archive and heritage collection to begin.

While computers and key information services from the upper floors will be moved down to areas still open, access to some of the specialist collections currently housed at floor four and above, including the archives and heritage service, will need to be restricted or in some cases suspended.

Only in April 2013, three months before the Library of Birmingham actually opens, will the remaining public services be suspended, although the foyer, enquiry service and a managed study area for exam students will even then continue to operate from the Central Library site.

Brian Gambles, Assistant Director of Culture, said: “Preparing for the opening of the Library of Birmingham is a huge operation, and it would have been all too easy for us to follow the example of others by closing the service down throughout the works.

“Instead we have developed a plan which in the short term will see the people of Birmingham able to continue to access the majority of services the library has to offer. They will then be able to enjoy all the long term benefits and services improvements which will accompany the opening of the Library of Birmingham.”


Notes to editors

* Newcastle library closed for 2 years (2007-2009) during construction of a new central library

*Manchester Library is currently closed until 2013, operating only a skeleton service from temporary accommodation, while a major refurbishment and extension is carried out

*Liverpool library closed last year as work to develop the new Liverpool Central library began.

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