New Faces of the Library of Birmingham Announced

By on 23/12/2011 in News

The Leader of Birmingham City Council, Mike Whitby, today announced the names of the six new Faces of the Library of Birmingham.

They include a salsa-dancing linguist, a new media entrepreneur and a veteran of community work, and will join 11 previously announced Faces as honorary representatives of the Library of Birmingham. Films introducing all of the Faces of the Library of Birmingham can be found at

Councillor Mike Whitby, Leader of Birmingham City Council, comments:
“The Faces are the living representatives of what the Library of Birmingham is about. As we announce the latest new names, I'd like to invite all other Brummies with a passion for libraries to apply to become one of the remaining Faces of the Library of Birmingham.”

The new Faces are:

Thomas O'Flaherty, 43, from Hockley

Dance instructor and language student Thomas O'Flaherty has lived in Birmingham for most of his life. As well as teaching Salsa, Latin Jazz and Zumba classes all over the city, Thomas is a skilled linguist who speaks Spanish and French and is found most days studying Mandarin and Russian at Central Library. He hopes that the new performance spaces at the Library of Birmingham, including the amphitheatre in Centenary Square, will open up the library to Brummies with a wide range of interests.

Steven Woodhouse, 44, and Trevor Boddington, 42, from Bordesley Green
Steven Woodhouse and his carer Trevor Boddington met in their late twenties and soon realised they shared a love of creating things. They use Central Library to research their ideas for their art projects, transforming household junk, such as bottle caps and tin cans, into replicas of their favourite childhood toys. The Library of Birmingham will mean improved access for them and many others, making the collections, resources and services of the library accessible to all.

Eunice McGhie-Belgrave from Stetchford

Having arrived in Birmingham from Jamaica in 1957, Eunice McGhie-Belgrave has worked tirelessly in her local community ever since. She has run a diverse range of community projects including 'Shades of Black' which was set up after the 1989 Handsworth riots to help build pride amongst young people in their communities. Several of these projects are now housed within the archives at Central Library, and she hopes that the new exhibition spaces will inspire more Brummies to celebrate their city.

Gary Baker, 37, from Sutton Coldfield

Dublin-born entrepreneur Gary Baker runs an internet marketing company from his home in Sutton Coldfield. Gary retrained after a period of unemployment, using Central Library's Business Resource Centre to find the services and information he needed. Gary believes that the improved business facilities that will be available at the Library of Birmingham will be a huge help to start-up companies like his own.

Ian Myatt, 34, from Sutton Coldfield

As Head of Knowledge & Learning for BBC Online, Ian Myatt manages a range of websites, including BBC Food and BBC Bitesize. His love of all things digital was fostered in Birmingham libraries, where he first had access to computers and the internet. He's excited that the Library of Birmingham will lead the way in using technology to allow people from all around the world to access its collections, as well as providing a vibrant, open place for the people of Birmingham to learn, explore and socialise.

Though he works all around the country, he spends a lot of time in Birmingham. He manages The New Streetly Orchestra, plays in a band that rehearses in Selly Oak, is a Trustee of Performance Birmingham Ltd and the chair of the Sutton Coldfield Arts Forum.

Saadiah Harun Kilburn, 50, from Birmingham

Saadiah Harun Kilburn, 50, has lived in Birmingham for five years. She grew up in Malaysia and has also lived in Japan, where she completed her first degree in 1996. She now teaches Japanese at both a college and a language centre in Birmingham. It was while researching her dissertation at Central Library that Saadiah met her husband and she is passionate about the way libraries can promote understanding between cultures through shared languages.

The 'Rewriting the Book Campaign' aims to find 26 people, one for every letter of the alphabet, to represent the many values of the Library of Birmingham and help bring the new building to life for others. As real people with real passions, the Faces embody the variety and wealth of the services, facilities and possibilities that the Library of Birmingham will provide to the city's residents and the wider world when it opens in 2013.

The application process is now open to find the remaining Faces. In particular, the library is looking for people with a specific interest in the Environment, History, Health, Science, Art or Photography and Film, and particularly welcome applications from teenagers. Applications can be self-submitted or on behalf of a friend, relative or colleague.
The 'Faces' of the Library of Birmingham will feature on promotional material for the new library, including the website. Their individual stories will be used to highlight the many diverse services to be provided by the Library of Birmingham, and, as honorary 'ambassadors' they will be involved in promotional activity and spreading the word about the library to their local communities.

Information on all the current Faces can be found at, along with more information on how to apply or to nominate a friend to be a Face of the Library of Birmingham.


For more information please contact Matt Railton or Sarah Watson at Colman Getty on 020 7631 2666. or

Notes to editors

About the Library of Birmingham

The Library of Birmingham will be a major new cultural destination, rewriting the book for 21st century public libraries. It opens in 2013.

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 flexible 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 Birmingham Repertory Theatre, 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.

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