The Hobbit is first book at Library of Birmingham

By on 29/04/2013 in Leader, News

The Hobbit becomes first book placed on the shelves of new Library of Birmingham

•    Event marks the imminent handover of £188.8 million construction project from construction partner, Carillion, to Birmingham City Council
•    Project physically connects the Library of Birmingham the neighbouring Birmingham Repertory Theatre with which it will share a foyer and other facilities
•    The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien was selected by Twitter competition to be the first book placed on shelves
•    Huge task of moving books and internationally-important archives and collections is about to begin
Today, 29 April 2013, The Hobbit became the first book to be placed on the shelves of the Library of Birmingham.  The book, J.R.R. Tolkien's much-loved 1937 children's fantasy tale, was placed on the shelf by Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council, to mark the imminent handover of the building by Carillion, the Library of Birmingham's construction partner, to Birmingham City Council.

Members of Library staff, council representatives and Carillion employees gathered in the dramatic rotunda which will house the five storey book wall. The rotunda, at the very heart of the Library of Birmingham, features a series of cantilevered circular balconies each providing access a different part of the shelves that comprise the book wall. Escalators zigzag across the space, providing stunning views throughout the Library and access for all to over 400,000 books, more than double the amount currently on show at Central Library.

The imminent handover also marks a major milestone in the two-and-a-half year refurbishment of Birmingham Repertory Theatre. The REP’s team will now oversee the internal fit-out of fixtures and fittings and begin the testing and snagging processes to get the theatre ready for performances.  Relocating the company back into the building will take place from the end of May through to July. The REP also opens to the public on 3 September 2013 with a new 300-seat studio theatre – for shared use with the Library of Birmingham – as well as the restoration of the building’s original façade, plus much improved public and backstage facilities.

Staff at Birmingham's Central Library have been working for many months to prepare the city's millions of books, music, archive and heritage resources, photographic images and rare books for the move. The process will see specialist move contractor Nexus transfer millions of items over the coming months. It is estimated that 1,100 crates will be brought into the new Library every day for three months - a total of 66,000 crates in all. Placed end to end, the Library's books would stretch from Birmingham to Edinburgh.

The city's internationally-important archives and collections will be housed in a climatically controlled “golden box” of secure archive storages, These include one of the world's largest Shakespeare collections, the Parker Collection of Children's Books and Games, the Early and Fine Printing Collection, the Boulton & Watt archive and Photography Collection – one of only nine national collections and the only to be housed within a public library.

Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council, says:

“The Library of Birmingham is a beacon of what the library sector can offer society, providing specialist services for all in business, personal health and learning, and events, live performances and exhibitions for all ages and tastes. But books remain the heart of what libraries are about, and it seems only fitting that The Hobbit, a book inspired by Tolkien's Birmingham childhood, is the first book to be placed on these stunning shelves.”

Simon Dingle, Operations Director at Carillion, says:

“We're thrilled that the construction of the Library of Birmingham is almost complete. The project has been a true partnership, and over the course of the project, 293 local persons and 84 trade apprentices have been created on site.”

To enable Library staff to focus efforts on the move, Central Library, which opened in 1974, will close permanently on Saturday 29 June 2013, apart from Reception, Tourist Information and Box Office located in the foyer. The new Library of Birmingham website provides access to information about the collections and other resources, including some of the library's archives which have been digitised and made available online for the first time.

The Library of Birmingham will open to the public on 3 September 2013 with gala opening followed by a four month Discovery Season, inspired by the Library's archives and collections. The extensive and diverse programme will bring to life the spaces and bring to life the Library’s stunning new spaces with installations, events, performances, workshops, and music and dance for every age and interest.


For more information or images please contact Matt Railton or Truda Spruyt at Four Colman Getty on 020 3023 9947 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 on September 3rd 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.

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.

About Mecanoo
Mecanoo, officially founded in Delft in 1984, is made up of a highly multidisciplinary staff of over 90 creative professionals from 25 nationalities and includes architects, interior designers, urban planners, landscape architects and architectural technicians. The company is directed by its original founding architect, Prof. ir. Francine M.J. Houben and technical director Aart Fransen and are joined by partners Francesco Veenstra, Ellen van der Wal and Paul Ketelaars. The extensive experience gained over more than 25 years, together with structured planning processes results in designs that are realized with technical expertise and great attention to detail.

About Carillion

Carillion is a leading integrated support services company with a substantial portfolio of Public Private Partnership projects and extensive construction capabilities.  The Group had annual revenue in 2012 of some £4.4 billion, employs around 42,000 people and operates across the UK, in the Middle East and Canada.

About Capita Symonds
Capita Symonds is one of the UK’s largest and most diverse multidisciplinary consultancies operating in the building design, real estate, civil engineering, environment, management and transport sectors. With over 4000 staff in over 60 UK and international offices we offer an unrivalled scope of services and a unique blend of professional and technical skills to schemes of all types and complexities.

Tags: , , ,


If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.