One year to go until the opening of the Library of Birmingham
Today, Monday 3 September marks one year to go until the new £188.8 million Library of Birmingham opens to the public. Carillion, principal contractor for the project, is on target to hand over the building to Birmingham City Council in April 2013. Meanwhile the task of conservation and preparing for the move continues at Birmingham Central Library.
The celebrations to mark a year to go include:
• An event at the Royal Society of Arts in London on Wednesday 5 September, Rewriting the Book, at which a distinguished panel discussed the regenerative potential of large culture-led development schemes. This is available as a podcast at http://www.thersa.org/events/audio-and-past-events/2012/rewriting-the-book
• A host of activity at Artsfest, including Library of Birmingham Live, hosted by Face of the Library of Birmingham Shaun Baxter on Sunday 9 September, alongside tours of the Library of Birmingham site and exhibitions in Central Library and Chamberlain Square all weekend.
Central Library houses the city’s internationally important 6,000 or more archive collections, two million photographic stills, more than 150,000 items of music, and rare books. Over 8,000 of the Library’s rare books were printed before 1700. The collection includes a Shakespeare First Folio, Audubon’s ‘Birds of America’, one of the world’s largest books, and one of the three known perfect copies of ‘Cordiale or the Four Last Thinges’ printed in 1479 by William Caxton.
Work is already well advanced to prepare the archives for their transfer to the Library of Birmingham whose new facilities will include state-of-the-art exhibition gallery space and new online facilities, helping to increase public access to the collections for the first time.
The REP will be moving back into Centenary Square during the summer after a two and a half year refurbishment and extension of its building. It will also reopen to the public in September 2013, with its first season of productions under the new artistic directorship of Roxana Silbert.
Brian Gambles, the Library of Birmingham’s Project Director comments,
“The new Library of Birmingham has been taking shape before our eyes over the past few months, and is already becoming established as part of the changing landscape of the city. We’re looking forward to welcoming the city and the world to the People’s Palace in just one year’s time.”
Councillor Ian Ward, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council comments,
“With one year to go it’s a time to look forward to the opening of the new Library of Birmingham, but it’s also a time to reflect on the progress that has been made so far. I’m hugely proud of everyone involved in all aspects of this exciting project; there has been an outstanding level of commitment and enthusiasm and I’m sure this will continue.”
An official opening ceremony is being planned for Autumn 2013 as part of the opening Discovery Festival. Further announcements will be made next year.
To explore the new Library before it opens 2013 go to birmingham.gov.uk/libraryofbirmingham/virtual to view it in Second Life.