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Birmingham City Council

The Library of Birmingham

Rewriting the Book
Library of Birmingham

The Library of Birmingham is now open in Centenary Square.

Website homepage


New website

The new website is now live at libraryofbirmingham.com. This will be a taste of things to come online.



Adrian Lester




Latest News will now be posted on the new website at


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REP 100

REP 100

As The REP celebrates one hundred years of theatre-making its story will be brought to life through its centenary project, REP 100. The archives of Sir Barry Jackson and Birmingham Repertory Theatre, currently held at Birmingham Central Library, will be made available to the public for the first time.

Charlie Chaplin March Grotesque

Musical gems discovered at Birmingham Central Library

Preparations for the move to the new library have uncovered what could be the UK's largest collection of silent movie scores, including a unique Charlie Chaplin theme tune. The collection, most of which belonged to movie theatre Musical Directors Louis Benson and HT Saunders, consists of 500 scores and parts for use with silent movies. It is representative of the entire oeuvre of silent movie music between 1915 and 1929, the golden age of the silent movie, and reveals what audiences at the time were listening to. Find out more about the Silent Movie Score Collection.


Self Portrait Birmingham

Self Portrait Birmingham

New self-portrait project to take snapshot of Birmingham's people.

One of the original architects behind the 1979 Handsworth Self Portrait project, Brian Homer, is calling for people across Birmingham to submit their own self-portraits to help create a snapshot of the city's people in 2011. Called Self Portrait Birmingham, the project was commissioned by Birmingham City Council as part of the new library project. Find out more about Self Portrait Birmingham.



Designs for the library

Library of Birmingham concept design
In April 2009, Mike Whitby, Leader of Birmingham City Council, unveiled the design concepts for the new library by the acclaimed Dutch architects Mecanoo.

The library will be situated on Centenary Square between the The REP (Birmingham Repertory Theatre) and Baskerville House. The project will make a huge contribution to the regeneration of the city, creating 250 new construction jobs including 25 apprenticeships.

The library building will be joined to The REP at ground and mezzanine levels and will share the foyer, bars, restaurants and a new 300 seat studio theatre.

The large entrance canopy welcomes the visitor into the building which is characterised by circles - an amphitheatre below Centenary Square, the interior overlapping rotundas and on the outside the delicate filigree circles , inspired by the city’s tradition of craftsmanship and industry.

The journey through the building will be by escalators and travelators giving the visitor a constantly changing view lit by natural light. The design incorporates two outside terraces with magnificent views.

The library will be a cultural centre drawing visitors from all over the world and a second home for the city’s diverse communities. It is designed to be highly accessible to all - everyone will feel welcome and comfortable. It will be a community hub, reaching out to all parts of the city in an exchange of knowledge and ideas . . . a place to interact, a place to learn, study and a place to meet and take part in activities and events for families, businesses, groups and individuals of all ages. New technology will enable the city’s photographic and archive collections to be viewed and shared much more widely.

Mecanoo - the design team

The design team for the project is led by Mecanoo, an architectural practice which has received many awards and accolades for their stunning and innovative work.
Mecanoo's director and founding partner, Francine Houben, is an outstanding architect who was recently voted Dutch business woman of the year because of her entrepreneurship, vision, business and social influence and leadership. Francine and her team have been working with the City Council on the project since August 2008.
More about Mecanoo working with the library team and The REP

From left: Clive Dutton, former Director of Planning & Regeneration, Birmingham City Council, and architects Francine Houben and Francesco Veenstra of Mecanoo sign the contract for the design of the new library.
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The Business Case

The business case sets out the details of the proposal, including information about the costs, funding and delivery programme. It is available to download - Library of Birmingham Business Case

Strategic Design Brief

 (Size: 1.49 Mb Type: pdf )

Request Paper Copy:

Rewriting the Book