Next week the new £189m Library of Birmingham opens its doors to the public after the closure of it predecessor back in June.
Wednesday I was lucky enough to be given access to the building at a preview tour.
There were still workmen on site completing the finishing touches, but from what I saw I can tell you that the residents of Birmingham are in for a treat.
This is what a library of the 21st century should be.
9 floors of books and technology, interactive – touch screen displays, gallery space, conference facilities and terrace gardens. Gone are the traditional rows. upon rows of bookshelves replaced by something light, airy, spacious and fun.
The children’s library on the lower ground floor is decorated with images from the books the shelves hold, with an area for games, activities and storytelling. The music library wraps itself around a windowed amphitheater which full opens out into an indoor/outdoor performance space. The knowledge department that covers floor 3, 4 and 5 has echos of the traditional reading rooms with grand balconies and books as far as the eye can see. The discovery zone has plenty of workspaces for you to roll up and plug your laptop in.
There is a roof terrace with outdoor seating, an optional bar, wonderful scented edible flower beds and a view down onto Centenary Square and on the 9th floor just outside of the golden turret is a wall of windows offering a wonderful panoramic view across the city, and an touch screen “toposcope” allowing you to find more detail about what your looking at AND in the golden turret on top is a the wonderful Shakespeare Collection housed in it original setting transferred sympathetically from old building.
But that’s not even half of it – Each and every floor has the most wonderful array of seating, and nooks and holes inviting you to grab a book take a seat and loose yourself for and hour. There as 2 cafes, blue sky views from the ground floor ( no really), a host of activities for all ages and free wifi throughout.
If it sounds like I’m gushing it’s because I am!
I really did think it was a library suitable for the Birmingham of today, that people of all ages could use appriciate and take some joy in.
Below are some more photos of my trip there. You can find more photos of the details of the building by searching the web, but I haven’t shared those because I think you really need to go there and see it for yourself!