Tag Archives: Libraries

Birmingham Libraries in Trouble


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Library of Birmingham (photo by me)

So what I had feared is happening. Birmingham, yes, cannot really afford its lovely new library. I was concerned from the beginning (well sort of) that the opening of a fancy, new, and- yes- expensive library would effect the libraries in Birmingham as a whole.

First the hours were cut and staff were let go. Now apparently new fiction is not being bought- there’s just no budget. I fact reportedly some Birmingham libraries have been asking for donations for their shelves.

I love the Library of Birmingham. It is a beautiful building, and of course all the books. However I never really saw a problem with the old one at least it terms of it’s purpose as a library. You couldn’t exactly call it beautiful, but it had books, and places to read them, which is the important thing really. It’s nice to have a library which isn’t a concrete monstrosity, but I’d rather have the old old library back based on the pictures I’ve seen, apparently at the time it was too ‘showy’ though, and the knocked it down when the ugly new library (of the time) was built.

Victorian Library (source)

The Library of Birmingham is probably the library I use the most (there are others closer to home, but I travel through town every day. It is certainly a nice library to have as my main library, although the decreased opening hours have meant that it’s often already closed when I am travelling through town on the way home.

That fiction is being cut I think really shows the attitude that libraries and reading are a luxury. Is this true though? Whilst non-fiction may be more intellectually enriching, fiction is, at least generally speaking, more emotionally enriching. Is that the type of society we really want? Where intelligence is rated above compassion or empathy? Plus reading has been shown to have good effects on mental health which is surely a good thing.

Old central library (source)

Again it is the poor that are getting hit. Those for whom the library is their only, or their main source of books. I am lucky. I can afford to buy more books than I really ‘need’. I have a pile of books waiting to be read which could last me a few months, and enough Waterstone’s points to buy three or four books if I’m really desperate.

However I remember a time when I used the library a lot. I did much of my studying for my GCSEs there, and spent a lot of time there during my holidays. I was a frequent visitor at the school library. If it wasn’t for the library- and yes, especially the fiction section I wouldn’t be the reader I am today.

Reading isn’t a luxury. Reading is a way of life, and in a world where there are so many other things to distract potential readers shouldn’t we be putting more into our libraries, not taking away from them. Books create a person, books are a lot of what I am, not just a reader, but my personality too. I hate to think of a world where this access to self is lost.

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Filed under general, Musings

Library of Birmingham Opened!


I was going to write a whole long involved post about the library opening today, but after visiting I think my  pictures say it best. I’m just going to add a few facts between photos.

 

The library was opened by Malala Yousafzai who completed the current library collection by adding her own copy of The Alchemist to the shelves.

The first book placed on the shelves was The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien, who came from Birmingham and who took inspiration from his Birmingham surroundings for settings in his novels.

The gold middle section of the library holds the ‘Birmingham treasures’ which contains rare and old documents. (see photo above)

The top gold section contains the Shakespeare Memorial room which is taken from the old Victorian Birmingham Library.

There are two gardens which give beautiful views of the city and have places to sit and read

The new library is the biggest public library in Europe.

The library cost £189m but was under budget (yay!)

It has caused some controversy being opened when libraries up and down the country are being closed, although only one has closed within Birmingham.

You can see more of my photos of the library on facebook

You can find out more about The Library of Birmingham on their website.

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Filed under Fiction review