First glimpse inside Birmingham’s new £188m library

The modern marvel that is Birmingham’s new library is days away from its grand opening – and today the Express & Star offers a glimpse inside the iconic £188million building.

Stacked high over Centenary Square, the library, which is the biggest of its kind in Europe, is already a landmark in the city centre.

Dominating the Birmingham skyline, the structure is covered in 5,357 interlocking steel circles and has been built as a replacement for the neighbouring Central Library.

And now the Express & Star can reveal the inside of the structure, which is home to almost one million books.

The Library of Birmingham also features multiple performance spaces, rooftop terraces, a large glass-topped central book rotunda and interactive touch-screen ‘smart tables’.

Open-plan floors are linked with weaving flights of escalators, and the library also features a subterranean level and a special viewing platform at its top that houses one of the library’s many secrets – a room that dates back to the city’s Victorian library.

During its opening week, the public will be able to take part in workshops with local artists and tours of the building.

The building has also been designed to break the traditional rules of a library by providing areas where people can socialise and relax. Visitors are not expected to be shushed, as per the traditional notion that libraries are quiet places.

Instead bosses want book and music lovers to use the site as a social space where they can meet up with friends and chatter. The library is officially opened to the public on Tuesday.

New chapter for library - Double-page special in today's Express & Star

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Comments for: "First glimpse inside Birmingham’s new £188m library"

Whats the worst that can happen !

I had a terrible dream last night where the Country was in a terrible financial predicament, where people are struggling to pay bills and generally all was doom and gloom.

But then I read that we have just spent £188 million on a library !

Thank goodness that it was just a dream I had and really the Country is awash with money and we can afford to blow this kind of cash on something so essential !

Just an after thought, but on the basis that more and more books are downloaded on tablets, kindles etc, why do we need a library, surely a back street lock up would have been fine to store these books ?


What a miserable negative comment above. The new building is a work of art.

Whats the worst that can happen !


If you read my comment again, you will note that I made no comment about the artistic merit of the building.

It is indeed an interesting construction.

But at the end of the day, it is a £188 million 'work of art'.

Miserable? No.

Realistic? Absolutely.


Hey, "what's the worst"

I am not 100% sure, but the economic crisis/recession/sub-prime thingy (which I admit, I am not an expert in) started circa 2008?

Typically a build like this would take 3 - 4 years, the consultation, tendering process, contracts, negotiations, etc at least another 4, so this project was at least 8 years in the making - therefore started at a time of relative economic prosperity.

Also, I would imagine that once the contracts were signed, backing out of them would have been pretty hard for whichever agency/local government dept footed the when the economic crisis hit, they were bound by legal obligation to honour the contract.

No-one has a crystal ball - it's done now, so let's just enjoy it and hope for better times.


If we don't invest in the future of our youth then we can expect to wallow away in this financial doldrum for a lot longer.

Investment is a marathon not a sprint.

Whats the worst that can happen !


I didn't realise that this new Library was aimed primarily at our 'youth'.

I understood it to be a place where all would be welcome.

What is the expected usage by the aforementioned 'youth'?

Will it be greater than the old library?

Maybe they should have built a KFC (or similar) in there and designed it to look like the screen of a mobile phone.

That would have attracted plenty of 'youth'.

I agree wholeheartedly about investment, but I struggle to see the return on £188 million.

Please enlighten me?

macro economics

How uneducated ... the 188 million inkected stimuli into the construction and design sector alon with sub sectors. More variably the investment is a resource that has a life expentancy of 50 years and in that time can bring trade into birmingham cc. Further from this a city with a social hub has always projected better proffesionals from its universities. Period.


Well said mate I agree 188 million for a libary with all the council cuts it will be closed in a couple of years plus kids wont go there they are to busy sat at home on there consoles and computers


The new library is being paid for by money borrow against what will be raised from the rates earned on the commercial buildings which will replace the old Central Library.

So, much as it makes a good whining soundbite, banging on as if they're taken £188m from other services is entirely incorrect.

Whats the worst that can happen !


You really believe that this will be self financing through business rates collected else where?

I'm sorry, but you are in cloud cuckoo land.

What about the running costs of this library, I suppose this rate revenue bonanza will cover this aswell !!


Wolverhampton could only dream of getting a sniff of £188m to spend on its much neglected 'city' centre.

Brum gets a new railway station, metro extension, library costing hundreds of millions.

Wolverhampton overlooked and gets dismissed as a poor post industrialist satellite town. Despite our rich history and potential.

At what point does somebody stand up for our historic city and fight its corner?

Whats the worst that can happen !

Macro economics.

Wonderful political answer.

What evidence do you have to suggest that the 'City with a Social Hub will lead to better professionals from it's universities'?

Utter Rhetoric without anything of substance.


Birmingham council will make multiple times the money it spent to build the new library, by redeveloping Paradise circus with Argent. Do your research before you start moaning about money waste.

Whats the worst that can happen !

So just because you suggest it will make money from another project, justifies this huge spend on a Library.

Sounds like civil servant talk to me.

How much will be made?

When will this money be made and over what period?

How exactly is it to be made?

It's easy to say that the council will make the money back, but no substance to your statement.

If councils including Birmingham were as astute as you are implying, we would not have the huge deficits as a result of waste and miss-handling of public money that litter our local authorities.

Talk is cheap.

This library was not !


Sandwell paid half this amount for just a small Pink toilet and that's been closed


Flower of life geometric pattern.


What is the point of a library going forward? All books will be in e-format for kindles etc... I like the building but total waste of money in this economic climate


Worst chap, we are bored already with your inane comments, go & troll somewhere else....


just remember, this project put a lot of guys in work in spite of reccesion