The new £188 million Library of Birmingham will have a vast impact on the city’s education and cultural life when it opens in 2013. However, getting the building ready for opening will be just part of the operation – there’s also the task of transferring everything over to the new construction while continuing to offer the service local residents have come to expect to expect from the city’s library services.
Birmingham City Council has unveiled details of how they plan to begin the task of cataloguing, packing and ultimately moving millions of books, artifacts and other items currently within the existing building. While other major libraries have closed whilst undergoing major redevelopment or relocation, the majority of services at the Central Library will remain open throughout the process; right up until the Library of Birmingham’s scheduled opening in the summer of 2013.
The first phase of the relocation project will begin in July of this year when floors four, five and six of the library will be closed to the public to allow specialist work to catalogue and pack more than two million items from the archive and heritage collection.
While computers and key information services from the upper floors will be moved down to areas still open, access to some of the specialist collections currently housed at floor four and above, including the archives and heritage service, will be restricted or in some cases suspended.
Only in April 2013, three months before the Library of Birmingham is expected to open, will the remaining public services be suspended, although the foyer, enquiry service and a managed study area for exam students will continue to operate from the Central Library site.
Brian Gambles, Assistant Director of Culture, says: “It would have been easy for us to close down throughout the works. Instead we have developed a plan which will enable the people of Birmingham to access the majority of services the library has to offer. They will then be able to enjoy all the long term benefits which will accompany the opening of the Library of Birmingham.”
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