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Library of Birmingham gets new tenant and will extend opening hours

Library of Birmingham gets new tenant and will extend opening hours

🕔27.Jul 2015

The cash-strapped Library of Birmingham is celebrating some good news after it was confirmed the Brasshouse language service is to relocate to the £189 million Centenary Square building.

Rental income from the move will allow the city council to implement a limited extension of opening hours at the LoB, which were severely curtailed following a £1.3 million cut to the building’s budget.

It’s the second positive development at the library. Technology giant Google announced last week that it was launching a new venture at the LoB offering digital training for small and medium sized businesses.

Brasshouse, which claims to be the largest adult education centre in the UK offering courses in over 30 languages, currently operates from a building in Sheepcote Street, near Brindleyplace.

Councillor Penny Holbrook, cabinet member for skills, learning and culture, said part of the library would be able to open for an additional 26 hours, operating from 9am to 9pm on weekdays.

However, the core library service will continue to open for only 40 hours a week. The extended hours will involve self-service for book borrowing from a limited stock, limited advisory support and access to study space.

Cllr Holbrook said:

I have been determined to find the right solutions for both the language service and the Library of Birmingham in these challenging times, and this offers a solution that benefits both important services.

Under the new name of Brasshouse @ Library of Birmingham, the language service will connect even more learners with modern resources and allow us to keep the library open as a public space for longer hours during the week. As well as the benefits for students of bringing the language service to the library, savings in operational costs will make it possible to open the building to the public for longer.

We have listened to feedback from residents and library campaigners and recognise that people want to use the library for longer and for a variety of uses.  People don’t just want to use the library for borrowing books and reference purposes but want to use it as a study space, to work and research, to access the internet, to visit as tourists and to simply hang out and relax.

We always said we would look at all options available to us when it came to keeping the library open for as many hours as possible, though of course these things do take time to arrange and we had to ensure we get it right.

We will be engaging with our service users and affected staff and a full business case will be developed, but I know this is a fantastic opportunity for both the Brasshouse and the Library of Birmingham.

This is a great opportunity for adult teaching and learning to be supported in a hugely improved environment as well as making the service more visible, and so increasing enrolment.

The council attracted severe criticism in April when it pushed through a £1.3 million cut to the library’s annual budget, reducing opening hours from 73 hours to 40 hours a week. More than 90 jobs were also lost.

The library does not open until 11am on weekdays and Saturdays and is closed on Sundays.

The building closes at 7pm on Mondays and Tuesdays and at 5pm Wednesday to Saturday.

Queues of people waiting to get into the library in the mornings are a common sight.

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