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Library of Birmingham opening to be extended by 26 hours a week

Library of Birmingham opening to be extended by 26 hours a week

🕔13.Oct 2015

A move to open the Library of Birmingham for an extra 26 hours a week will be approved next week.

The city council cabinet is to sign off plans to relocate the Brasshouse Language School to the first floor of the library, which will generate rental income enabling the £187 million building in Centenary Square to offset some of the budget cuts imposed earlier this year.

Supporters of the library lodged angry protests when the council decided to slash the LoB budget by £1.3 million, reducing opening times from 73 to 40 hours a week and leading to the loss of more than 90 jobs.

It’s proposed that the library will offer an ‘express’ self-service for book borrowing on its ground and lower ground floor from 9am to 9pm from Monday to Friday, extending the current opening hours from early 2016.

The Brasshouse Language Centre, in Sheepcote Street, will remain operational until the end of August 2016 before the new centre opens in the library in September 2016.

Work to reconfigure the first floor of the library will begin in February next year and is due to be completed by the end of July. The library will remain open throughout although there will be no public access to the first floor during this time.

Councillor Penny Holbrook, cabinet member for skills, learning and culture, said:

As has been widely publicised, we are facing a number of challenges and have had to make some very difficult decisions, one of which has been reducing the Library of Birmingham’s opening hours.

However, I have always been determined to find a suitable way forward, both for the library and the Brasshouse Language School, so I am delighted that we have moved forward with plans to relocate the language school to the library which, in turn, will allow us to keep the library open as a public space for longer hours during the week.

We have listened to feedback from residents and library users and recognise that people want to use the library for longer and for a variety of uses. This move is a fantastic opportunity for the library and for the Brasshouse, whose users will benefit from a more modern environment with an even greater range of resources.

I am passionate that library services should remain public, but I also know people use libraries in different ways today than historically.  Access to and the love of books will always be important, but we have to also recognise if we want to keep library services public, we have to think about how we use the buildings they occupy and how people use those buildings today.

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