Brian Gambles, director of the Library of Birmingham, has responded to claims that staff at the city’s flagship facility are unable to reach certain archive material because of a lack of specialist equipment, as reported in the Birmingham Post:
''We fully understand how valuable this service is to researchers and are as concerned as they are to restart the service.
''However, to put this in context, we have been operating the service for items from the Archive, Heritage and Photography collections – comprising millions of items – since September.
''It is the low use book items where we have this problem. These are items kept in high storage because they are requested only infrequently.
''Some of the shelving is as high as 4.9 metres and we rightly take very seriously the need for staff to access these materials safely.
''This is why we need the right specialist equipment, and must train staff in its use, before we can offer this service.
'' The Library has over 400,000 volumes of the most popular resources available on the public floors, more than double the number on show at Central Library.
''The Library has many purposes from encouraging a love of books and reading and increasing literacy to supporting entrepreneurship, inspiring creativity and being a vibrant hub for community life.
''It is highly fit for all these purposes and the visitor numbers speak for themselves. We have welcomed more than 1.7 million visitors to the Library of Birmingham since opening. It is a relatively very small number of people who ask for items from the stack storage.
''We stated on our website back in the autumn that we were hoping to restart this service this spring and that is what we are still aiming to do.''