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British Library could offer lifeline to Library of Birmingham

A partnership with the British Library could see Birmingham’s new £188 million library become its regional centre

The British Library could offer the landmark Library of Birmingham a lifeline and protect it from cuts.

A partnership deal could see Birmingham’s under-threat £188 million library become a regional centre for the London based British Library

Birmingham City Council is in talks with the national institution, as well as other potential backers, to offset a string of proposed cuts to services and staff.

The Labour run council has come under fire over proposals to cut the opening hours from 73 per week to 40, and axe 100 of the 188 staff.

The council’s proposals would save £1.5 million from its spiralling £10 million a year costs.

Arts and culture groups have said such cuts so soon after the Library opened would be a huge embarrassment for the city.

The British Library proposal has been championed by the West Midland Lord-Lieutenant Paul Sabapathy CBE.

Council cabinet member for culture Penny Holbrook said: “When we announced the proposed cuts I said we were doing this with a heavy heart.

“But as with any possible cut, we will leave no stone unturned to find alternative ways forward. We will do whatever it takes to save services if possible.” She describes the British Library proposal as one which could ensure Birmingham continues to have a ‘flagship library service the city can be proud of’.

“The Library of Birmingham already has a glowing reputation. Being linked to the British Library would add further weight to this on the international stage.”

But she warned that these are talks, nothing has been agreed, and if they prove unsuccessful the cuts will go ahead.

Speaking at the council meeting the cabinet member also denied that the library cuts were ‘cavalier’.

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