The city's Central Library closes its doors for good this weekend to help preparations for the opening of the new Library of Birmingham.
With just over two months to go until the opening of the £188 million library on Tuesday, September 3, the Chamberlain Square building will close permanently from 5pm on June 29.
From then until August 24 there will be a Tourist Information office, as well as a ‘membership point’ for the new library. The REP’s Box Office will remain open in the Central Library foyer until July 20.
From July 22, there will be a counter service Box Office at the REP’s Stage Door in Cambridge Street.
Birmingham Central Library opened in January 1974. The building was designed by Birmingham architect John Madin in ‘Brutalist’ style and is Europe’s largest non-national library.
The structure was once criticised by Prince Charles as “looking more like a place for burning books, than keeping them”. In recent years campaigners failed to acquire listing status to protect it from demolition.
In a recent Birmingham Post article, Matthew Goer of Associated Architects, described the Central Library as one of the buildings that changed the face of Birmingham.
“Madin’s Central Library was conceived as the centrepiece of what would become an ambitious civic centre – including an exhibition space, lecture halls, drama centre and athletics institute, as well as a major transport hub. Due primarily to funding cuts, this vision was never fully realised,” he said.
“Original proposals to clad the building in either Portland Stone or Travertine marble, which would have softened the library’s appearance and aligned it with other civic buildings in the area, were passed over due to funding issues, in favour of pre-cast concrete panels.”
The new Library of Birmingham in Centenary Square will feature world-class collections including Shakespeare, early & fine printing, the Parker Collection of children’s books and games, and the Railway Collection. The library will also feature the largest public cultural space in Europe.
Opening hours at Birmingham’s libraries which are closest to the city centre have been extended for the closure period. Spring Hill Library is open for an extra day on Wednesdays and stays open during lunchtimes on the days it is open; Erdington Library is open for an extra evening during the week, remaining open until 7pm on Tuesdays; and Ward End Library opens early on Mondays, opening its doors at 9am on Mondays instead of 11am.
Brian Gambles, project director for the Library of Birmingham, said: “We recognise that the final closure of Birmingham Central Library will cause some inconvenience to customers over the summer months.
''We have done all we can to minimise disruption and to keep the library open as long as possible. Community libraries are open as normal, with extended hours at those closest to the city centre, throughout the summer.”