The new £187 million Library of Birmingham is set to become a charitable trust in a bid to cut costs.
An independent board will be set up to oversee the library, currently under construction in Centenary Square, and charitable status will ensure it receives maximum rate relief cutting running costs.
The move was being announced by city council leader Mike Whitby at the Conservative Party Conference at the ICC, after he took Prime Minister David Cameron on a tour of the library building site.
It has proved a controversial project with campaigners battling for the existing Central Library to be preserved, others criticising the modern design and some worried that the continuing cost of financing the building will cripple future library budgets.
Coun Whitby (Con Harborne) said: “The Library of Birmingham Trust which will be a channel for encouraging communication between the communities served by the library.”
He said the trust will develop links with universities, businesses and cultural groups and encourage investment in facilities and services through philanthropy, commercial services and social enterprises.
“Birmingham is proud to be leading the way in the provision of library services through the trust, enabling greater financial resources than would be available through council funding alone,” he added.
The city’s opposition Labour group welcomed the trust as good financial sense, but is concerned that this will lead to all library and leisure services in Birmingham being put into it.
Deputy Labour leader Ian Ward (Shard End) said: “This is sensible as they can get huge rate rebates as a charity.
“But this could be the forerunner to set up trusts for all council leisure services which we would have concerns about.”
The library is due to be completed in 2013 after which the Central Library site will be sold for demolition and commercial redevelopment.