Critics who claim Birmingham’s new civic library will be too small are "distorting" the truth, the city’s director of regeneration has said.
Urging people to get behind the £193 million Centenary Square scheme, Clive Dutton said any city in the world would be proud to have such a project in the pipeline.
He was replying to comments from members of a library review group who have questioned an allocation of only 600 square metres of exhibition space in the new building, compared with 1,200 sq ms when the project was first proposed six years ago.
Mr Dutton said the new library, with a total floor space of 31,000 sq ms, would be the largest of its kind in Europe and 10 per cent bigger than the existing Central Library. It was misleading to talk about the project as being modest or mean, he added.
While dedicated exhibition space would be limited to 600 sq ms, the whole of the non-storage parts of the building would be available for one-off displays, he said.
Mr Dutton added: "It will be the biggest dedicated exhibition and gallery space in any non-national public library in the world. Libraries tend not to have dedicated exhibition areas, but this one will.
"Some of the libraries I have seen around the world have exhibitions taking place in the most imaginative ways and not just in dedicated rooms. It’s about how you use and create the whole building."
He urged critics to stop looking backwards, adding: "Let’s get behind what is going to be a quite extraordinary once in a lifetime facility for the city of Birmingham. Any city in the world would be green with envy to have such a thing on the drawing board."
Brian Gambles, assistant director of culture at the city council, said the business case for the new library would not support 1,200 sq ms of dedicated exhibition space. He could not explain why such a figure was put forward in the first place.
"I know of no other public library in the world that has anything approaching that space," he added.