Prince Charles has been suggested as a suitable VIP to cut the ribbon on the new Library of Birmingham in two years time.
It is claimed the Prince, who famously described the existing Central Library as “looking more like a place for burning books, than keeping them”, would make an ideal guest when the new Centenary Square Library opens in June 2013.
His name was raised as the council’s leisure and culture watchdog committee quizzed the city’s chief librarian Brian Gambles on progress on the £188 million project.
Committee member David Pears (Con Sutton Trinity) asked: “Have we invited Prince Charles to open it in 2013?”
Mr Gambles replied: “We haven’t booked him yet. Someone will have to take a view on who the right person will be nearer the time.”
The committee, meeting on the Library construction site, praised the project for being on time and already under budget, having been initially costed at £193 million.
Mr Gambles said cost had already been cut due a competitive tender from builder Carillion and that he expected there to be more savings before the building is complete.
He said: “We are on programme and below budget on the biggest cultural development project in Europe. I think as a city we can be proud of that, because not every major public sector project is on budget.”
The building exterior is expected to be completed by the end of 2011, when work will begin on fitting out the interior spaces, before books, archives and the library’s collection of historic treasures is shipped across from the Central Library.
The cross-party committee was also keen on the prospects of raising income, through cafes, shops and research services.
Mr Gambles said that there are likely to be two cafes or restaurants, one on the ground floor fronting Centenary Square and another on the balcony overlooking the Square, and added that the Birmingham Rep has a restaurant.
He added: “We also want to sell merchandise. We are in early discussions with retailers, who will be considered if they are willing to sell our merchandise and do compliment the library and city’s aims.”