The Library of Birmingham is achieving "amazing things" following the announcement of two major partnership deals, the city’s culture chief has claimed.
Labour council cabinet member for skills, learning and culture Coun Penny Holbrook said that partnerships like those signed with Google, the British Library and Brasshouse Language Centre recently showed there was life for public services after brutal cuts.
She says these show that partnership working is not a meaningless line trotted out by politicians.
“When done properly, it is not just words - we can actually achieve amazing things alongside partners. It is possible with imagination and passion to maintain public library services with new models of working," she said.
“I am passionate that library services should remain public but I also know people use libraries in different ways today than historically.
"Access to and the love of books will always be important but we have to also recognise, if we want to keep library services public, we have to think about how we use the buildings they occupy and how people use those buildings today."
And she defended the "controversial and difficult" decision earlier this year to slash the opening hours and staff by almost half, saying that, with the council losing £850 million from its annual budget since 2010, "the premise that things should stay the same is never going to stack up".
Writing on the council website, she said: “It is an extraordinary, iconic building and service that’s helped put Birmingham back on the map. No-one ever wanted to do anything that undermined that, least of all the politicians whose job is to champion our city.
"Now, with the announcement that we’ll be opening the doors of the library from 9am until 9pm on weekdays, we’re back in a much more positive place."
She argued the pace of cuts to the council’s government grant meant they could not avoid making the cuts earlier this year or keep on spending at a rate of more than £2 million per month awaiting the deals.
“I knew people would be upset and angry, as I was, by the cuts to the library’s opening hours but we couldn’t just sit back and hope that the storm of justified public anger would pass."