Library of Birmingham: Official opening of £189m building

Malala Yousafzai: "A city without books in a city without a library is like a graveyard"

Related Stories

The £189m Library of Birmingham, which houses a collection of one million books, has opened.

The library has more than 200 public access computers, theatres, an exhibition gallery and music rooms.

It was officially opened by Malala Yousafzai, the teenager shot in the head in Pakistan by the Taliban for championing women's rights.

She was treated at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham and now lives in the city.

As part of the opening ceremony, Malala placed her copy of The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho in the library - the last book to go on the shelves. She has been given membership to access the archive.

Addressing the public, Malala said she was feeling very proud the building had been designed by a woman and the city was now her second home after her "beloved Pakistan".

'Beating heart'

She said books were weapons to beat terrorism and "the only way to global peace is reading knowledge and education".

"Books are precious," she explained.

Library of Birmingham

The Library of Birmingham
  • Its most valuable books are copies of Shakespeare's First Folio and John James Audubon's Birds of America - worth between £6m and £7m each
  • It can hold 3,000 people
  • It has nine floors - three of which are out of bounds to the public
  • It has a brown roof garden with wild flower meadow

"Some books travel with you back centuries, others take you into the future. Some take you to the core of your heart and others take you into the universe.

"There's no better way to explain the importance of books than to show even God chose the medium of a book to send his message to his people.

"This library will continue to enlighten future generations.

"It is written that a room without books is like a body without a soul. A city without a library is like a graveyard."

Speaking of how Birmingham has become a home to her, Malala said: "This city is the beating heart of England.

"Birmingham is very special for me, because it was here I found myself alive seven days after I was shot."

She said the "great people" of the city gave her moral support.

"This event proves this city loves me and I love it too."

'Digital and traditional'

The library has been built to replace the previous Central Library, built in the 1970s, and described by Prince Charles as looking like a place where books would be incinerated rather than read.

At the scene

People queuing outside the new Library of Birmingham

A crowd of visitors queued from 09:00 BST in Centenary Square, eager to get their first glimpse of Birmingham's new library.

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey and the city's lord mayor Mike Leddy joined Malala Yousafzai and library architect Francine Houben to officially open the building, while brass band SuperCritical Mass played inside.

For an hour after the opening, a queue snaked through the square and Birmingham's library was officially back in business.

Library director Brian Gambles, said they were given the go ahead by the council to proceed with the project in October 2007, roughly a year before the financial crisis began.

Most of the funding has come from borrowing, with a small amount from donations and the council raising funds by selling land.

A small group of protesters gathered at the opening ceremony, with some voicing concerns at the amount of money being borrowed and their fears for the impact on local libraries and others collecting signatures for a petition against rumoured plans for the library to be privatised. A banner saying "keep the library public" was briefly unfurled on one of the roof terraces.

Mr Gambles said the building had "echoes of the traditional round reading room with a modern twist".

"A fusion of the digital and the traditional is absolutely essential to the vision of the library we have," he said of the project, which he has led for seven years.

The building also contains the Shakespeare Memorial Room, home to a collection of 43,000 books, including copies of the Bard's First, Second, Third and Fourth Folio editions.

As members of the public queued to get inside the building, 70-year-old Ira John, from Tipton in the Black Country, said the old library "had had its day".

"I used to use the old library all of the time, for languages and transport information," she said.

"There is no comparison between this and the old library; there is so much here.

"The old building had had its day but this is a library for the future."

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC Birmingham & Black Country



12 °C 5 °C

BBC Local Live


    BBC Local Live will be back from 08:00 with more news, sport, travel and weather updates for Birmingham and the Black Country on Saturday.

    Call to back Birmingham Ladies 17:58:

    Birmingham City Ladies are appealing for fans to get behind them for their Champions League semi-final this weekend.

    Birmingham City Ladies on the pitch

    Birmingham take on the Swedish side Tyresö in the first leg of the tie at Solihull Moors tomorrow. The visitors will be favourites, but the Blues have consistently overcome the odds.

    Boy-racer crackdown 17:56: Express and Star

    CCTV and barriers are to be used by police in Moxley with the aim of cracking down on boy-racers in the area. Read the full story online now.

    Temperatures dropping 17:54:

    A sunny end to the day but with clear skies it will be a cold night with temperatures dropping.

    Winds will be light, causing frost in places - lows of 0C (32F).

    Teen raises money for charity 17:50:

    A teenager from Sutton Coldfield battling a rare illness has cut off her hair to raise money for charity which provides real-hair wigs to youngsters who have lost their own hair following cancer treatment. Read more on the Sutton Coldfield Observer website.

    Coming up 17:48: Abigail Uden Producer, BBC Midlands Today

    On BBC One at 18:50 with Joanne Malin, we have an interview with the Midlands heart surgeon who became a whistleblower and who has won his case for unfair dismissal.

    And we've a preview of the Birmingham ladies game and their progress towards Europe this weekend, plus an event in Handsworth which attracted a 1,000 people, and the football results.

    Easter messages 17:42: Express and Star

    Religious leaders from Lichfield and Worcester deliver their Easter messages.

    Read a full interview with the Bishop of Lichfield, Right Revd Jonathan Gledhill, and The Bishop of Worcester, The Right Revd John Inge on the Express and Star website.

    Drink-driving arrest 17:38:

    Central motorway policing group in the West Midlands tweets: Male arrested for drink driving after nearly colliding with a police vehicle now on route to the police station #fatal4 #dontdrinkanddrive

    Fans invade the pitch 17:30: Richard Wilford BBC WM Sport

    Wolves move to 96 points and it's been an extraordinary game against an outstanding Rotherham United.

    Pitch invasion at Wolves v Rotherham

    Fans invaded the pitch on three occasions during the course of the closing moments of the game and that will not sit well with the Football League.

    Hear more reaction on BBC WM's breakfast show tomorrow from 07:00 and BBC Sport.

    Full-time scores 17:19:
    Saturday weather snapshot 17:08: Rebecca Wood BBC Weather

    A little more cloud about tomorrow and winds a little stronger, but still a pleasant day. Highs of 14C.

    Forecast for Saturday afternoon
    Sex workers cautioned 16:40: Express and Star

    About 800 police cautions have been handed out to sex workers in the West Midlands over the past two years, the Express and Star reports.

    Pershore Road closed 16:26:

    Pershore Road in Edgbaston is closed and there's very slow traffic in both directions at the Selly Wick Road junction because of an overturned car. Read more on BBC Travel News.

    Watch: Operation 'damaging community' 16:13:

    Muslim community leaders say their children are being "made to feel like terrorists" because of the allegations over the so-called "Trojan horse plot".

    Parent speaks out about Muslim education in Birmingham

    Concern is growing the allegations are damaging community relations.

    Midlands Today's specialist correspondent Peter Wilson's spoke to students Sumbel Khan and Bushra Khanum, Nadeem Malik, the UK director of the Bahu Trust, former Golden Hillock School pupil Sabera Khatoon and Lubna Ashraf, a parent and teacher.

    Half-time scores 16:02:
    Speedway: Wolves result 15:57: Mike Taylor BBC WM Sport

    Elite League: Belle Vue 50 Wolverhampton 39

    Wolves were behind from heat 2 and never really in the hunt on a dusty surface at Kirkmanshulme Lane, suffering their first Elite League defeat of the season.

    Falls for Tai Woffinden in heat 6 and Piotr Pawlicki in heat 10 set them back, but Woffinden still totalled 9 points and Ricky Wells scored three heat wins, showing more encouraging form.

    Carlisle v Walsall 15:40:

    Walsall are again without 15-goal top scorer Craig Westcarr, who completes his three-match suspension.

    And on-loan Milan Lalkovic (hamstring) may be out for the second game running.

    Dean Smith's Saddlers are on the up again, having won twice in four games. But it was their 10-match winless run prior to that which effectively cost them a place in the League One play-offs. Read more on BBC Sport.

    'Gaffer on Rotherham' 15:25: via Facebook

    Wolverhampton Wanderers FC posts on Facebook: Gaffer on Rotherham, the fans and the future.....

    Wolves v Rotherham 15:11:

    BBC Sport reporter John Acres tweets: ‏At #wolves v Rotherham today for @bbc5live with @georgeyboy at the helm! Glorious here in the black country. #rufc


    Hear coverage on BBC WM 95.6 FM and updates on BBC5Live.

    Speedway: Birmingham Brummies 14:57: Mike Taylor BBC WM Sport

    The Birmingham Brummies hope for improved fortunes in their home match against King's Lynn at Perry Barr (7.30pm).

    The Brummies have won only one match so far - their last home fixture against Coventry. Tim Webster deputises for Paul Starke.

    Centre 'will stay open' 14:41: Express and Star

    Wildside Activity Centre, in Wolverhampton, says it will stay open and appeals for help to secure its future after the council cuts its funding, the Express and Star reports.

    Six questioned over burns attack 14:25:

    Six people continue to be questioned after a teenager was found with serious burns in Tividale, police say.

    Four men and two women were arrested after a 19-year-old woman was found with serious burns to her face and neck after it is believed high strength cleaning fluids were thrown over her after answering her front door.

    Investigation 'disruptive' 14:10:

    The head of a teaching union says controversy over an alleged conspiracy by Muslim-hardliners to infiltrate Birmingham schools could damage community relations.

    NASUWT'S Chris Keates

    The NASUWT'S Chris Keates, in Birmingham for the union's annual conference, says investigations into the so called "Trojan Horse" plot could threaten standards

    She says: "Our concern is how disruptive this is being for the children and the staff of the schools. To be in the public eye and have people speculating about what's taking place is not helpful."

    Easter Egg Trail 13:52:

    Looking for something to do with the kids this weekend? There's an Easter Egg Trail at Sutton Park National Nature Reserve all this weekend.

    Take part in free, self-led Easter activities in and around the Visitor Centre.

    Engagement ring dropped 13:40: Birmingham Mail

    The newspaper speaks to a 31-year-old man from Moseley who proposed to his girlfriend but dropped a £1,500 engagement ring in murky waters. Read the full story online.

    Government 'not doing enough' 13:25: BBC WM

    The leader of the NASUWT teaching union says the government's not doing enough to make sure the Trojan Horse inquiry is being conducted sensitively.

    The inquiry centres on an anonymous letter which claimed Muslim fundamentalists have been trying to take control of some schools in Birmingham.

    Chris Keates says the government's appointment of the anti-terror expert Peter Clarke is the last thing the investigation needs and not enough is being done to look after the teachers and pupils of the 25 schools involved.

    Coming up 13:10: Elizabeth Glinka Presenter, BBC Midlands Today

    It's Good Friday so Midlands today is on a bit earlier this lunchtime, in exactly four minutes to be precise. We'll be hearing from the West Midlands doctor who yesterday won his employment tribunal against the University of Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust

    And we'll also be looking ahead to the first leg of Birmingham City Ladies - Champions League Semi-Final in Solihull this weekend.

    Join us on BBC One for the latest.

    Light winds this afternoon 12:55: Rebecca Wood BBC Weather

    It's a stunning day out there. Get out and enjoy it, if you can. Light winds, sunny spells and temperatures in the mid teens, with highs of up to 14C across the West Midlands.

    Easter Day forecast

    Still some uncertainty over the lows on Sunday. But at least Easter Day will start as a dry, cloudy day for most.

    Wolves v Rotherham 12:40: Steve Hermon BBC WM Sport

    Wolves are set to play in front of their biggest home crowd for over 30 years later.

    Kenny Jackett's side, who secured promotion from League One last week, host Rotherham at Molineux where 30,000 fans are expected.

    Hear commentary with Richard Wilford on BBC WM 95.6 FM from 14:00.

    Your photos: Wolverhampton sunrise 12:26: Stephanie Barnard BBC Local Live

    I snapped this pic while on my way into work this morning in Wolverhampton.

    Sunrise over Wolverhampton

    It looks like the weather is going to be sunny and dry today so if you take a photo while out this bank holiday weekend please do email or tweet us.

    Speedway: Wolves 12:12: Mike Taylor BBC WM Sport

    Wolverhampton hope to extend their unbeaten start to the Elite League this lunchtime in a tricky away fixture at Belle Vue.

    Wolves have won their first three matches. Tom Perry rides for them as a guest, in place of Joe Jacobs.

    'Information for Blues' 12:09: via Facebook

    Birmingham City FC posts on Facebook: If you're heading to Nottingham Forest tomorrow make sure you read the following information:

    'Significant structural problems' 11:50: BBC WM

    There are claims the Aston Expressway in Birmingham is at risk of collapsing.

    The Tame Valley viaduct carries about 80,000 vehicles a day, and a report for the Local Enterprise Partnership says there are significant structural problems with the road.

    It warns drivers could face lane or weight restrictions in future - or it might even need to be closed altogether.

    Why is today called Good Friday? 11:35:

    It is the day when Christians commemorate Jesus Christ's crucifixion. So why is it called Good Friday? BBC Magazine Monitor has the answer here.

    Reverend Alistair Prince walks through Croxteth Country park, Liverpool
    Benefits Street sequel? 11:20:

    It's claimed the production company behind the controversial Channel 4 programme Benefits Street is struggling to find people willing to take part in the second series, reports BBC WM.

    Smoggy from Benefits Street

    The show followed the lives of people in Winson Green's James Turner Street and five million people watched it.

    'Benefit' from time away 10:59:

    The England Cricket Board confirms Jonathan Trott will take a break from the sport with immediate effect after experiencing "a repeat of stress-related symptoms" during a match earlier this week.

    ECB chief medical officer Dr Nick Peirce says he's been ruled out "of all cricket this winter from late November onwards".

    He adds: "Despite Jonathan wanting to play for Warwickshire from the start of the season having spent time with him yesterday it is clear that he will benefit from a further period away from the game. He will continue with the comprehensive support programme the ECB has put in place to assist his rehabilitation."

    Signalling problems 10:45:

    London Midland tweets: There are signalling problems between #Walsall and #RugeleyTV at the moment. Trains running through these stations may be delayed.

    Teacher compensation 10:29:

    Hundreds of thousands of pounds was paid out to teachers across the West Midlands in compensation last year, BBC WM reports.

    Classroom generic

    Figures released by the NASUWT teaching union show that one 33-year-old teacher in our region was awarded £300k after she was badly injured breaking up a fight between two pupils.

    Women released on bail 10:15:

    Four women have been released on bail after being held over an alleged plot involving bogus resignation letters at a primary school.

    The investigation is centred on Adderley Primary School in Saltley.

    St George's Day 09:59:

    Dudley Council has confirmed its St George's Day celebration line-up.

    St George killing a dragon

    Performers are set to include the Sedgley Morris Men, Brierley Hill Musical Theatre, Black Country Gaz and the Kingswinford Air Training Corps band. There will also be the Great Brierley Hill Bake-Off competition!

    £200m Aston Villa takeover? 09:45:

    The Telegraph reports that Aston Villa could be set for a £200m takeover by American billionaires if the club stays in the Premier League.

    As it happened
    • News, sport, travel, weather for Fri 18 April
    • More updates from 08:00 on Saturday
    • Listen to BBC WM
    'Rather teach my son at home' 09:30: BBC WM

    A single mother from Birmingham says she'd rather teach her son at home than send him to the school being offered by the council.

    Karandip Pahal lives in Edgbaston with 4-year-old. All three of her choices for primary schools have been turned down and instead her son Rajan has been offered a place at a school in Balsall Heath.

    Wolves v Rotherham 09:17:

    Promoted Wolves are expected to be unchanged at Molineux as they look to cement their hold on the League One title against Rotherham United.

    After clinching promotion at Crewe last weekend, if Wolves win and Brentford lose, they would be champions barring a series of mathematical improbabilities.

    You can hear full coverage on BBC WM 95.6 FM from 14:00.

    Trott off with stress 09:03:

    Warwickshire and England batsman Jonathan Trott is to take a second break from cricket because of stress.

    Jonathan Trott

    He returned to playing for his county side earlier this month after being forced to leave England's Ashes Tour in November.

    The 32-year-old, who played for Warwickshire against Sussex this week, is contracted to the England and Wales Cricket Board. A statement on his future is expected later today.

    116mph on M6 toll 08:44:

    The central motorway police group in the West Midlands tweets: The highest speed dealt with since 0700 is 116mph on the M6 Toll. This will likely result in disqualification and a hefty fine. Speed kills!

    Fine and dry 08:27:

    A cold, perhaps frosty start, then a dry and fine day with plenty of strong sunshine.

    Winds will be light and variable and it will feel warm. Highs of 14C (57F).

    Risk of collapse? 08:12: James Bovill Journalist, BBC WM

    Is Spaghetti Junction at risk of collapse? The Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership says more cash is needed to keep it safe.

    Spaghetti Junction

    Hear more on BBC WM's breakfast show shortly.

    Good morning! 08:00: Stephanie Barnard BBC Local Live

    I'll be bringing you the very latest news, sport, travel and weather updates for Birmingham and the Black Country today.

    We hope you have a great bank holiday weekend, whatever you've got planned. Do share your photos if you take any while out on email, Twitter and Facebook.



  • Atletico's Diego Godin celebrates his goal with teammate David VillaWeek in pictures

    Selection of the best news photographs from around the world

  • Susanne du ToitTop 10 Tips

    Portrait painter Susanne du Toit on being an artist

  • StampsPost Independence

    Will stamps get cheaper if Scots go it alone?

  • Rhea10 things

    Rhea birds can be extremely dangerous, plus other factlets

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • ITChild's play

    It's never been easier for small businesses to get their message out to the world


  • Joe Ierardi playing a pianoClick Watch

    Meet the man trying to create the perfect digital piano - but is it as good as the real thing?

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.