The real image: not floodlit or airbrushed

The real image: not floodlit or airbrushed

Some may find the new library more eye-catching when artificially illuminated and the actual building obscured, compared with the Madin building which Birmingham City Council had allowed to run down and fall into disrepair. That is a matter of opinion, but here is a summary of some disturbing facts presented by Steve Beauchampé in the Birmingham Press:

Costs incurred and looming

  • The initial cost of building the Library of Birmingham is £188.6m, at a time when Birmingham City Council is in the midst of substantial and increasing cutbacks, not least to leisure centres and its services for the elderly and infirm.
  • Interest charges applied to the sum borrowed over a 40-year period are expected to reach up to £590m (Paul Dale, The Birmingham Post,).

Alternatives rejected

The original proposal to build a new library at Eastside was costed at £160m and would have provided a much larger facility than the version that has been built.

Refurbishment of the Madin library, was costed at under £40m and would have provided more floor space than has ultimately been delivered.

Hard facts about the new service offered

  • An unknown quantity of books and other documents have been disposed of, as storage space at the new facility is smaller than was initially envisaged and there is no room to expand.
  • A considerable number of experienced specialist staff have left, so some of the renamed departments and sections – Knowledge, Discovery, Book Browse, along with Brainbox and Soundbox in the Business Department – will not be staffed by librarians with a specialist and knowledge of particular subjects.
  • £3m per annum must be generated to meet its operational costs. So charges for many previously free services can be expected and other charges increased.

Beauchampé ends with the chilling forecast that the day will soon come when the likes of Capita and G4S tender to manage the Library of Birmingham, hoping to make yet more ‘tidy profit’ from the city.

Read the whole article here: