£189m Library of B'ham opens

The £189m new Library of Birmingham has opened to the public for the first time. It took 800 people to build and boasts around a million books, a new amphitheatre and two roof gardens.

Live updates


  1. National

Malala Yousafzai opens Europe's largest public library

Education campaigner Malala Yousafzai has officially opened the new Library of Birmingham.

The Pakistani teenager, who was shot in the head by the Taliban for campaigning girl's education in October 2012, said the library would "enlighten the future generations".

Built at a cost of £188 million, it is Europe's largest public library and one million physical books will be available to visitors.

Read in the sunshine in the library's roof gardens

Two roof gardens featuring flower beds, benches and views across Birmingham will be open to visitors to the library.

Around 10,000 flowers and shrubs have been planted around the library terraces, while water features have also been installed.

One of the roof gardens at the new Library of Birmingham Credit: Christian Richters
Paths through the shrubbery and water features have been installed Credit: Christian Richters
Visitors can read on one of the benches while enjoying views across Birmingham Credit: Christian Richters


'Selfie' exhibition to open at new library

An exhibition of self-portraits taken by people across Birmingham will go on show at the new city library at the weekend.

Library bosses launched the project last year with the aim of creating a self-portrait "family album" of Birmingham's residents.

More than 1,000 contributions will be shown in the new building's digital gallery between Friday and Sunday.

Visitors will also be able to take their own self-portraits while visiting the library.

Shelves filled with everything from Hobbits to alchemy

In April, J.R.R. Tolkien's beloved children's classic The Hobbit became the first book to find its home at the new Library of Birmingham.

Just weeks later, the final book - Paulo Coelbo's The Alchemist - joined it on the shelves to complete the library's impressive collection.

Council leader Sir Albert Bore placed The Hobbit on the shelves of the Library in April Credit: Four Colman Getty

A total of 66,000 crates of books were hauled between the old Central Library and the new building, with workers loading 1,100 crates every day for three months.

Tea, bacon and concrete - how the Library was built

With 800 people in the core workforce constructing the new Birmingham Library, more than just bricks and mortar went into the building work.

In total:

  • Around 900,000 cups of tea were served in the on-site canteen
  • An estimated 100,000 breakfasts were dished up to hungry workers
  • It took a total of 1.6 million working hours to build
  • 226 workers were locals who had been unemployed
  • 82 apprentices were also hired and trained with the team

As for the building itself, it is made up of:

  • 21,000m3 of concrete - enough to fill more than eight Olympic swimming pools
  • 45,000m2 of paint - enough to cover more than six football pitches
  • 3,000 tonnes of steel - the weight of approximately 35,750 men
  • 5,000m2 of glass
Load more updates Back to top