Wednesday, 19 March 2014

My first visit to the new Library of Birmingham

In the middle of January I had the opportunity to visit the new Library of Birmingham. The library was opened last September and stands next to the Repertory Theatre in Centenary Square on Broad Street. From a distance the library resembles bands of blue and gold mesh but as you get closer you can see the intricate framework of large interlocking black steel circles intertwined with much smaller white steel circles. This framework covers a building that is constructed of three different sized rectangular boxes, one on top of the other. The bottom and the largest and the top and smallest of the rectangles appear to be blue in colour. In fact it is the light reflecting on the glass windows beneath the framework that gives it the blue effect. The rectangle sandwiched in-between is gold in colour and perched on the roof is a large shiny gold drum. The library boasts two outdoor terraces and their Shakespeare Memorial Room has been moved from the old library and is now housed inside the gold drum. Once inside I stood at the bottom of an extremely large pair of escalators that rose from the foyer to the first floor high above me. As the archives and heritage centre was on the fourth floor I opted to use the lift.  I stepped out of the lift, turned right and entered a white room with several low white cabinets. A number of maps were place carefully on each cabinet. I continued along a corridor into an open plan area. The far walls of the room were the outside glass windows of the building that were covered by the large circles of metal. Towards the centre of this area there was a circular desk where two members of staff were perched on high stools. As I walked towards them I passed tall white unlabelled cabinets and large tables cluttered with the belongings of students and researchers. As I stood and waited to be served I looked around. A glass partition divided the room in two. In front of the partition there was a row of neatly stacked bookshelves. In front of the bookshelves there were about twenty computers. Against the two other walls were strange white contraptions with flashing lights. They resembled sideways shelves but they were so close together I couldn’t see what was on each shelf. I almost felt like I was in a very clinical environment that was not as inviting as the old library.

No comments: