October 2015 When we were the last time in Birmingham a few years ago we saw the first signs of a new public library at Centenary Square as part of the city’s redevelopment. We were impressed with the renderings and the building site. We were looking forward to see it completed. The architect was Francine Houben of Mecanoo architecten, based in Delft, the Netherlands. The building looks like a stack of parcels or maybe a ship with small chimney and beautiful flower decorations in black and gold. || LIBRARY OF BIRMINGHAM || “REWRITING THE BOOK” || AS SEEN FROM THE HYATT REGENCY HOTEL || BIRMINGHAM || ENGLAND || UK || DURING OUR STAY IN OCTOBER 2015 || “MUST VISIT” || by UggBoy UggGirl, on Flickr When we visited the Library of Birmingham in October 2015 we were impressed and thought it was a great addition to the city and the awards it has won are well deserved. The old library in Paradise Forum has closed and the Brutalism structure will be torn down. The new library cost 188.8 Million GBP (ca. 244 Million Euro or ca. 267 Million USD) and took over three years to be built. It is the 10th most popular visitor attraction in the UK, the largest public library in the UK, the largest cultural space in Europe and the largest regional library in Europe. The air-conditioning uses an aquifer ground source system, using and reusing cold groundwater. It makes the library more environmentally friendly due to reduced carbon dioxide emissions. It is also connected to the REP, a theatre, and shares some facilities between them. We enjoyed the high ceilings, modern interior and exterior, the light filled space, the Discovery Terrace on the 3rd floor and the Secret Garden on the 7th floor and the views from the 9th floor Skyline viewpoint over the city are wonderful and memorable. The gardens on the 3rd and 7th floor invited to explore, relax, take a seat on one of the benches, read a book and enjoy the views over the city. Other highlights for us were the map collection and the Shakespeare Memorial Room on the 9th floor. The Shakespeare Memorial Room was originally created for the first Central Library in 1882 by John Henry Chamberlain. It was not on display for a long time, but the wait was worth it. The design is intricate and Elizabethan style with carvings by Mr. Barfield, marquetry and metalwork, which includes birds and flowers. The ceiling is also remarkable. We learned a lot of new things, for example that it’s not 100 % certain, that the paintings and busts we have of William Shakespeare might not be him, but a friend of his. It holds over 43.000 books and other printed material. One rare item is for example a copy of the First Folio from the early 17th century. It makes it one of the most important collections in the world and the most important in the UK. After exploring the library we went to the gift shop and had a quick look at the café. When we return to Birmingham we will visit again to soak up the atmosphere and views. Would we recommend this attraction to a friend? YES! Would we want to visit again this attraction in our future? YES!