Birmingham library users stage sit-ins

Birmingham library users stage sit-ins

Library users have been staging sit-ins at the Library of Birmingham as it switches to shorter opening hours following council cuts.

Police were called in one instance to help disperse the protestors who refused to leave the building on Friday evening (15th May). Around 30 students refused to leave at the library's new designated closing time of 5pm, demanding to speak to council management, according to a report in the Birmingham Mail. After police were called, two officers were able to negotiate with the group, who left at 6.30pm. A rally was then held outside.

Meanwhile, on Saturday morning (16th May), more than 400 people queued through Birmingham's Centenary Square waiting for the library to open at 11am, having previously opened on Saturdays at 8am. One student who waited in the line told the Birmingham Mail that the atmosphere was "tense".

The Library of Birmingham, which opened to great acclaim in 2013, has seen its opening hours slashed from 73 hours a week to just 40, with the building now closed all day on Sundays and every evening. 

A council spokesperson reaffirmed to the Mail that the opening hours cuts were the result of wider cost-saving measures being made across the council. “As has been widely publicised, the council has to make savings in excess of £100m in 2015/16. All areas of council business were reviewed and reducing the opening hours for the Library of Birmingham is one of the measures contributing to that overall saving.”