Library of Birmingham in £2m language school conversion

Library of Birmingham in £2m language school conversion

The Library of Birmingham is to undergo a £2.1m conversion which will see the opening of a language school, The Birmingham Post has reported.

Brasshouse Language Centre will relocate from Sheepcote Street to the Library of Birmingham in a move that will see the £188m library's opening hours extended following a dramatic cut in hours from 73 to 40 earlier this year. The first floor conference rooms and study areas will be transformed into 24 classrooms for the language school.

Birmingham city council will borrow the £2.1m needed for the move and repay the debt when the existing Brasshouse site near Brindleyplace is sold.

Labour cabinet member for culture Penny Holbrook said that the conference facilities were not well used and study areas would be found elsewhere in the building. 

She said: “There are two important things here. We have a world-class language service moving into a world class building. This allows us to keep the library open longer than it has been. The cost of £2.1 million is expensive but it is an expensive and beautiful building and we want this done properly.

"This move is a fantastic opportunity for the library and for the Brasshouse, whose users will benefit from a more modern environment with an even greater range of resources."

Work will begin early next year and it is hoped the conversion will be complete and the Brasshouse open from September 2016.

The move will mean the library will be open to the public from 9am to 9pm weekdays, including an express book borrowing service. This follows £105 million of cuts passed by Birmingham City Council earlier this year which included a budget reduction for the Library of Birmingham which saw 100 jobs at risk.

Laura Swaffield, chair of the Library Campaign, has blamed the council’s library problems on the demands of Library of Birmingham which have “gutted the small local libraries that people need the most.”

She told The Bookseller: "This is desperate. It just goes to show that the whole project was misconceived."