The campaign to save the Library of Birmingham received a welcome boost this week when it was announced that there would be an extension of its opening hours.
The West Midlands Writers’ Guild has campaigned against the £1.3 million cuts, 90 job losses and reduction of opening hours from 73-40 a week, since they were announced by Birmingham City Council at the end of 2014, just a year after the £188-million Library opened.
The new opening hours represent a limited extension from 40 to 72 hours. Core services will operate for 40 hours, and the extra 32 hours will see borrowers using self service to borrow books and have limited access to advisory support and study space. The changes have come about following a partnership with Brasshouse language service and Google, which was also announced recently.
William Gallagher, West Midlands Writers’ Guild rep, said: “We are celebrating in Birmingham and we want to both congratulate and thank the Council for pulling this off. We’re of course very conscious that this does not return the archivist staff we’ve lost. Plus we have the issue that all our libraries face being unable to buy new books. Yet this is a strong move in the best direction and even as we play our part in continuing to fight for the full restoration of the Library, we’re proud that the efforts of ourselves, the Council and Friends of the Library have succeeded in this.”
Photo: William Gallagher