The new Library of Birmingham was officially opened on 3 September 2013 with opening speeches given by Councillor Ian Ward, activist Malala Yousafzai, Minister for Culture, Ed Vaisey and more.
I couldn’t attend the opening but I recently visited the new Library of Birmingham with my mum and sister to have a quick look around.
From the outside it is quite a striking building in its design. A gleaming golden metal and shiny glass structure; the library definitely attracts you to explore further.
There is level access at the entrance and automatic doors with push sensor. When I entered the library I was slightly taken back by how large the building is and a bit unsure of where to start on exploring the place!
We saw there was a map directing what’s on each floor. My sister needed a book from the Education section and we spotted a place called the Secret Garden. So we decided to get the book (floor 4 I think it was) and then to the top to the Secret Garden.
We headed to the lifts and unfortunately this is where things became disappointing. Every time the doors opened the lifts were full; full of people who don’t need them! We waited for 20 minutes before a lift with enough space for me was available, and we finally got to the floor we wanted. The next time we waited for 15 minutes and the third time we waited 10 minutes before complaining to staff who then took us in the emergency lift to the Secret Garden.
Not only are they slow but I also think the lifts are a bit small. I’m unsure as to why people are clogging the lifts when there are some really funky looking escalators with electric blue lighting up to each floor. Staff told us they have this complaint a lot. They are hoping it will get better as the novelty of new library wears off!
Aside from the issue with the lifts, the library is a really interesting place to explore and good for facilities. There are rows of Harry-Potter-style curving bookcases central on each floor with isles leading outwards. There is also a circular glass lift that goes to The Shakespeare Memorial Room situated on top of the Library of Birmingham. There is a café, and Secret Garden is a nice outdoor space with a great view of the city.
In terms of accessibility facilities I found level access entry to front and back of building and doors open on a push button. There are lower counters provided at Information Points and also at computers. It was good to see that as well as the usual disabled toilets; one of them is a Changing Places room, which is on the lower ground floor. There are also fire fighting evacuation lifts, and car parking for blue badge holders.
The Library’s design team worked with the Birmingham Access Committee throughout the design process, which I think has definitely been a successful process and has enhanced the accessibility.
Lots more info at www.libraryofbirmingham.com/
Jagdeep Kaur Sehmbi, West Midlands Trailblazers Ambassador