Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Libraries gave us power

It's several years since I was temping in the office of Birmingham City Council's Strategic Director of Development and the proposals for a new library were first being discussed, so it was good to see that yesterday the completed building - the largest library in Europe - was finally officially opened. Whether you like it or not, it's a striking addition to the city's architecture and, with the Rep, adds cultural significance and cachet to the city centre end of Broad Street (there's not much of that to be found in Walkabout or Flares...).

The library was opened by Malala Yousafzai, the teenage Pakistani activist shot by the Taliban on her way home from school, who now calls Birmingham home. She delivered a stirring address, declaring that education and books were weapons in the fight against terrorism and that "This library will continue to enlighten future generations". A shame, then, that she'd just claimed: "There's no better way to explain the importance of books than to show even God chose the medium of a book to send his message to his people." When talking about enlightening books, the Bible doesn't exactly spring to mind...

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