Thursday, April 23, 2015

Open access or a closed book?

Given that it's World Book Day, it seems fitting to highlight the plight of the Library of Birmingham. Less that two years after it opened, the opening hours have been almost halved to 40 hours a week and around half of the staff are likely to be made redundant.

The city council claims that the cuts have been forced upon them by a reduction in funding from central government as part of the austerity measures. While they're no doubt in a very difficult position, I can only agree with the Telegraph's Bernadette McNulty that it seems a false economy to severely restrict access to the city's newest and most celebrated tourist mecca. Having visited myself in November, I can confirm it's a pretty stunning building inside and out - but there seems little point in it being trumpeted as one of the world's most stylish libraries (or, indeed, built in the first place) if few people are going to be able to actually see inside.

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