In a particularly disgusting analogy from Birmingham City Council leader Sir Albert Bore, the proposed cuts to the Library of Birmingham have today been confirmed. With the council already having had to “cut to the bone” it was now “scraping away” at the bones themselves. In translation, more than half of the Library’s 188 staff now face the sack and opening hours will be, embarrassingly, reduced from 73 to 40 in April next year.
It’s always the libraries isn’t it? Nothing new there. We’ve seen many of our local library services taken from us in cold hard blood over the last few years. The library landscape in my city is one totally and very sadly alien to the facilities, the homes away from home, that I enjoyed as a child. These closures were justified by the very creation of this new super-library. And now we are going to leave it, what, just sitting there on it’s hands half the time, twiddling it’s thumbs? A big sore point? Such a decision seems stark-raving mad. This library isn’t just a library. It’s an opportunity. A first-class and award-winning opportunity to not only make libraries exciting again, but the city itself.
There’s all this talk in the national press recently about an apparent Birmingham renaissance. Which we really should be welcoming and building on. But at times like this it all feels like a joke at our expense. For those of us who live in the city, we are increasingly frustrated.
What is the point of creating such a bold space, a talking point that intrigues and attracts both locals and tourists to the city, only to shuffle back sheepishly after a matter of months. Quickly allowing such a high-profile space to be under-used after less than two years of opening. Talk about bad PR.
The confirmation of these savage cuts seems such a waste. Of time, money and our hopes of finally living up to what we know we can be – a world-beating cultural hotspot of a city. Amazing people supported by amazing facilities.
As citizens of Birmingham we should harness that Brummie pride and fight for our Library!