University of Birmingham’s £44 million new Main Library

Associated Architects completes work on University of Birmingham’s £44 million new library

Birmingham-based Associated Architects has completed work on the University of Birmingham’s £44 million new Main Library.

The building, described as heralding a new generation of libraries in UK higher education, opens its doors at the University’s Edgbaston Campus on Monday, September 19.

The milestone building will provide state-of-the-art facilities for students, staff and researchers, as well as a cultural hub for the University and the city, with some facilities being open to the public.

With some 62 kilometres of shelving, including 12km of open access bookshelves, the library will provide a new home for the thousands of books and publications owned by the University while also delivering what the University’s Director of Library Services Diane Job has described as ‘inspirational learning spaces embracing new and emerging technologies’. These include a new vanguard audio listening room and four video editing suite booths. Desks are placed near windows to maximise natural light and give spectacular views across campus.

The library has been tailor-made to suit modern users’ requirements and is designed to make more of the University’s extraordinary collections accessible to students and staff, with expert library staff on hand to help and advise on texts, support and resources.


Diane Job said: “The opening of the library is the culmination of a huge amount of hard work to make sure our incredible resources are organised in ways which allow our students and staff to enjoy new ways of working and access the considerable materials we hold in the most straightforward way.”

The demolition of the deficient 1950s library will create a ‘green heart’ to the campus, improving both site circulation and the setting of the historic buildings. The new Library has a colonnaded front to this open space at the natural centre of the University.


The opening is being marked with a special exhibition, open to the public, showcasing works from the University’s collections, which have pushed the boundaries of Western knowledge over the last 500 years.


Organised by the University’s Library Services with the Cadbury Research Library, the exhibition, called Inspiring Knowledge: works of innovation and imagination that have shaped our world, will be staged in the new Library Lounge.