A new city centre library will be a huge asset for Birmingham, providing a gallery, access to digital media, traditional library services and much more, in an impressive and iconic building.
It has been controversial. Not everybody likes the design, not everybody believes in the £189 million price tag and not everyone agrees there was any need to abandon the old “brutalist” building in Chamberlain Square.
But there’s no such thing as a major capital project that pleases everyone. There’s nothing to gain now from complaining about the scheme and plenty to be gained from celebrating the benefits it will being to the city.
However, Birmingham must ensure that the impressive and exciting new library is not allowed to overshadow, or to be seen as a replacement for, the irreplaceable network of community libraries across the city.
Libraries play a major role in promoting literacy and demonstrating that a community values learning and the written word.
Children and adults who cannot afford to purchase books, and in some cases who might need guidance finding the books they need, depend on libraries to provide them with access to skills and knowledge that more wealthy neighbours, or those who have enjoyed the benefits of a better education, take for granted.
It is tempting today to imagine that we live in a golden age of information, in which everyone is plugged into the internet via their laptop and smartphone.