It started raining just before 0600 and was very heavy for a while ensuring I was up early. I decided it would be a good day to go and see the new Birmingham Central Library that opened on Tuesday. The competition for the design was won by Francine Houben in 2008, The construction started in January 2010 ans was opened 3rd September 2013. The architecture is said to be Post Modern High-Tech! I got there just after 1000. There were all ready plenty of people milling about, and on hand were many staff to help out. It is on the second floor when it gets really interesting. With blue lit escalators and book shelves all around on four levels. It was very striking visually but the books didn't seem to strand out so much. The outer parts of the building on each floor seem to be separated off from the central 'dome' by glass walls. They don't seem to be too welcoming as you feel that you are not allowed to enter this 'back' area, but actually you have to enter it to get to the books and to access the lifts to the next floors. There is a glass lift from the central area but that broke down on the first or second day and has been out of commission. A lot of the doors were supposed to be automatic and it seemed to be a bit hit and miss whether they worked or not.
Escalators in the central area of the library.
I also noticed that, whether using the stairs or the lift, it was difficult to understand where you were as the sign with the Floor Number on was not where you were looking. With the layout being circular it was difficult on first use to intuitively find your way about. I had to book in to go and see the Shakespeare Room but as there was no waiting list I caught the lift directly to the 9th floor where it is found.
The stunning array of books in the central area.
The Shakespeare Room was designed by John Chamberlain in 1882 to house a collection of Shakespeare folios. As the library's have been demolished and rebuilt the room has been dismantled and moved. It has lost prominence with every move so it was decided to incorporate it in this latest library and give it due prominence as it house one of the two greatest collections of Shakespeare related material including a First Folio of his from 1623. There also another 43000 books etc. The room is beautiful but doers seem a bit weird in the new building but at least it will be seen now.
Not a very good picture but you will hopefully get some idea of what it is like.
The Shakespeare Room is on the 9th Floor and so is the external viewing gallery. There are good views of the city and can see my house (boat) from there. (A small Monty Python reference).
Holderness from the viewing gallery of the Birmingham Central Library.
The viewing gallery has some lovely garden and sitting areas and will be lovely in good weather. I hope that they maintain the standard of the gardens as they have a great atmosphere at the moment. The building has added to the quality of buildings in Birmingham, and although it would be quite stark if bare the design does soften it and helps to blend it in. I'm sure that the teething troubles will be ironed out and I'm sure that using it as a library and reference centre will be much better than the damp and musty old library.
'Secret Garden' of the Central Library.
Centenary Square from the Gallery of the Central Library.
I went shopping to the Rag Market area of the Bull Ring for some bits and pieces. I was surprised that there were no butchers. There were lots of green grocers, but no meat! In the afternoon I decided to make some syrup from some rose hips I had picked a couple of days ago. I minced up the hips and then boiled them and then drained of the liquid. I then boiled up the residue in a less water and drained that off. I then boiled up the liquid with some sugar and bottled it. I think that I should have used a little more sugar though. It tastes okay when diluted with lemonade rather than water, but it should be doing me good, I hope.
Liquor and residue of rose hips.
The colour of the finished product isn't that appealing is it?