New library at the heart of the University

Our brand new main library, built at a cost of £60 million and described as heralding a new generation of libraries in UK higher education, is now open at the heart of the University.

The milestone building gives users a ‘transformational experience’, providing state-of-the-art facilities for students, staff and researchers. 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.

For our students

The new, technology-rich library houses a variety of learning spaces to cater for different modes of study. With over 2.1 million printed books and journals, the Library boasts 40 miles of shelving, which would stretch from Birmingham to Cheltenham. Students also have access to an array of learning areas including informal seating, group study spaces and individual desks; there are over 1800 seats in total. Alongside traditional learning resources, the library teems with innovative tools and enhanced accessibility for learning in the 21st Century and beyond including, wireless mobile charging, media rooms and video editing booths. 

For our Researchers

The building includes a Research Reserve on the lower ground floor featuring 1.5 million items, which brings together our low use but important heritage print collection. This area responds to a desire to bring more of the University’s collections into a single space, and make it more accessible to library users. Knowledgeable staff are available to facilitate access to this research material and can be found in a small consultation area within the space for those who need access to the collections in situ. There is also a dedicated research space on the first floor of the new library, which includes both a quiet reading room and a breakout space for improved researcher networking and collaboration.

Opening Celebrations for All

The opening on Monday 19 September 2016 was marked with a special exhibition showcasing works from the University’s collections which have pushed the boundaries of Western knowledge over the last 500 years. The three show-pieces were The Nuremberg Chronicle (1493), Vesalius’s On the Fabric of the Human Body (1543) and Chaucer’s Works (1561). There were also a series of events and films complimenting and promoting the exhibition on the three major works, and the essential role that books and libraries play in inspiring knowledge. You can still explore these on the University’s YouTube Channel.  

Inspiring Knowledge: Professor Alice Roberts and Vesalius' anatomy

The Journey 

Over 10 years in the making, the new library was an exciting milestone in the University’s overall development plans. In June 2015, the library celebrated its topping out ceremony where University leaders and guests laid down the principles and ethos of the new construction, and the University’s desire to make important things happen for our community across the region, both today and in the future. Watch that journey unfold below. 

Find out more about the University’s libraries

The University of Birmingham's New Library