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David Bishop - Development Manager for Archives and Heritage, Library of Birmingham

Page history last edited by Library of Birmingham 11 years, 3 months ago

Opening in 2013, the Library of Birmingham represents one of the most significant cultural projects to have been undertaken in the UK in the past decade. A key cornerstone of Birmingham City Council’s Big City Plan to regenerate the city centre, the new library will be a hub for the region and an engine for the knowledge and creative economies, linking the people of Birmingham to the world and bringing the world to Birmingham. It will be a major cultural destination that will rewrite the book for 21st century libraries. 


Birmingham is home to a host of amazingly rich and extensive archive and special collections, including one of the world’s most comprehensive Shakespeare collections and a world-class photography collection. Large parts of our holdings have been designated as being of national and international importance by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council. 


My job is to oversee the move of these invaluable items from their home in the current Birmingham Central Library to the Library of Birmingham – and it’s more than simply a case of putting them in boxes and carrying them across! In fact, our staff and specialist contractors have already started preparations for the relocation, some two and a half years before the Library of Birmingham opens. 


Many of our archived items are extremely fragile, including those that are hundreds of years old. Such irreplaceable and invaluable items must be handled with extreme care and stored in purpose-built containers to ensure they are not damaged. To demonstrate the extent of these requirements, we have even commissioned the production of tiny acid-free boxes to contain the library’s smallest books, ‘The Bijou Series’ from 1850, which are just 2.5cm tall! 


As well as the physical move, one of my key tasks is to oversee the digitisation of the archives and heritage service. The Library of Birmingham is set to welcome millions of visitors to the building, and yet more millions worldwide. Providing access to the archives is key to both. Together with colleagues, I am working on the photography, scanning and digital reproduction required to bring our collections to life online. 


The Library of Birmingham will provide purpose built storage areas for the collections, ensuring they are preserved perfectly for future generations to explore, while display areas will ensure that more people can enjoy them than ever before. 


If you would like to find out more about the Library of Birmingham project, please visit www.libraryofbirmingham.com 


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