Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Urgent: Birmingham Music Library under imminent threat

It's been drawn to my attention that the scandal of the Library of Birmingham - a fabulous new building which the city has opened, only to find it cannot now afford to keep it open more than 40 hours a week - extends to the likely imminent closure of the Birmingham Music Library, a major, award-winning, invaluable resource for professionals, students and community alike. Please read the communication below, which I reproduce as received, and take whatever action you are able.

You may have seen the recent announcements in the Press concerning severe cuts at the new Library of Birmingham. (See list of links below)

About 100 of the Library’'s 188 staff will go as opening hours are cut from 73 to 40 hours per week and other services for the public are stopped.

The Director of the Library has resigned, and if these proposed changes go ahead, business, learning, music and archive services will cease - there will no longer be a Music Library in Birmingham, run by specialist staff with relevant subject knowledge.

The Music Library was a previous recipient of IAML’s Excellence Award where its citation read:

‘Birmingham Music Library is a regional centre of excellence with MLA designated status for its extensive and rich special collections which include Bantock, the Birmingham Triennial Music Festival and Handel libretti collections. It offers a comprehensive service for the local community and is developing its client base for the future. The Library has an active policy of local engagement, providing advertising for local concerts and a programme encouraging local musicians to donate their CDs. Birmingham has also pioneered developments in support for people with severe learning disabilities. For the range of services and the sheer scale of operation it is among the best public music libraries in the country, giving constant attention both to the traditional services of lending and reference and to the breadth of its other activities.’

Besides the millions of individuals who use the library for their own purposes, there are many hundreds of choirs, orchestras, amateur and professional groups who cannot operate without the services of the Music Library to supply the scores and parts which are essential for their public performances. The impact on performers and the public will be severe. Some groups will not survive.

The news of the cuts was announced on the day Malala Yousafzai was awarded the Nobel Peace prize, the Pakistani teenager who led the Library of Birmingham’s opening ceremony, announcing ‘Pens and books are weapons against terrorism’ and that a ‘city without a library is a graveyard’.

The short-sightedness of these cuts, and the irrevocable damage it will do, needs to be fought urgently. On the national as well as local stage.

Can I urge you if you agree with me, to sign the petition here?

If you would like to do more, can you spread these details as far as you can? We need letters to MPs, and especially to the National press spelling out how these cuts will impact on our quality of life…

The "official" route for comments is to complete the survey at
You can also:
§  Text ‘Budget’ followed by a space and your message to 07786 200 403
§  Write to Budget Views, Room 221, Council House, Victoria Square, Birmingham B1 1BB

But I think the more national media cover the better...where is the Secretary of State for Libraries in all of this?

I hope you will feel able to help.