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Sunday 21 September 2014

Library book? Sorry, we can't reach

Published 04/04/2014 | 10:07

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The landmark Library of Birmingham is still awaiting delivery of equipment to enable staff to retrieve items from a storage area.
The Library of Birmingham is still awaiting delivery of equipment to enable staff to retrieve thousands of books

A state-of-the-art £188 million library has come under fire after admitting it has no means of reaching thousands of books stored on high shelves.

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The landmark Library of Birmingham, which opened its doors seven months ago, is still awaiting delivery of equipment to enable staff to retrieve items from a storage area.

Officials at the city centre building said it was a "frustrating" situation that should be resolved before the summer. They said the books in the closed stack areas were low-use, academic titles that were borrowed "infrequently".

The library's director, Brian Gambles, said: "We fully understand how popular materials in the closed stack areas of the Library of Birmingham are and it is frustrating that we haven't yet been able to give our customers access to them.

"We had planned to introduce this service in the autumn, after the initial post-opening rush had settled a little, but because we're still awaiting delivery of equipment to enable staff to retrieve items from the storage stacks safely, we have had to delay this service.

"We are in frequent contact with the suppliers to get a delivery date. I'd like to apologise to our customers and ask that they bear with us - we hope to have the service available later this spring."

Thought to be Europe's largest public library, the new building was shortlisted last week for the 2014 Library of the Year award by an industry magazine.

It was officially opened by teenage women's rights campaigner Malala Yousafzai on September 1 last year and contains approximately a million books, a television archive belonging to the British Film Institute, and the second-largest repository of Shakespeare's works in the world.

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