Library of Birmingham
At the Library of Birmingham, you’ll find historical items relating to William Shakespeare, photography displays and 19th-century greeting cards, and books dating back to the 1500s. The library was originally called the Birmingham Central Library, but is now known as the Library of Birmingham in its new location in Centenary Square. This new lending facility and museum will be spread over 10 floors.
Go to the Shakespeare collection to find over 40,000 artifacts about the playwright’s life and work. Among these are around 6,000 photographs and 10,000 programs. Look for a copy of the First Folio. It was printed in 1623 and was the first book to contain all of Shakespeare’s plays. Book lovers will also enjoy the Parker Collection, a set of children’s literature and games. The oldest book dates to 1538.
Photography enthusiasts will appreciate the collections of Birmingham-born Benjamin Stone, who was a British politician. Don’t miss the displays of American and European portrait photographs taken in the mid-1800s. Find one of the biggest collections of silent movie music in the U.K., including a rare piece by Charlie Chaplin, and an exhibition of greetings cards from the early 19th to 20th century.
Younger visitors to the library should explore the Glad Ur Not… galleries. Prints, photographs and storybooks portray the daily life of children during the Industrial Revolution.
Come to the library during the annual Birmingham Literature Festival for talks and poetry readings. Visit the Library of Birmingham’s official website for full details, plus information on talks and theatrical performances taking place in the outdoor amphitheater.
Located in the city center, the Library of Birmingham is a short walk from major city attractions, including Symphony Hall and Victoria Square. The nearest train station, New Street, is a 15-minute walk away. Public buses stop on nearby Broad Street.
The library is open every day of the year, except for public holidays. From Monday to Friday it’s open until late. Check the website for exact opening hours.