Help us to shape the future of Birmingham libraries

Closed 27 Jan 2017

Opened 25 Oct 2016

Feedback updated 10 Mar 2017

We asked

For your comments on the proposed Tiered Model for Community Libraries, as part of the council’s consultation on library services.

You said

We were very pleased with the number of responses received and thank everyone who took part.

There were:

  • 1,947 responses to the online survey on our Birmingham Be Heard website
  • 72 responses submitted by letter or email
  • 1,675 responses to a survey specifically aimed at children which was sent to all primary schools and was available in community libraries
  • 9 petitions.

We did

Initial plans for a three-tiered service (with opening hours and staff support reduced in tiers 2 and 3) were put forward as part of the council’s effort to respond to reduced funding from central government and would have seen the libraries at Aston and Sutton close – reducing annual expenditure by £1.9million by 2018/19.

However, comments and feedback along with potentially up to £150,000 in a one-off funding pledge from Sutton Coldfield Town Council have helped Birmingham City Council refine its plans all within the reduced finances, the highlights of which are as follows:

•        Sutton Coldfield Library to remain open until 31st August 2017, whilst the city council, town council, the Library Lobby campaign group and other organisations work together to see if a long-term sustainable partnership solution can be established for the service.

•        Aston Library to remain open as a Tier 3 library, with nearby Birchfield to operate as a Tier 2 instead of a Tier 1 facility.

•        Services at Glebe Farm to be enhanced (from current opening hours of 15 hours per week up to 21 hours per week), with Kents Moat closing (in line with suggestions made by the public during the consultation period)

In addition to this there will be an increase in spend on the book fund, a proposed budget of £380,000 against last year's £140,000.

The repairs and maintenance fund for libraries will also increase by £50,000 to £145,000 and there will be an investment of £800,000 in new technology to improve self-service facilities for library users.

Staffing numbers will still have to reduce from 112 to 99 full-time equivalents, up from an initially-proposed 88 after the reshaped plans meant it was possible to increase staffing levels in some of the busier libraries.

The Tiered model:

  • Tier 1 sites (19 in total) would be open for 35 hours per week, likely to be delivered from the existing sites and have other services (e.g benefits verification) delivered from them too. All will have investment in self-service equipment.

Locations: Small Heath, Ward End, Kings Heath, Acocks Green, Sparkhill, South Yardley, Northfield, Balsall Heath, Erdington, Hall Green, Harborne, Mere Green, Handsworth, Kings Norton, Shard End, Quinton, Weoley Castle, Yardley Wood, Sutton Coldfield.

  • Tier 2 sites (10 in total) would be open for 21 hours per week, likely to be delivered from the current library buildings, although options may exist to increase hours of operation by working with partners.

Locations: Birchfield, Walmley, Kingstanding, Perry Common, Frankley, Spring Hill, Boldmere, Druids Heath, Tower Hill, Sheldon.

  • Tier 2/3 sites (2 in total) would be open for 21 hours per week, but will need the involvement of communities or other organisations to be sustainable.

Locations: Stirchley, Glebe Farm.

  • Tier 3 sites (5 in total) would be run by community organisations, from either their own premises or via a facility transferred to them by the council. The library service will offer support through a 15-hour worker and the provision of books and investment in self-service equipment.

Locations: Aston, West Heath, Bartley Green, Bloomsbury, Selly Oak.

  • A further group (Tier 4) is also proposed, under the heading of Community Initiated Library Services, through which any local scheme that increases access to one of the Society of Chief Librarians’ universal offers (digital, learning, information, reading or health) would be considered for support via a small grants scheme or the city’s Local Innovation Fund. At present there are live discussions with four organisations around Tier 4 provision. Castle Vale Library already operates under such arrangements.
  • Two sites (Bloomsbury and West Heath) are temporarily closed, but are proposed for Tier 3 provision solution once operational again.


Birmingham’s libraries are buildings that many generations have used and enjoyed for a host of things including leisure, work and research purposes.

Today, alongside the iconic Library of Birmingham, there are 37 community libraries in Birmingham and last year alone there were 2 million visits to community libraries, with 1.59 million books borrowed. It’s clear that our Community Libraries are trusted spaces, which are free to enter and open to all.

However, as identified nationally, expectations of libraries have and will continue to change. In December 2014, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s Independent Library Report for England was published. The report highlighted the “sustained and severe financial situation” and the “rapid pace of current change” which is impacting on libraries across England.

Within this challenging context, the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 gives Birmingham City Council a statutory duty to provide “a comprehensive and efficient library service”.

Why your views matter

We are committed to doing this – but as expectations change and final challenges emerge, we need to reflect upon what we are doing with the resources available to us.

This is a genuine and open consultation process. If you have workable ideas for the future of your local library or libraries, we want to hear them.

We are looking to develop new partnerships and welcome your involvement.

Now is the time to have a say to ensure the libraries of the future are as relevant and well-regarded as they have been in the past.

Public meetings

We are running sessions at, or near to every library in Birmingham to answer questions and help you to take part. Find out when we will be visiting a site near you in the 'Dates of public meetings/events' document.




  • Anyone from any background


  • Libraries