Last year, many members wrote to Birmingham City Council when, as part of their budget consultations, they proposed closing down the music library altogether. This at a time when the service had just moved into the brand new library building and was able to offer users fantastic – and as I saw for myself, much used – facilities, including for listening and playing. The protests were clearly effective – Birmingham music library service has been revamped, and it is now up and running again, with much reduced but dedicated staffing.
The service is available to any organisation which rehearses within the West Midlands Metropolitan area and immediately surrounding shire counties: Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire.
Its extensive collections – well known to many members in the area – include vocal and orchestral sets covering both standard and more obscure repertoire, and smaller collections of sets for concert band, big band and youth orchestra.
Users can borrow up to 12 sets at a time for flexible loan periods (12 months max). Material must be collected and returned in person to Library of Birmingham. Inter Library Loans are not resuming (they were discontinued a number of years ago); this, as with many music library services, is a question of cost.
Visit www.libraryofbirmingham.com for details of current charges, other information, and collection listings. There are reductions in the loan charges for Birmingham based groups.
The service operates part-time (Tuesday, Wednesday, alternate Thursday and Saturday) and by appointment only. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information or Tel: 0121 242 4242.
It is not entirely clear whether this is a long-, medium-term or interim measure for the service. We will keep members informed if we find out more and as ever encourage groups to contact us as soon as possible if there are threats to this or other music libraries that they use.