The new library is overrated

It cost £60 million and the Wi-fi still doesn’t work

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A few weeks ago the University of Birmingham opened the doors to the new library. The website promised a “transformational experience”, but the reality was an extravagant, modern, metropolis of hipster chairs and open space work stations.

The noise level during peak times is deafening. The new big attraction will be a well received new building for freshers who are used to a 6th form common room with as much space as a broom cupboard, but for us vintage Brum students the old library now seems like a distant memory. The new library just isn’t cutting it, and here’s why: 

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The decor 

The first thing you notice when walking into the new library is the strange light bulbs above you – one of many weird modern artistic items in the complex. The tall chairs, golden staircase and bright flooring all seem a tad unnecessary.

It may seem all new and shinny for the moment but soon the ridiculous design and interior will become a waste of money and time. Everywhere you look something will make you think “wtf is that?”. The term unnecessary is the only way to describe the inside and outside of the library. This isn’t Tate Modern, leave the art to the Barber Institute.

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What fresh hell are these lights?

Food and drink policy 

The new library also has a pretty strict policy against taking food or drink in. For now must of us can cope with this ban, but when exam period comes along the absence of coffee may just seem a step too far. Even for essay deadlines the need for a hot beverage and a flapjack is real. The cafe is now crammed and it is clear a lot of us are just going to ignore this one and smuggle goods in our bags/hoodies.

Just to put salt in the wound, some of the prices in the cafe will leave you speechless. The majority of products are similar in price to the old library, but buying a panini as well as staying out of your overdraft is no longer possible.

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You sick bastards

All the new gadgets 

For some, the new 3D maps, slick printers and fast computers are awesome (if they actually work), but for others the technology can sometimes be a bit bewildering, especially the new Robotic Lifts. The letter/numbers combination is too much, and when you enter one of the lifts you’re stuck – it’s literally just a metal box taking you somewhere in the building.

Pushing the button for the floor you want once you’re inside the lift isn’t a massive hardship, in fact, it’s something we miss about the old library.

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New work spaces 

The open space work places not only means you can’t hide your YouTube screen, but also means that things get pretty noisy. Here’s to some tense hours with your headphones on max, trying to alternate between tuning out a long-winded story about what happened at Snobs, and praying that UoB will install some walls.

Despite all the extra space, it is still difficult to find a working space in peak times, book a room, and get in and out. It seems that Gold paint and funky furniture was prioritised above giving everyone a work space. It still seems crammed on a weekday, and later in the year things can only get worse.

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May as well just walk straight back out, you’re not getting a seat

For me, I’ll always look to the right at the old redbrick library that will soon be demolished, and remember the strange graffiti in the booths, the smell of vintage books and the rustic old desks – the way a library should be.