The TaxPayers’ Alliance will be fulminating. On Tuesday, Birmingham’s new library – a £189m tribute to modernity and already receiving great reviews – will open. The largest public building of its type in Europe, it is part of a daring plan to reinvent the centre of the city. But in the world inhabited by the TaxPayers’ Alliance, where all public initiative is futile, this must a priori be a useless waste of money.
The Library of Birmingham is a fabulous public space, less a library, more an attempt to create an open information hub for the city – surely the only future for libraries as they shudder before the twin impact of the digital revolution and the cruellest, fastest withdrawal of local public spending from any major industrialised country since 1945.
The digital revolution means that we don’t really have a future place for buildings called libraries. Therefore it’s wonderful that £189 million of the ratepayers’ money has been pissed away on one.
I’ve said before that the most co0nservative people in Britain are those on the left. And here it is again: we must still have libraries, even if we don’t need them, because we used to have libraries.