Birmingham City Council already has its own tried and trusted template for dealing with problems such as those threatening the new library.
Look no further than the solution they came up with to deal with the cost of running one of the top Science Museums in Europe.
They closed it and stored all the exhibits in a warehouse that is open to the public for two days a year. Great idea. They even stacked the exhibits randomly on shelves up to the ceiling so that most were out of sight (also a great idea since it discourages visitors). But, the full-time staff savings! – only needs two microbiologists to stop bugs eating the exhibits.
Now, I’m not proposing that they should close the library (unless one of their favourite developers wants the site), but have they not considered storing the books in another warehouse in Nechells? Think of the benefits: Run the library as the world’s largest coffee bar (International publicity, Guinness Book of Records); Fewer and cheaper staff (no qualifications needed to serve coffee); Massive profits (have you seen what idiots pay for espresso?). The only downside, of course, is that they would have to employ at least two more microbiologists.
Having worked for the NHS for over thirty years and my wife having worked as a teacher for the same length of time we simultaneously formed the theory that both professions would work swimmingly if we could get rid of the patients and the kids. How refreshing to find that our theories have been proved empirically.
I still smile when I remember that Birmingham once competed to be City of Culture.