Birmingham to get British Film Institute partnership as Mediatheque heads to new library

By Culture24 Staff | 09 February 2010
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A photo of a man in 1970s clothing and style accompanied by a stuffed fox

(Above) Basil Brush is Birmingham-bound as part of the BFI Mediatheque's archive of classic television. Photo: bfi.org.uk

Jim'll Fix It, Breakfast at Tiffany's and classic comedy from the British Film Institute's vast moving image archive will find a second home in England's second city after officials struck a deal to house a BFI Mediatheque at the new Library of Birmingham.

The Centenary Square building will become the fourth outlet for the raft of rare and unusual titles from across the decades, joining Derby's Quad, Cambridge Central Library and the BFI's flagship Southbank Centre in London.

Birmingham City Council Leader Mike Whitby said the breakthrough for the £193 million development, which is on track to open in 2013, would help the city "set new standards for a library's place in the 21st century."

"I am delighted that the Library of Birmingham has been selected as the latest home of the BFI Mediatheque," he added.

"Partnerships with organisations such as the BFI are an excellent means to deliver new and innovative services.

"This is the first in a series of key announcements around the Library of Birmingham, and we look forward to announcing more top-class partnerships in the near future."

A photo of a figure in a digital library

Mediatheques have already been opened in London, Cambridge and Derby. Photo: bfi.org.uk

Visitors will have free access to hours of footage from television history, accompanied by rare and iconic films in a "digital jukebox" of more than 1,500 titles, 90% of which are unavailable to view anywhere else in the UK.

Compilations in the stupendously disparate vault range from a celebration of domestic punk to a documentation of life in Tibet prior to the Chinese occupation.

The Bull Ring Shopping Centre – a 26-minute film from 1965 charting the rise of Birmingham's famously utopian undercover mall – may be of particular interest to locals.

"The Library of Birmingham aims to embrace digital technology, and this resource is certain to become an exciting and invaluable attraction for our visitors," said Brian Gambles, Assistant Director for Culture and Head of Libraries at Birmingham City Council.

"The BFI Mediatheque provides library users with access to one of the world’s largest film archives, and we look forward to enhancing it with a new collection chronicling Birmingham's proud history and culture."

A photo of punks from the UK in the 1970s

Anarchy in the UK is one of dozens of collections offered in the Mediatheque. Photo: bfi.org.uk

The Institute is planning to roll out similar expansion projects across the country, having introduced the first Mediatheque in 2007.

"We always said when we opened our first Mediatheque at BFI Southbank that our aim was to replicate it in every nation and region of the UK, and we are several steps closer to achieving that aim now," explained BFI Director Amanda Nevill.

"The public is clamouring to see it and it is the job of the BFI to make it more widely and easily available to everyone, regardless of where they live."

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