Shard End Library



Aims and objectives


         Succeed economically: The Shard provides work experience opportunities for young people, CV writing, job search skills and support for young entrepreneurs. The Neighbourhood Office and Cole Valley Advice provide assistance to local people with benefit claims.


         Be healthy: Online and print information is available on medical conditions. The NHS offers baby clinics for new born children and their parents at The Shard as well as a signposting service to other local providers to help people make new friends. The Shard provides a range of activities and events to help those with mental health problems including a reading group, local history society and coffee mornings amongst other things.


         Improve education and skills:


         Stay safe in clean and green neighbourhoods: The Shard provides a free, safe, neutral space for people to visit. The construction and fit out of The Shard helps the Council meet its carbon footprint reduction targets through energy efficient solutions.


         Public service excellence: The partnership that the City has with Barratt Homes has delivered substantially improved public facilities. The integrated services being developed at The Shard are delivering more for less and the partnership working is bringing new and improved services to the local community. This service integration whereby a diverse range of services are working collaboratively within the Shard is key to its success.




Services offered


Area challenges and the role of culture

Shard End has many SOAs within the 5% most deprived in England (according to the Index of Multiple Deprivation 2010) and is an area that has been blighted by the highest levels of long term youth unemployment in the country, some of the lowest levels of academic attainment with more than 1 in 3 people without educational qualifications, high levels of teenage pregnancy and low levels of participation in the arts. Before the regeneration project the built environment was very poor, comprising 1960s social housing blocks of flats and maisonettes, many of which were empty and boarded up. The landscape was also characterised by poor shops and a lack of quality public buildings. For some people there was little reason to leave the estate.



At the district level the library is part of the wider Hodge Hill Arts Forum that co-ordinates and develops arts and cultural opportunities across the constituency. The library has developed an extensive programme of free trips for local people to experience live professional theatre including We Will Rock You at the Birmingham Hippodrome and Dinosaurs Live at the NIA, a 6-week learn to ski course at Tamworth Snowdome, and visits to Weston Super Mare, Alton Towers and Drayton Manor. For many families these cultural experiences were a first and, without the free trips organised by the library, would not have been available to them.


Business/operational model

Key partners / stakeholders


Working arrangement

Birmingham is operating an innovative Arts Champions model which supports culture across the 10 Birmingham Districts to encourage wider participation in the arts. This arrangement works by pairing each Birmingham district with an Arts organisation (or Arts Champion) who acts as an advocate for the for arts sector, providing advice and support within the community, and promoting and delivering new activities. In Hodge Hill (where Shard End is located) the arts partner is Birmingham Rep who receive funding from Bimingham City Council.



The role of planning


Financing and funding arrangement



Success factors and outcomes


Some key outcomes so far include an increase in visits from 33,350 in 2011 to 68,300 in 2012. New members have increased by 175% on the previous year and book loans for the first 6 months increased by 20%.


The Shard has won a number of awards and been shortlisted for others. It has received coverage on national television and in trade journals in addition to the local Birmingham media.



Risk factors

As the shell and fit out of the Shards were separate contracts, it was essential that a close working relationship was established between the architects and John Hunt Associates who were designing the interior library spaces. Some difficulties were experienced which led to unnecessary costs being incurred, a lack of clarity over responsibility for some decisions, lack of information on what was being built, time delays and at times poor working relationships and communication between the contractors working on the build and the Birmingham City Council design team / interior contractors. These difficulties, however, were overcome and have not impacted on the quality of the final output.


Measurement and Monitoring


Perhaps the most telling measurement for the success of The Shard is the lack of vandalism and the significant reduction in anti-social behavior that has been observed. This demonstrates that if high quality environments and good public services are provided in a place, people will value and respect it.




         The Shard won the 2012 Mixology North Award for Public Sector Project of the Year.

         The Shard was a finalist in the 2012 FX International Design Awards for Public Sector Interior Design.


         The Shard was also a finalist for the Carbuncle Award 2012: it featured on the Culture Show on BBC when the Carbuncle Award winner was announced, won by The Cutty Sark Museum in Greenwich. The Shard was nominated as a result of the buildings literal interpretation of its location, but it did provide media coverage for the area.


The Library featured in a number of trade magazines as well as local media:


The Library has featured on several trade websites and brochures including Purves and Purves Interiors and Harvey Maria Flooring.


Shard End Library delivered a training day for the West Midlands branch of Cilip (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) on the design process/consultation/aspirations that went into the project. The event included a presentation from John Hunt Associates.


Shard End Library has also been entered for the American Library Association, Library Interior Design Awards. The shortlist has not been announced yet.


Contact Details for Further Information

Kevin Duffy, Senior Service Manager: Community Libraries, Birmingham City Council

Tel: 0121 303 9846

Mob: 07917172266

Email: [email protected]

Address: Community Library Support Unit, Birmingham City Council, PO Box 16565, 1 Lancaster Circus, Birmingham, B2 2FW


The website is as follows, but no longer contains much information on the design, build and consultation process: