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The library

The library

If you want to keep up to date with the library campaign then join the Friends of Selly Oak Library Facebook group.

The plan

We want to renovate the old Selly Oak Library into a community arts space with a café, a library, workshops spaces, rehearsal spaces and performance spaces. Find us on Facebook to see our 360-degree images of the future library. If you want to be a part of this campaign then please sign our petition!

For local residents

Reinstating the library means restoring the heart of Selly Oak’s community. The presently derelict building will become a local shared space to which the whole community is invited and which hums with a history of education, storytelling and sharing. Beneath Carnegie's roof, residents will be able share ideas for Selly Oak's future, get involved with the local arts scene and create new and exciting community initiatives. We foresee that, through reinstating Selly Oak's heart, there will be an improvement in local safety, pride and community cohesion.

For school pupils

The new Selly Oak Library will be a safe and welcoming space for school pupils, but also somewhere where cultural horizons and ambitions are challenged and celebrated. Performance is an intrinsic part of learning, both in terms of practical skills like communication and leadership, and in terms of building confidence and empathy. We will instate theatre as a positive force in the lives of young people. Besides this, university students will be able to run affordable tutoring sessions through the library to help school pupils with their studies and to share their experience of further education. 

For students

Not only will the library serve as an off-campus study space, but it will also be a place to relax. You can meet friends for coffee, read for pleasure or grab some lunch in a bubble of calm, only a short walk from the high-frequency buzz of campus life. Student groups will also be welcome to use our rehearsal and performance spaces when Guild rehearsal rooms are full.

What to expect

From the front porch area, you will be able to catch fragments of conversation, children’s laughter, live music and snippets of drama rehearsals. Through the doors, the large centre area will be filled to the brim with books, posters and the work of future artists. Those future artists will be hard at work in the Backstage Room, that was once the children’s room, making masks, writing poems or drawing characters. Across the way, the space that once housed the adult fiction will be transformed into a café, with second-hand wooden furniture, hand-painted by local artists. Children will trace the artwork on the tables, whilst their parents listen to the guitarist playing a mixture of old and new music in the corner.

Upstairs, the old women’s reading room will be a studio rehearsal space for local theatre groups. If you open the door to the smaller upstairs room, you might catch a local band recording an EP or a group of residents recording a podcast.


In the evening, the building will be transformed so that the front desk is a box office and thick black curtains separate the centre space from the rest of the building to create a theatre. The bookcases will be hidden and the café will sell gin and tonic and lemon drizzle cake in the intervals.

We are a lot of red tape away from the New Selly Oak Library. However, across the road, a circus performance group are looking to take up residence in the Selly Oak Institute. Touchbase Pears is getting increasingly involved with the local arts scene and, down the road, the university drama campus houses some of the most gifted drama students in the UK. If we manage to get the library, Selly Oak could become a new centre for arts in Birmingham. 

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