I went to the opening of the new Library of Birmingham today and was quite impressed, both by the building, the crowd who turned up to see it, and the poise of Malala Yousafzai as she made her speech.
The building was crammed but I did have a bit of a look round. I took the escalators and travelator to the 4th floor and from there it was a choice between lifts or stairs. I decided to climb the stairs. It just seemed nobler to leave all available space in the lifts for the frail and elderly. By the time I reached the 7th floor I’d remembered I was elderly.
Alongside the official opening there was a much smaller unofficial event, a protest by the Friends of the Library of Birmingham.* They had banners with short messages and leaflets with more details; there was also a petition to sign. They had obviously put a lot of thought into planning their protest but probably not a lot of money. And they managed to get their message across to lots of people. As I left the building I noticed their banner hanging from one of the terraces.
There’s been a lot of discussion among Birmingham City fans about the pros and cons of protests. I don’t want to rehash all the arguments; I just want to say that there are ways of getting a message across in a peaceful way.
*Friends of the Library of Birmingham have put pictures of the protest on their Facebook page.