The £189 million Library of Birmingham is a world-class centre for culture, learning and knowledge. With technology firmly at its core, this impressive and architecturally bold addition to the city redefines the role of the library in today’s digitally connected world. With state-of-the-art facilities including a triple-storey Digital Gallery and a BFI Mediatheque which provides free access to the National Film Archive, the library opens up Birmingham’s internationally renowned collection of archives, photography and books.
With more than three million visitors expected each year, and millions more online, the library knew that the successful delivery of digital services both inside and outside the facility would be key to its successful realisation. Enter leading systems integrator, Vanti and an AMX-controlled solution which is helping to ‘rewrite the book’ for public libraries in the 21st century.
The impressive technological provision begins in the foyer, an expansive, double-storey space that reaches all the way through to the back of the building. The client was clear that the digital focus of the library should be evident as soon as visitors entered and, being an events venue, they also wanted to ensure they could communicate the diverse range of activities taking place in the library on a daily basis. Vanti’s solution was a large format LCD video wall which is fed with content from an array of sources, all managed from a simple to use AMX control panel. A NI700 central controller allows the vast array of devices in this high-tech space to become integrated as part of the central AMX control system.
Moving on, and the library’s striking Digital Gallery is formed of a triple-storey wall that runs from the ground floor children’s area, to the ceiling of the central atrium. A dedicated feature area, the wall was conceived to showcase large-format, high-resolution artwork and digital imagery of the library’s range of archived assets. No fewer than 22 NEC displays combine to create the abstract arrangement that mirrors the building’s own silhouette. As with the foyer media wall, a diverse range of feeds are brought together and, as source selection needs to be made by non-technical staff, an AMX Modero control panel has been installed to provide an easy-to-use interface and intuitive user experience.
As well as providing a valuable service and engaging with the public, it was also vital that the library could raise its own revenue through the hire of its meeting, presentation and exhibition spaces. Its impressive Conference Centre is a world class facility designed and technologically specified to rival the likes of Birmingham’s International Convention Centre.
An AMX Enova DGX32 Matrix Switcher sits at the heart of the system. The industry’s first modular digital media switcher with a built-in central controller, this innovative unit manages and distributes analogue plus digital audio and video, including HDMI with HDCP, control and Ethernet, around the Library of Birmingham’s high-tech facilities, enabling the library’s connected devices to be centrally monitored, managed and controlled over its IT infrastructure. With DXLink transmitters and receivers in each separate meeting space and a DVI Input card for integration with the signage system, this flexible solution ensures that the Conference Centre is a versatile event space that supports both the presentation and consumption of content from a wide range of sources.
User control is provided using a range of 7in, 10in and 19in AMX Modero X Series panels, depending on situation and the amount of technology to be controlled. These are backed by an AMX NI-3100 central controller complete with a MXA-MP Preview Unit, allowing the panoramic panel on reception to monitor output in each room. This central control panel allows staff to see the status of all rooms, including the live content feeds. Taking control of a particular room is simply a matter of selecting it on the layout. Rooms can also be linked together and reconfigured from the control panel at the touch of a button, with the AMX system automatically adapting as partitions are positioned to divide or open up spaces. Blu-Ray players have been integrated into the system as shared resources that are bookable with each of the spaces. When a player is assigned to a room, the controls appear on the in-room panel for the duration of the booking.
The library’s boardroom needed a similarly high-end system suitable for library executives and high profile visitors. The AMX control system makes the room’s technology, which includes a recessed projection screen, in-ceiling speakers and Blu-ray, Freeview and standard VGA/HDMI inputs, exceptionally easy to use, with live previews from all inputs relayed on the Modero X Series control panel.
So, thanks to Vanti’s innovative application of AMX technology, this is one library that has certainly found its place in the digital world, and is now future-ready for anything the 21st century has to throw at it.