The Hobbit is first book on new Birmingham library shelves

City council leader Albert Bore puts a copy of The Hobbit on the shelf City council leader Albert Bore said it was a "wonderful feeling" to place the first book on the first shelf in the library

A copy of JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit has become the first book to be put on the shelves of Birmingham's new library.

Library managers had asked people to vote via Twitter which book should have the honour of being first.

More than 400,000 books are to be transferred into the £190m building in Centenary Square from the old Central Library.

About 1,100 crates of books will be brought into the library every day for the next three months.

Top 10 books chosen by Birmingham library users

  • The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien
  • The Rotters Club by Jonathan Coe
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • Paradise Lost by John Milton
  • Before I Go To Sleep by S J Watson
  • King James Bible
  • Talking Turkeys by Benjamin Zephaniah
  • John Madin: A Biography
  • Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • 1984 by George Orwell

Project director Brian Gambles said it felt "so rewarding" to finally get some books on the shelves.

"It seems like only yesterday that we were walking here on a muddy field that was a building site and now we're in a fantastic building," he said.

"The Hobbit is a classically-accessible book for both adults and children which reflects what we want for the library, to be accessible for everyone.

"The book also has links to Birmingham, what with Tolkien spending his childhood in the city."

A number of scenes from The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy are said to be inspired by landmarks around the city including Perrot's Folly, Edgbaston Waterworks and Sarehole Mill, in Hall Green.

Some of the other books voted into the top 10 also had local links, including Before I Go to Sleep by Stourbridge author Steven Watson and Talking Turkeys by Handsworth poet Benjamin Zephaniah.

Paradise Lost

The title of another book in the top 10, Fahrenheit 451, refers to the temperature at which books burn - Prince Charles famously once said the current city library looked like "a place where books are incinerated, not kept".

Birmingham Central Library Birmingham's existing 1970s library was criticised by Prince Charles

Another book in the top 10 is the biography of John Malin, the Birmingham-born architect who designed the current library and several other 1970s landmarks in the city, and the inclusion of Paradise Lost may be a reference to Paradise Circus, where the existing library is based.

Birmingham City Council leader Albert Bore, who placed the first book on the shelf, said it was a "wonderful feeling".

He said: "The library looks fantastic, I'm in awe of the space.

"I'm sure it will look different again in a few weeks when all the books are on the shelves and people are in here using it."

The library opens to the public on 3 September.

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