June 2020 Newsletter


Welcome to our new format Monthly Newsletter

  • Welcome from our Senior Vice President, Dr Serena Trowbridge
  • Trustee Appointments
  • Operations Update
  • Our Coat of Arms
  • Library Matters
  • Become a Member of the BMI


Welcome to the June newsletter from the BMI. Although the building has been closed for a while now, the board of trustees has been busy behind the scenes, along with our fabulous staff and volunteers, as we plan for the future of the Institute. I’m delighted to say that we have a number of new trustees, who bring a wide range of experience and expertise, which will be crucial to supporting our development in the future. Details of our new trustees can be seen below.

Although we have been busy, we are missing our members and being able to visit the building and the library, and we hope that you are all well and safe, and look forward very much to being able to welcome you back in the near future. In the meantime, if you have any ideas or suggestions for events, fund-raising, or other plans we might develop, please do get in touch.

Like many other charities and small organisations, we are also fundraising, since we need to not only keep the building running but also improve the fabric of the building in order to ensure its safety, beauty and longevity. If you feel able to donate even a small amount to our campaign, we would be extremely grateful – you can do this online by clicking on this link.

Dr Serena Trowbridge
Senior Vice President

Trustee Appointments

We are delighted to advise that the Board of Trustees has appointed five new trustees, as follows:

Mark Blake
Paul Borrow-Longain
Ravinder Singh-Chumber
Kenneth Morris
Matthew Vaughan

Their experiences and skills will add to the competencies of the board and assist in navigating the course of the institute over the next few years.

Details of the Board of Trustees may be found here:
Meet the Board of Trustees

Stephen Hartland
Honorary Secretary

Operations Update

We have all been working incredibly hard behind the scenes to get the BMI building as safe as possible when we re-open.  So with this in mind you might notice a few changes next time you pay us a visit.  We are planning to be open from Monday 6th July.

Firstly, we now have a one way system through the building, making use of the main staircase for entry and the back staircase for exit.  We are also only opening our five largest rooms, all of which can cater for socially distanced events.  For added hygiene and safety purposes we have hand sanitiser stations throughout the building.  We also have adapted our cleaning protocols to be in line with the recommendations from the World Health Organisation.

Social distancing will be expected at all times, but hopefully with your continued help and support this will be achieved with a minimum of fuss.

We have had to take the difficult decision to postpone all the Monday Lectures for the rest of 2020 along with the Friday Concerts and Friday Morning Club.  Hopefully we will have a full programme of events for you to attend, starting in January 2021.  We are working on trying to deliver some online content for you all in the meantime.

Dan Parsons
Operations Manager

Coat of Arms of the Institute

The Coat of Arms of the institute were officially granted on 30th March 2005. The description of the Arms is achieved by what is called a blazon and is a correct description of armorial bearings, shown in the Letters Patent, which grants the right to bear Arms. The blazon for the BMI’s achievement is:

Arms: Per fess wavy of two troughs and a wave Gules and Azure a Barrulet wavy couped to the dexter Per bend sinister and to the sinister per bend composed of two troughs and a wave fracted and there conjoined to the horns of a Crescent Or between three Lozenges also Or each charged with a Staff Raguly proper enflamed Tenny a Chief Ermine.

Crest: upon a helm Within a Coronet Or a Muse statant proper vested Argent about the temples a Wreath of Laurel Vert tied with a Riband Gules holding in the dexter hand a Book proper bound Gules and in the sinister hand a Painter’s palette and two Brushes at the feet on the dexter a brass Microscope and on the sinister a music Scroll all proper Mantled Gules doubled Or.

But what does it all mean? Nothing in a Coat of Arms is there without some sort of meaning. So, let’s see.

Meaning: The arms have the black and white of the early de Berminghams and the Ermine of the Calthorpe family, which held lands in the area around Birmingham and were sometime Lords of the Manor of Edgbaston. The gold, red and blue (plus lozenges) of other branches of the de Berminghams (see also the current arms of Birmingham). The torch of learning signified by the flaming “ragged staff” of the Earls of Warwick, since Warwickshire is the principal county of Birmingham in which the town was traditionally located.

The Birmingham Library (set up in 1779) was subsumed into the BMI in 1955 and in the middle of the shield is a representation of this, in the form of a partition line to represent an open golden book viewed end on.

The Crest is in the form of a Muse, and in this case she carries a book, as well as a palette and at her feet within a Crest Coronet lie a microscope and a music scroll thus depicting Science, Music and the Arts in accordance with the founding Act of Parliament of 1854.

The Motto SINE FINE DOCTINA translates as “Through Patience All Things”.

Library Matters

I am overjoyed to be able to say that The Library will be open from the 6th July, subject to no second waves or spikes of the virus. We have decided upon the following measures to keep you, us, and the books safe. The Library will be open from 10 am to 3 pm every weekday, and will hopefully have a volunteer librarian present to help people who want to borrow books. We plan to assign people a 30-minute slot to come in, choose books and borrow them.

Appointments will need to be booked by phone, 0121 236 3591, or through enquiries@bmi.org.uk.

There will be sanitising equipment and visors available, should you require them, and you will be asked to wear protective gloves, which will be provided, while you browse. These should be thrown away when you leave. The books can be borrowed in the usual manner, filling in your card with a pen which will then be sanitised (or you can use your own), and you will be given your books in a bag, in which you can also return the books. As normal, you can borrow four books for four weeks. When you return the books, there will be a designated place for your books in their bag, to which you will be directed when you enter the building. The books will then be cleaned and returned to the shelf when they are safe. Having the one way system and sanitising stations around the building, and your own appointment, will limit the number of people you encounter, will help you to socially distance appropriately, and will mean that your visit will be as safe as we can possibly make it.

Of course, should you simply wish to come in and read a book, that is perfectly fine, as long as you have an appointment and use the protective gloves. Any research you need to do must also be by appointment, and please give us a little bit of notice so that the books you need can be made available to you easily. Should you need to stay longer than the 30 minutes as you are using reference books which cannot be removed from The Library, we will find a way for you to do this, which may mean your using a part of the library not being used by anyone else, or ensuring that you are socially distanced. Again, protective gloves will be provided.

We are currently devising a plan by which those of you who are self-isolating can also borrow books. This is still in the development stage, but would mean that you could have books of your choice delivered to your door, or a lucky dip! We will let you know when these plans have been put in place so that you can have some quality reading material delivered to your door. We also have plans for a book review section to be added to the BMI website, so you could submit a book review to be read by all visitors to the site.

I understand that this seems very regimented, and not quite the Library experience that we are used to, but we live in curious times and must respond likewise. Above all, we want all of us to be safe, and for our books to be protected. We also want to see you again as soon as it is possible for you to come in. Look forward to seeing you, happy and well, and keep reading!

Samina Ansari
Honorary Librarian


It is always good to welcome new members and we hope to see an increase in membership over the coming months.  Why not introduce a friend by forwarding on this Newsletter to them.  It’s easy to become a member:

Become a Member Today

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