Three construction firms have been short-listed to build a new £193m library in Birmingham city centre.
Carillion, Laing O'Rouke and Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd will be asked to submit a tender by 1 August to construct the new building in Centenary Square.
Birmingham City Council leader Mike Whitby said it wanted the library to be among the world's "finest and user-friendly civic buildings".
The winning firm is expected to be announced by the end of the year.
The council wants the new library to open in 2013.
It will replace Central Library, once described by Prince Charles as looking like "a place where books are incinerated, not kept".
It will be paid for by a combination of borrowing and cash raised from land sales.
The new building will integrate the Birmingham Repertory Theatre (REP), and create a new cultural centre.
Stuart Rogers, executive director of the REP, said that all three construction firms "boast impressive track records building truly iconic landmark developments".
The council is also recruiting a design team which will work with the construction team.