Oxfordshire’s libraries are “thriving – not just surviving”, according to Libraries Minister Michael Ellis.
The Northampton North MP was one of more than 100 guests to attend last week’s official opening of Oxfordshire County Library.
He toured the facility and spoke to staff and volunteers about the library’s transformation and wider network of 43 county branches.
Mr Ellis said: “This is a wonderful example of a library that is an integral part of the community here and I want to congratulate the county council, and all the staff, partners and volunteers for all the work they have done to rejuvenate this library.
“We want to see libraries thrive – not just survive –and this is an example of a library that is clearly thriving.
“This is a classic example of how to do it and protect our libraries, and they are still greatly valued by many people.”
His Dark Materials author Phillip Pullman was also left ‘very impressed’ by the revamped library, which has picked up more than 2,000 members since it re-opened its doors.
Mr Pullman called last year for a halt to the “shocking decline” in England’s school libraries. It is believed a quarter of schools have no librarian.
Oxfordshire county councillor Lorraine Lindsay-Gale, responsible for property, cultural and community services, emphasised the role the library would play in terms of access to council services.
She said: “This library is the hub that coordinates the services in a network of 43 libraries across the county.
“We want our libraries to be seen and used as dynamic focal points for the people they serve, bringing people together and helping to cement a true sense of place.”
She added: “I am proud of the fact that Oxfordshire has kept all its libraries open and this could not have been done without working in partnership with communities. The hard work and commitment of community groups has been instrumental and I need to thank them all.”
The updated £6million library stores 500,000 books and 70 public computers.