A REVAMPED library fit for the 21st century has reopened its doors in Oxford – but despite the technological advancements, books are still the star attraction.

The Oxfordshire County Library was declared open yesterday after an 18-month renovation and forms a major part of the Westgate Centre’s redevelopment.

Oxfordshire County Council staff worked for about a month to transfer books into the transformed building from its temporary home in the Oxford Castle Quarter.

The temporary library had about 20,000 books, a mere fraction of the 500,000 books now up for grabs in the county library.

It has also got 70 computers, 20 more than it had before it closed for its renovation.

The project has cost nearly £6m – with Oxfordshire County Council providing £3.6m and the Westgate Centre’s developers handing over about £2m for the work.

The Oxford Times: The reopening of Oxford Central Library was marked by a ribbon cutting, performed by the chairman of Oxfordshire County Council, Zoe Patrick. Pic by Jon Lewis.

Cutting-edge kit on offer at the library includes a 3D printer and Raspberry Pi computers, which are available in the library’s Makerspace room. Provisionally the 3D printer will be free to use for people to design and make their own creations.

Before the city’s Central Library closed for the Westgate Centre’s renovation in 2015, it was the third busiest in the country – and its manager hopes the latest version will prove just as popular.

Jane Mason, operations manager, said: “It’s a relief because we are back doing normal work. There has been a lot of heaving over the past four weeks. You might lift a box of books at home – if you’re moving 100,000 books, that’s a lot of work.”

She added: “It’s part of bringing the extraordinary into here so us normal people can experience it.

“Before, this library brought an average of 2,000 people in a day. Sometimes it was 3,000 on a Saturday. That’s footfall that some shops could only dream of.

“This is a community thing in a shopping environment and I think it gives a really good balance to what the city offers.”

The Oxford Times: The reopening of Oxford Central Library was marked by a ribbon cutting, performed by the chairman of Oxfordshire County Council, Zoe Patrick. Pic by Jon Lewis.

The children’s library has been extended and refurbished, while community groups run by staff and volunteers will be starting for the first time over the next few weeks.

Da Weo Jeong, from Oxford, was impressed by the new layout. She said: “It looks amazing. I live in Summertown and use the library there too. It [the Central Library] is very easy to use.”

Councillor Lindsay-Gale, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for cultural services, said: “We’re hoping to sign up as many new members as possible and bring Christmas cheer to our very first visitors.”

The library was officially reopened by council chairman Zoe Patrick, while music was provided by the county council music service’s string quartet. The city council and county councils’ staff choir also performed.