THE revamp of Oxford’s central library will be expanded to make it a ‘community hub’ thanks to a £2.1m cash boost.

As well as a new entrance, extra windows and a bigger children’s area, the library in the Westgate Shopping Centre will now receive a major refurbishment, better disabled facilities and improved wireless internet.

It comes after Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet pledged on Tuesday to increase the project’s budget from £1.5m to £3.6m.

Cabinet member for culture Lorraine Lindsay-Gale said it meant the flagship facility could make ‘a big return’ when it reopens in Autumn 2017.

It has been closed while the Westgate centre undergoes a separate £440m redevelopment, with a temporary library opened in the neighbouring Castle Quarter.

Mrs Lindsay-Gale added: “Our aim is to make libraries the focal point of services in our communities and the central library is obviously much bigger than all of our other libraries.

“The fact that a more widespread facelift is now going to happen makes us anticipate its return all the more.”

At the meeting this week, she said the new improvements would also mean council staff could ‘hot desk’ at the library or use it for meetings.

The Conservative-run council plans to keep libraries across the county open – after originally proposing to close many in 2010 – by moving some of its customer service advisers there and relying on volunteers to help run them.

But other senior councillors expressed “huge reservations” about the extra funding, questioning why the work had only just been suggested.

It has been partly funded by £1m from the Westgate developers, with the council providing the remaining £1.1m.

Cabinet member Judith Heathcoat said: “It almost seems to me we are uncertain about how we want to develop this library. I want it to be good, but this is a very large amount of money.”

Nick Carter and Melinda Tilley, two other senior councillors, also raised concerns.

But Mrs Lindsay-Gale stressed it was a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to revamp the library, adding: “We will keep a very close eye on the costs.”

She was backed up by council leader Ian Hudspeth and finance boss Lawrie Stratford.

Mr Stratford told fellow councillors: “I had concerns when this figure came up, but I would echo Lorraine’s comments.

“We need to make sure these facilities are first-class. I am disappointed these changes were not looked at sooner but am reluctantly happy to include them.”

Oxfordshire’s library service is due to make £1m of savings in the next four years, including a reduction to the book fund and the closure of mobile libraries.