AN investment of around £1m is being pumped into Barrow Library to create a new, first-floor area.

Cumbria County Council is investing the cash into the Ramsden Square facility and hopes to unveil the new first floor community hub by December 2019.

The upgrade will no doubt be welcomed by community groups who will be able to use the newly-created space not least because it comes at a time when local authorities are cutting costs.

The library's ground floor was refurbished in 2014 but bosses highlighted the "significant underused space upstairs".

In renovating the first floor, contractors will install fire escapes, upgrade the lift for disability access, and open up the archive and studies centre.

Baby changing facilities will be added along with more public toilets.

The plans state: "Barrow Library is a well-used community resource open to all and already attracts many community groups currently using its meeting spaces.

"The scheme will improve the flexibility of the building to allow a better experience for these groups and also the many library and archive events which currently run in Barrow Library building."

The Grade II listed Beaux-Arts style library building was first opened in 1922 and is one of six principle libraries in Cumbria.

Deborah Earl, the council's cabinet member for community services, said the authority had attempted to avoid closing or downgrading its libraries as part of cost-cutting.

“Cumbria County Council is committed to libraries," she said.

"They are about more than books. They are community hubs providing access to a huge range of resources, experiences and learning.

"Like all council services, government cuts have put financial pressure on libraries. The council has made every effort to manage this without affecting the service the public receives.

"This has been successful and Cumbria has avoided the wholesale closures of libraries that have occurred elsewhere in the country.”