BEST-SELLING author Joanna Trollope officially launched Lechlade Library this week after campaigning residents saved it from closure.

The facility looked doomed when Gloucestershire County Council announced last year it was cutting funding for libraries across the county. The decision sparked a furious campaign in communities across the district and the fight gained high profile when the Gloucestershire-born author became involved.

In Lechlade an army of volunteers was formed to take over the library last November.

Cllr Sue Coakley spearheaded the fight but paid tribute to the 30 volunteers who she said was helping the library go from strength to strength.

It now boasts six computers, a local information area for residents and a well-used visitor information centre which is also run by the volunteers.

"What's lovely is that they are all local people and they are so proud to talk about the town and the area to visitors," Cllr Coakley said. "It's becoming a bit of a hub for the community."

There was more good news at the official launch when Cllr Coakley announced that, due to popular demand, the library was increasing its opening hours to include Monday afternoons and Saturday mornings.

Speaking after the launch, Joanna Trollope described what had happened in the town as a "glowing example of community".

"This particular library is on the route back from the primary school. They are the readers of the future in an age where 20 per cent of the population leave school with a reading age of nine," she said. "Libraries are more important than ever. There is something about libraries because they contribute to the imaginative and intellectual life of a community and that's wonderful."

Cllr Coakley said as well as the six-strong committee, and band of volunteers, thanks were also due to Gloucestershire County Council which gives the enterprise £10,000 each year and upkeeps the building, Lechlade Town Council which gives annual grants of £6,000 and Cotswold District Council for waiving business rates.