IT WAS celebrations all round at a thriving community library rescued from the funding axe by volunteers one year ago.

Users, staff and councillors yesterday celebrated outside Walcot Library, in Somerville Road, with bubbly, bargains and a whole lot of books.

Councillor Peter Mallinson (Con, Walcot), who many consider the library’s saviour, yesterday basked in the glory of it all reporting that users, grants, and funds were all up from last year.

“There are always going to be risks when you pioneer a new idea,” he said. “And that’s what we have done here.

“This is my full-time job and the business model is that our profits pay for cleaning, lighting, heating and insurance – the rest is given out to the community.

“We have people joining the library after visiting the shop and library users shopping more – it is really win-win.”

The library came under scrutiny last year when Swindon Council announced that it, along with Old Town and Even Swindon library, would be axed under belt-tightening measures.

It caused outrage in many parts of the community with campaigners arguing against the “looming threat to Swindon and national libraries.”

However, others took a different approach arguing that money could be made by allowing volunteers to run the library and moving the community charity shops into library buildings.

In Walcot people can do their shopping, borrow books, work on computers, get free tea, coffee and biscuits and have a chat all in one visit.

One proud dad who managed to purchase a play fort for his son’s birthday said the library and shop have been a huge help to those “without much money”.

Tony Wozencroft, 38, from Walcot, said: “I bought this entire thing for £1.

“My son is going to be excited for his birthday; the library and the shop have been tremendously useful.”

Meanwhile a library user, Martin Riley, who uses the facilities twice a week, said: “It is far more social now, I come here to have a chat with neighbours, get out books and sometimes for a drink.”

So far community shop grants, which have totalled £3,000 since December, have been given to Mountford Manor Primary School’s breakfast club, the women’s refuge, Guides and Scouts.

Two sheltered accommodations have also been given £400 worth of biscuits.

And while other community venues around Swindon, including the Walcot Dome and the Freshbrook Community Centre, are struggling “business is booming” at the Walcot Library.

In fact it has been so successful over the past few month that the overspill from the library’s charity shop has moved back into the shop it left last year, when it first moved to the library.