‘Substantial upgrades’ of £750,000 to Ipswich County Library are being eyed by library bosses.

The library service has lodged an expression of interest with Arts Council England’s capital investment programme for the six figure sum, which centres around providing additional facilities and technology at the library, as well as public space improvements.

The expression of an interest is at an early stage, with Suffolk Libraries waiting to find out if it has been accepted to the formal bid stage.

It comes after a £5million pot of money was announced by the Government in the autumn budget for library services, although details on that have not yet been published and are likely to be significantly smaller than any Arts Council grants.

Bruce Leeke, chief executive of Suffolk Libraries, said: “Our proposed bid would provide additional facilities and technology at Ipswich County Library and include substantial improvements to the public space to improve enhancing the experience for all visitors.

“The budget announcement also included a pledge to provide extra funding to ‘renovate, restore and revive’ libraries as part of the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda. We welcome this announcement and are currently awaiting details of how much money might be available to improve the library service in Suffolk.”

Suffolk County Council will be supporting the library with any bid options.

Mr Leeke said: “Libraries should be the first place for any co-ordinated effort to improve the literacy, wellbeing and economic prospects of our communities.

“They provide a unique space where everybody can enjoy free services that have a direct effect on life outcomes and as a result are perfectly placed to support local and national initiatives.

“That could be through free internet access, getting information about jobs and benefits, borrowing a great book, attending a pre-school or perinatal session or just socialising in a rural setting.”

The library service has proved a lifeline to some families during the Covid-19 pandemic, which included calls to older and isolated people, a laptop lending scheme and a series of online activities and events.

The Ipswich County Library plans mark the latest in a series of upgrades across the service. Mildenhall Library moved into the new public services hub built off Sheldrick Way in June, before the new Saxmundham Library opened a few weeks later.