A 17-year-old student has made an impassioned protest after work on a sculpture centre started in Bury Library.

Austen Lowe, who is studying for his A-levels, says there has been a “massive difference” since work to create the centre began.

He says that the introduction of the sculpture centre, which has involved a re-organisation of the library’s ground floor layout, has created an environment which is not conducive to studying.

Austen, of Cheshire Court, Ramsbottom, frequently uses the library to take out books for his studies and to work there, and has now put his criticisms in a letter to council leader, Cllr Mike Connolly The teenager is studying German, geography and English language at Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar School, and says the new sculpture centre, which is due to open in May, has had a negative impact.

He said: “There has been a massive difference, two-thirds of the space has gone and we have been left with a tiny room to put all of the books in, which has got to stock the whole central library.

“They have had to put a lot of the books in storage, and some of the French reference books I use are not on the shelves anymore, because there is simply no space.

“Because a lot of the books are in storage, people have to request books rather than being able to look through and choose which one they want, which is the purpose of a library.

“They have created an environment in which I wouldn’t want to study. I can’t work in there because it is too stuffy and cramped.”

Cllr Jane Lewis, cabinet member for leisure, tourism and culture, said that due to funding cuts from central government “drastic changes are therefore unavoidable”.

She said: “The council consulted Bury's residents as to how they would prefer to see these cuts (totalling £810,000) made to the library service.

“To make the necessary cuts, the library space has been reduced, along with staff and resources at Bury Library. We therefore needed to seek a co-location in the space that was to be vacated.

“The stock at Bury Library has been reduced due to the re-organisation of the space with regard to setting up the new sculpture centre and for the implementation of the public self service equipment.

“This has been done via the usual stock management procedure, which means that books which are older, in poor condition, not issuing, etc, are withdrawn but we will also continue to purchase new stock and the inter-library loans service will also be available as usual.”

The sculpture centre has received £75,000 of investment from the council, and a grant of £27,000 from Arts Council England.