Hove library has been saved. City councillors say the building donated by Andrew Carnegie almost a century ago should stay as it is.

It was earmarked for alternative use because renovations to enable disabled access were deemed too expensive.

Its book collection was to have been transferred to the town hall, several hundred yards along Church Road.

But more than 4,000 people joined campaign group Friends of Hove Library, set up by writer Christopher Hawtree.

Some £350,000 will now be made available for improvements, including making as much of the building as possible suitable under the Disability Discrimination Act.

The library, which is a listed building, also needs some structural work carrying out.

Deputy council leader Sue John said an all-party working group had come up with three suggestions for the future of the library but all were too costly.

Instead, the council will concentrate on work needed to make the building comply with the Act, which will probably mean confining it to the first two floors.

Coun John said: "Many people are saying they are fond of the old Carnegie building. They may have to be prepared to live with a reduced service as we are in a tight financial situation."

Tory opposition leader Garry Peltzer Dunn welcomed the decision and said: "We must now have a degree of realism."

He added that the extensive Wolseley collection housed in the library could now go to Hove Museum.

Green councillor Bill Randall said: "I have always been opposed to moving the library and am pleased it will stay open. It must be adapted for disabled people.

"It was built as a library and should remain as one. It is a landmark building. This shows the power of public opinion."

Liberal Democrat group leader Paul Elgood said: "The strength of feeling over any move of Hove library is crystal clear.

"I have had many hundreds of letters, emails and phone calls pleading for the library to remain where it is.

"Improvements to disabled access can be made. I really do believe common sense has finally prevailed."

Mr Hawtree said: "Thousands will be delighted by the news.

"Their support for the Carnegie library, whose staff serve the community so well, has made itself felt. It is very heartening.

"We now want the library made as good as possible for everybody - a programme of work, perhaps over several years - and to ensure that the wonderful, nationally-renowned reference library is kept.

"All this would be in the spirit set by Andrew Carnegie. His name has been mentioned by so many people and, as a first step ahead of the library's centenary, we very much hope to thank him by putting up a brass plaque. Or perhaps that should be steel."

The sum set aside will provide a lift to the first floor and to a lavatory for the disabled and a lift to the basement.