A new library would not have been built without a "very rare" joint venture between a council and education institutions, it has been claimed.
The £27m Forum in Southend will be open to the public on Monday.
The joint public and academic library has been jointly funded by South Essex College, the University of Essex and Southend Borough Council.
Crime novelist Martina Cole said: "It is absolutely fantastic. Inside the library it is brilliant."
The library will house both books and other material for the general public as well as access to about one million academic works, including books and journals.
Angela O'Donoghue, principal and chief executive at South Essex College, said: "It is a very unusual arrangement because it is a tripartite arrangement. It is a joint venture, which is very rare.
"We've worked together as a really good team. This would not have been done without that partnership."