FOR 50 years, bookworms have been tucking themselves into a corner at Old Marston Library and discovering a lifelong love of books.

Now the library is inviting the next generation to get reading, as it marks its golden anniversary.

The library is just one of the many organisations across the county which is planning to get involved in the Oxford Mail-backed Oxfordshire Reading Campaign, which is aiming to improve literacy skills in the county’s youngest children and foster a love for reading.

Library manager Maria Ilett, who has been working in the county’s library service for 14 years, said: “The library is well-used and well-loved and it really showed on the day of our anniversary celebrations. We were absolutely packed.”

Between 100 and 200 people attended the event, which included music from Nick Cope, an illustration workshop and rhyme time for the under fives.

Miss Ilett said: “It is incredibly important to get children enthusiastic about reading young.

“One of the things we are really keen to do is rhyme time to catch the children from nought to five, just getting used to having stories read to them and, when they get a little bit older, joining in.”

The library invites in pupils from the local schools on a weekly basis.

Miss Ilett said: “You just feel tremendous satisfaction when you see someone getting into a book for the first time. I love seeing children using their imagination and coming up with ideas.”

The library is running a competition aiming to get children to thing about what the library might look like in 50 years’ time.

Miss Ilett said: “I love encouraging children in subjects they may not have picked up anywhere else. That is one of the things I enjoy most about the job.”

The library contacted former members of staff to invite them to attend the celebration – and despite its 50- year history, there were not too many of them, as most served for long periods at Old Marston.

The library has a children’s corner with toys and puzzles to help draw youngsters’ attention, and is small enough that young families can leave young children to enjoy books while they use a computer or browse books in another section.

Miss Ilett said: “At the anniversary it was lovely, absolutely buzzing.

“It was not only a thank-you to people who have used the library over the years, but also an introduction to show people what we have and what we can do with such a little space.”