BEST-SELLING author Beryl Kingston was among the book lovers who celebrated Willowhale Library’s latest anniversary.
Just over 320 supporters filled the Pryors Lane building on Monday to mark 40 years since it opened.
Aldwick resident Beryl, whose works include Gemma’s Journey and Maggie’s Boy, said: “Libraries like this are absolutely invaluable.
“Books open eyes and provide facts, often facts which politicians don’t want you to have and we certainly need that.
“I would hate to see libraries like this close. It would be an immense loss. They are the centre of the community.”
She has used the library since 1987 when she moved into the area and joined Bognor Regis Library in 1939.
The party, complete with birthday cake and a concert by the Rose Green Junior School choir, was held a day after the library’s original opening on January 11 .
Its continued popularity is shown by the fact its users borrowed 89,865 items in the year to last March. The library has four part-time staff and seven volunteers. Several helpers also run its service for housebound readers.
Among those who benefit from the library are regular visitors Douglas Armour, 87, and his wife, Ann, 79, of Old Place.
Mr Armour said: “This library is absolutely vital to us. We would be lost without it. We have been regulars for about 30 years.
“We come here every week. It’s a lovely library with very good staff.”
The couple take out six to eight books a time about subjects ranging from crime stories and thrillers to Jane Austen and biographies from its stock of 14,000 books.
“If this library closed, we would be in trouble,” said Mr Armour.
West Sussex County Council group librarian Pam O’Brien is one of the library’s joint managers. She said: “I’m sure the future for libraries like Willowhale is good. It has a loyal membership of people who love coming in and it’s part of the community. That’s what we are looking for from libraries.
“This library is a good source of books for pleasure but also for information. It gives people the chance to use computers for leisure and information.”