RAY Cooper is a self-confessed bookworm.

He has never got rid of a book he has owned in more than 60 years and has around 250 stashed away at his home in Bockings Elm.

Ray has been using Clacton library since he was 14 years old still and has continued visiting the service on Station Road ever since it replaced the old library in the nearby town tall 50 years ago this month.

He is one of the library’s longest-standing users and has fond memories of his time spent there.

To this day he attends about four times a week and is often found in the cafe enjoying a cup of tea with his sister.

Mr Cooper, 74, said: “I’ve been using Essex libraries since I was about 14 years old.

“I remember it as the old library, but you don’t get told to be quiet as much in this one – there’s a lot less ‘shushing’.

“I used to go to the library a lot after school and read the history books. I used to just sit by myself and read when I was really little.”

Ray was born in Clacton back in 1943 and he reminisces about the library’s old site and how the technology and book collections have changed over the years.

“You were only allowed to take out three books at a time and you had to stamp them yourselves to be able to loan them out,” he said.

“If we didn’t take them back we would get a fine but we were only able to have the books a couple of days a week.

“There were just shelves upon shelves that were stacked really high up. It’s not like that now – it’s all low and bright.

“I was and still am a total bookworm.

“I love the History section – there’s just nothing like having a copy of a book in your hand.”

Last week members gathered together to celebrate the library’s birthday which marks 50 years of its move from the town hall.

They also marked the 10th birthday of the Book Rest Café which employs and trains adults with learning difficulties.

“I’ve always been in the library, whether it’s for a book or to look something up on the computer,” said Ray.

“It’s always been a public place where people come and meet for a natter, and they’ve got such a good selection of books for the children so a family can go in there too.”

County council libraries boss Susan Barker said it was a fantastic milestone for Clacton Library and the Bookrest Cafe.

She said: “Our services at Clacton are a wonderful example of how we are workingto make libraries hubs for their communities, places where people can get together, as well as accessing books, groups and all the other activities libraries offer.”

Ray added: “Everyone has Kindle these days but I don’t use mine – I want to read a proper book."