PUPILS at an Abingdon school were visited by a famous author to mark the unveiling of a £6m library.

Best-selling novelist Robert Harris visited St Helen and St Katharine School, Abingdon, last Wednesday to celebrate the opening of the library.

The three-storey library building features a lecture theatre and two IT suites.

Mr Harris, who wrote international bestseller Pompeii and has a daughter at the school, said: “I think the building is absolutely stunning and one of the most attractive libraries I think I’ve seen.

“It’s beautifully designed and has a wonderful atmosphere. It really helps move the school into a different league.”

Librarian Donna Pocock Bell said library loans had doubled since it opened.

She said: “It gives the girls a fantastic and inspiring working environment.

“Because the library is much bigger than the old one, we can display all the items we had in storage and the children have more space to work, or read for pleasure.

“Since we’ve opened, a lot more girls have wanted to use the library.”

The building has been named the Jean Duffield Library, after a former history teacher and governor, who served the school for more than 40 years.

It was funded by her son, John, who lives at Marcham, and her granddaughter, Arabella, cut a ribbon at its opening.

Pupils tucked into a special cake, which took three weeks to design. And the school’s 630 pupils were each baked a cupcake.

Twelve-year-old Chloe Taylor, from Abingdon, said: “I think the new library is great because there are so many books. I like all sorts of books and love to read, and this means I will definitely be coming to the library more often.”

Nine-year-old Eliza England, from Wantage, said: “The library is much better and a lot more exciting.

“It’s more interesting because of the layout. I’ve spent more time in the library since it opened.”

Local authors David Melling and Mary Hooper also visited the pupils to talk to them about their jobs.

Mr Melling, from Abingdon,who is also an illustrator, said: “The building is absolutely stunning and the children love it.”