Friday, January 17, 2014

Jon Ratcliffe

Today is Jon Ratcliffe's last day behind the enquiry desk in Local Studies at Swindon Central Library as the busy department is reduced to one full time post and one part time.

Jon has worked with the Local Studies team for two years, one year volunteering and one year as a member of staff. He will be greatly missed by his colleagues and the many visitors to this fantastic archive who have benefited from his knowledge of local and family history research. His area of expertise has been the architecture of our town, both old and not so old and he has contributed some stunning photographs to the library online archive.

When the latest round of restructuring hit the library we were assured there would be no further cuts to front line staff. However, Local Studies has been hit under the guise of back room efficiencies. I for one am not convinced by this argument as the immediate impact is a reduction in the number of hours the enquiry desk will be able to open. Visitors needing help with their research projects will have to make an appointment; those who just pop in on the off chance will be unaware of the vast resources available to them - if only there were someone there to ask!

With the forthcoming First World War centenary fast approaching more and more people will be wanting to trace their family members who served. How do you begin that first step in your research? By visiting the Local Studies department of your local library.

While remaining staff members grapple with the logistics of continuing to provide the comprehensive service customers are used to, future planned events continue. There will be a schedule of talks and drop-in sessions with the Archivists from the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre while there will also be a new run of the free family history drop-in sessions facilitated by volunteers from the Wiltshire Family History Society. Other events include a talk exploring the tunnels of Swindon and events and projects relating to the Great War centenary.

Look out for the library strategy on and to have your say on future plans for all of Swindon's libraries email And keep up with events by reading The Link Magazine.

And goodbye and good luck to Jon in his new job. He assures us he will keep in touch.

Swindon Central Library, Regent Circus

The newly opened Local Studies department pictured in 2008.

From the archives - Local Studies, Central Library, Regent Circus

Type Swindon Central Library into Google search and enjoy a virtual tour of the building!

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