Mike Marshman - 50 years of service
At the end of August 2016 Michael Marshman retired from his post as County Local Studies Librarian, marking an amazing 50 years working for Wiltshire Council.
Mike originally wanted to be an archaeologist but changed direction after visiting the county library whilst still at school in Trowbridge, his home town. He joined Wiltshire County Council on 1st August 1966 as an eighteen year old library assistant, at Trowbridge Library HQ, which at that time was in Prospect Place. In 1967 Mike was appointed a trainee librarian and undertook training at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth. He returned to Wiltshire to work and became Marlborough Mobile Librarian from 1970-1 followed by Melksham Town Librarian from 1971-1975. Mike has always prioritised working with the local community and while in Melksham he ran two Puffin Clubs for children, hosted or mounted monthly exhibitions and began giving talks on local history – something he has continued to this day! From 1975-1979 Mike became Town Librarian of Trowbridge, where he was one of the founders of Trowbridge Civic Society. Mike, a keen amateur photographer, carried out much important photography of Trowbridge. In 1979 the first of his eight books, Wiltshire Landscape, was published by Countryside Books. From 1979-1981 Mike became Trowbridge Area Librarian which expanded to include Warminster Area in 1981. From 1981-1988 Mike was Town Librarian of Warminster, setting up its new library, working with the local community and setting up, with Nicola Harris, Senior Assistant, a very successful programme of children’s activities. In Warminster Mike also began working with a certain Helen Taylor who will be well known to History Centre visitors! In 1988 Mike became Wiltshire County Local Studies Librarian, and immediately set to work promoting local history county-wide. He organised local history weeks including over 70 events in one year! He inaugurated ‘Wiltshire History Road Shows’ taking archivists and the Wiltshire Buildings Record staff out to communities. He established fiendish cryptic Wiltshire local history quizzes with sponsored prizes. Building on the work of his predecessor, John Chandler, he extended the Wiltshire Collection into the largest collection of published Wiltshire material in the world. Mike also established the Ephemera and Creative Wiltshire collections as sub-sets of the Wiltshire Collection. In 1998 Mike was one of only a hundred librarians nationwide to be awarded the Library Association Centenary Medal for ‘outstanding contribution to and achievement in library work’, presented by Princess Anne, no less, and in 2001 he won the national Dorothy McCulla Memorial Prize awarded by CILIP for his outstanding contribution to local studies work.
Mike has always been very much a forward-thinking and creative person and, recognizing the growing impact of the internet, he set up the Wiltshire Community History website in 2002, as a pioneering ‘one-stop-shop’ for local history. Mike has taken thousands of photographs of Wiltshire towns and villages, and, together with colleagues and volunteers, has written hundreds of pages of information about local places which are published free of charge on the website. At its peak the site received over 5 million page views a year and is still a well used and reliable source of information about our county, supplementing the more academic Victoria County History of Wiltshire.
From 2004 onwards Mike was involved in the planning and execution of the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, which opened to the public in 2007. He was responsible for moving the Wiltshire Collection from Trowbridge to Chippenham, and worked with colleagues to promote the History Centre to schools and community groups. He published a monthly ‘Intelligencer’ newsletter and continued to organise our programme of talks, workshops and his brainchild - the new Village Interpretation Days - right up till his retirement in August 2016. In recent years he became project manager of the exciting and innovative Creative Wiltshire project - https://creativewiltshire.com/ - which will continue till 2019. Mike may have retired but he continues to write regular articles for Wiltshire Life magazine, to edit the Wiltshire Local History Forum newsletter, and plans to write more books on Wiltshire’s history. He has an unsurpassed knowledge of Wiltshire’s history which he doesn’t keep to himself but strives to share with the world. He has inspired both colleagues and local history researchers alike to follow in his footsteps in writing about Wiltshire’s history, creating an enormous and invaluable legacy for future generations.
Mike, thank you for everything - we wish you all the very best for your retirement – and we look forward to welcoming you back to the History Centre as a volunteer!
Claire Skinner, Principal Archivist
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