Meet the Staff!

aliensWhat is your name? Rhonda Dempsie

Where do you work? Across Swindon Libraries but am based at Central Library

What do you do? I am an Outreach Officer, so I promote library services to the community, encourage folk to join, organise events and activities, do publicity and social media, promote our stock, try to encourage folk to read for pleasure. For the past few years I have organised the Summer Reading Challenge. Basically I spend a lot of my time telling folk just how wonderful Swindon libraries are. If you haven’t been to a library for some time you really should pop in – you may be pleasantly surprised by what we have to offer.You can read  more about Outreach in Swindon on our blog post A Year in the Life.

At Swindon & Wiltshire PrideHow long have you worked for Swindon Libraries? Nearly 13 years! I started as a library assistant, then worked in various libraries on enquiry desks, including local studies, which I loved, before ending up in Outreach for the past 4 years.

When you were little what did you want to be when you grew up? I’m not sure I have ever grown up but when I was small I was quite a tomboy and really wanted to be a long distance lorry driver! When I hit my teens I fell in love with Duran Duran and wanted to become a music journalist so I could meet them! Then I wanted to be a translator and travel the world. Somehow I ended up doing a Pg Diploma in Library & Information Studies and ended up in libraries, in Swindon. I never did get to meet Duran Duran…

What did you do before you came here? I spent a good few years bringing up my family. I worked in Slough Central Library just before moving to Swindon.

What do you most enjoy about your job? Oh so many things! I love the wide variety of people I get to meet and challenging  stereotypes about librarians and libraries. I especially like working with children and encouraging them to talk about books and finding books that will interest them. Children can be a tough audience and you never know what they are going to do or say. I love the buzz after a class visit which has gone really well and seeing the enjoyment on the children’s faces when they have had a fun time too, especially the ones who have never been to the library before. I love organising events for schools too.

John Kirk performance of Private Peaceful.

John Kirk performance of Private Peaceful.

List three facts about yourself that might surprise people?

1) I can eat and breath fire!
2) I’m getting on a bit now but I really love music and still go to festivals – I like really loud noisy metal music and that generally surprises young and old as I don’t look like I would when I am at work!
3) Now I am an adult I’d secretly really rather be a pirate – well maybe that fact wouldn’t surprise my colleagues – yarrr!

What’s the most exciting thing you have ever done?
I’m probably the bravest coward I know. I spent a few years trying to overcome my fear of heights by doing things like rock climbing, paragliding and abseiling. The most exciting thing I did to try to overcome this fear was doing a skydive for charity. It was terrifying. I am still afraid of heights….

skydiveStrangest request while working? I have to give a dull answer here and say I haven’t really had a stand out strange request but noticed times (generally around Hallowe’en) when totally unrelated folk would come in over a period of a few weeks convinced their house must be  built on an old convent or monastery and looking for evidence.
Children can ask some odd questions when they visit the library but the one that stands out was a child gleefully asking if anyone had “got proper squished” in our rolling stacks of books. There have been a few close calls, but I had to disappoint them by admitting no one had ever got “proper squished” ..


Strangest ‘customers’…not sure they liked my book choice….

Favourite book? I’ll probably get slated but although I read across a wide range of genres, love graphic novels, and Neil Gaiman is a bit of a hero to me, my all time favourite book is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have read it. Sorry, not sorry haha!

Favourite film? Muppet Christmas Carol – love it. My family are sick of it but it just isn’t Christmas until I’ve watched the muppets.

Favourite album? I tend to have a favourite album for a while and then move onto something new, but an album I have never ever grown tired of has to be Nirvana ‘Nevermind’. It blew me away from the first time I heard it.