A CENTRE dedicated to the county’s history is set to be rehoused in Oxford’s main library at the Westgate Shopping Centre.
The Oxfordshire History Centre and family history service is currently based at St Luke’s Church, in Temple Road, Cowley, but will be moved by October.
It will coincide with the Westgate’s reopening, with library bosses hoping it will lead to more visitors.
The history centre – ran by Oxfordshire County Council – was previously based at the library but was moved several years ago.
Lorraine Lindsay-Gale, the county council cabinet member for culture, said its return would be a further boost alongside a series of improvements already planned at the city centre library.
The library is temporarily located in the Castle Quarter while the £440m revamp of the Westgate takes place. As part of separate works, the council is also refurbishing the library.
Mrs Lindsay-Gale said: “The history centre’s move will free up space at St Luke’s that we can then use to relocate other services too.
“We are also exploring whether other organisations may also want to be based at the Westgate library, to further increase footfall.”
Under the plan, the county council said ‘the bulk’ of its public-facing services at St Luke’s would be moved.
This includes about 15 staff and a public cafe. Special storage facilities that keep artefacts and precious collections in the correct environment will stay at St Luke’s.
This includes photographs and printed material related to Oxfordshire and its history, spanning the 12th to 21st centuries.
The archive also contains court and hospital records, school log books, electoral registers, maps, newspapers and oral history collections.
Mrs Lindsay-Gale said the revamped library would include a cafe with free wi-fi and ‘hot desking’ facilities for county council staff.
The works are also set to include a new entrance, an expansion of the children’s library, refurbishment of the main library, new furniture and better disabled access.