Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Do You Have A Genealogy Section?


When I travel, I enjoy stopping at libraries and exploring their genealogy sections and collections.  Usually I go online first to determine if they have a web page and then find anything listed that pertains to genealogy or local history.  You can easily do this by going to Google and then entering the name and state where the library is located, along with the name or the library or just library.  Another place to look for libraries with web pages is at LibrarySpot.com.  

Using Internet is also a good way to determine the hours and location of a library before you get there.  If they don't have a web page, look to see if the town, village or city has a web page. Sometimes their library will be listed on that. 

Yesterday I was traveling and decided to visit a library that I had visited about five years ago. At that time they had a nice genealogy collection, not overly large, but with items that pertained to the genealogy and history of the area.  Sometimes small town libraries have genealogy items that will surprise you! 

The library building is new and modern.  There are labeled pendants above the various sections of the library, such as  Fiction, Young Adult, Non-Fiction, etc.  The shelving units had been turned a different way since my previous visit.  By looking at the pendants I saw a state history section.  Lots of interesting books were there, but nothing significantly genealogically related. 

Finally I asked.  What happened to your genealogy section?  The librarian pointed to about five books behind the desk.  Then at the state history section.  With more visiting, I did learn something else.  All of the genealogical correspondence addressed to the library, plus family materials, are filed in a filing cabinet in the library office.  Those are not listed on their web page and had I not asked, I would not have known of their existence. 

They do have microfilm of old newspapers and indexes of marriages and other vital records, which can be extremely helpful.  The librarian told me that all those other things no longer there were not useful to the genealogists.  She said people just want to read microfilm.  Who made that decision? 

If your library wants to dump their genealogy section, be sure you speak out about the value of the collection.  This can happen when library administration changes.  If the personnel are not interested in genealogy, the library may have a sparse to practically no collection.  Where those "no-longer useful" books went, I have no clue.  Perhaps they were sold at a book sale!  

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