What Resources Does Your Library Offer?
I’ve always had a deep love for libraries. Do you know how everyone carries around a set of beliefs which they use to operate in the world? Well, one of my beliefs is that the library has all the answers. And once again, the library has come through for me. I recently explored what my local library had to offer to assist with genealogical research.
Search the library catalog using “genealogy” or “family tree” as keywords. When I did this for “genealogy,” I found 150 items, such as:
- Genealogical histories for Georgia counties
- Land lottery listings
- A guide for African Americans to trace their roots
- Red Book – A reference book that lists the best genealogical resources by state
- Various books on finding your ancestors online
- A book by Denise Austin on shrinking your female fat zones (How did that get into the list? Turns out the book summary mentions the “genealogy of female fat.”)
- A guide to cemetery research
- Scrapbooking ideas for your family tree
Your library may also provide access to a wide variety of databases. When I searched these databases for “genealogy,” I found hundreds of articles, some scholarly, but some mainstream (Newsweek, Essence). And these aren’t old articles. The Newsweek article I saw mentioned the recent PBS special on tracing African American history.
When I spoke with the librarian, she said the library has microfiche readers. Using these, you can research newspapers that date back to 1868. You can also bring in your own microfiche and read it there.
I’ve saved the best for last. My helpful librarian also said that library card holders can search the Ancestry databases for free while at the library. (Ancestry.com databases are normally only available with a paid subscription, except for special promotions.) I can’t actually verify this further because it’s late and my library is closed, but I will let you know later when/if I’m able to log onto the system.
If you can’t find what you need at your library, ask about an inter-library loan or ask the library to order the item. My library allows you to request a book purchase and if it’s approved, they’ll let you be the first one to read it when it arrives!
Excuse me while I kiss my library card …
P.S. I checked PBS.org and found out that they are showing the PBS special "African American Lives" again on February 25th. Part 1 and Part 2 are shown in one night -- I think it'll run from 8 p.m. to 12 p.m. This time, I'm going to make sure to schedule a reminder about Part 2!