This is the first post in a challenge series called “52 Weeks to Better Genealogy,” created by the fabulous Amy Coffin at WeTree.
Go to your local public library branch. Make a note of the genealogy books in the collection that may help you gain research knowledge. Don’t forget to check the shelves in both the non-fiction section and the reference section. If you do not already have a library card, take the time to get one. If you have a genealogy blog, write about what you find in your library’s genealogy collection.
My library is a small, county library that is part of a three-county regional library system. I’m really proud of our genealogy collection.
In 2008, our library was the fortunate recipient of SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) funds, for expanding the building. The new genealogy wing almost doubled the size of the building. Near the end of the building project, the library also received a very, very, generous donation from a former Murray County resident for the purpose of purchasing furnishings and genealogy materials for the new wing, which has been dubbed the Anderson & Anderson History Room, after the donor’s ancestors. We had a good genealogy center and collection before, but the additional space and new materials have created a wonderful place to do genealogy research.
As you can see, it’s quite a spacious facility, with room for growth. There are plenty of workspaces, wireless internet, a microfilm reader, and lots of books.
I did a quick search of the online catalog and learned that there are 351 items in “Special Collections” and another 63 items in “Special Collections – Reference.” Most of these books are related to genealogy or history. I don’t think the new books that have been purchased with the above donation are cataloged yet; when they are added, this will be a really impressive collection for our small library.
Some of the books I’ve consulted include county histories, marriage record indices, military histories, and more. Here is a short list of items that I have earmarked to look at in the future.
In addition to books and periodicals, the library has local newspapers on microfilm dating back to the late 1800s. I’m not sure if they have subscriptions to Ancestry.com or any of the other subscription genealogy sites; I have access to those at home and prefer to spend my limited time at the library using other resources.
One of the things that makes the genealogy wing special is the numerous historical photos of local residents that line the room. Many of my ancestors are represented in these photos.
I have to give props to the library’s branch manager, Pat Ausmus. Without her hard work and dedication to local history, the genealogy collection would not exist as it does today.