Friday, January 8, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy - Week 1

While I'm not quite back into the "swing of things" around here (here being the blogging world), I've been very interested in the 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy challenge series that I understand is being written by a Brilliant Princess and hosted by GeneaBloggers. Thanks to the Princess and Thomas for their wonderful idea and yet another great theme to keep us all sharp!

This week's challenge reads "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."

Let me start by saying that I live in a fairly rural area, or at least when I moved here 8 years ago it was "rural", we're now an up and coming mini Vegas (which has made me consider moving, but that's another story). I didn't expect much of our local libraries. One was in what I would call a building the size of a 7-11, the other in our historic area downtown in a very small building, only 4 computers and a museum in it's basement. I didn't expect to find much at the 7-11 library and there were little more than a few books on any given topic - no genealogy area, and very few books on the subject.

The downtown location on my first visit was a bit busy for the two ladies working and I didn't bother them since I had a 4-year-old with me and I was just exploring. There were many books on West Virginia and even many on local history and local families. Not a lot to be desired on the actual subject of genealogy, but I didn't spend much time and it was my first visit. After returning home I realized from my little imformation pamphlet that I could access their catalog on line and explore some subjects and do a bit of searching on my own which I did, and I was very surprised to see that there were many books for our neighboring states and they appeared to have a very large collection of books that may contain information related to my research.. this place deserved another visit.

I went back on a week day, with no "helpers" and asked about the seemingly special collection of books I had seen on line and wouldn't you know it - they had a seperate research room. I never even knew that it was there and didn't bother to ask on my first visit. I had to turn over my phone, camera and drivers license to enter, sign a paper stating that I wouldn't destroy anything and I was in! She got out the key, walked to a door in the corner and opened it... I had one of those "Ahhhhhh" moments, you know, when the choirs sing. I expected a small area with a few tables and chairs, but no.. this place was about half the size of the entire outer area of the library, dimly lit with nice lamps, leather chairs and 6 large conference tables. I was stunned when she opened the door and there were shelves to the ceiling and all packed with glorious books and I was the only one there!

Unfortunately, I had to be back home in an hour so I will obviously have to return again and next time I'll be well prepared with knowledge of what books I wish to view and I'll make sure I've got more than an hour. Even if my family wasn't from this area, I could and did find some records among the volumes they hold. It paid to visit my local library, even if we weren't "locals".


  1. The last two sentences of your post were the exact reason I wrote this challenge. Thank you for sharing a bit about your local library.

  2. I've awarded you the "Happy 101 Award" You can pick it up at Genealogy Fun.

  3. Exploring a library with a 4 year old in tow?
    We're going to have to invent a special badge for you!!!
    Evelyn in Montreal