Public Libraries manage to provide the best of service to all in their community regardless of age. When you think about that it truely is amazing!
With story time and books for children of all ages, gaming nights and research helps for the older school age groups, internet access, books, CDs, DVDs, audio books and magazines for all ages as well as online databases which can be accessed from home and the library, communities throughout the world are very fortunate to have these usually free resources available most days.
The historical value alone is usually more than most would realize and that does not include the amazing assistance one can receive from the expert librarians and sometimes 'historians' who work there. Collections of records pertaining to the area are often in a library. Some libraries maintain city directories going back to 1850 and/or telephone books to help in locating where someone may have lived in a specific year.
Depending on the size of the library and its budget will determine what kind of genealogical and family history records are there. Many times local families that helped to settle the area donate their family histories which can include other friends and family members who also lived in that location. Perhaps there is a history behind the house you are living in, you may just find it in the library.
If there is an old photo section, one can see what the area looked like perhaps in the early 1800s or 1900s or even earlier. These kinds of resources can connect with other records of that time period. Funeral homes in the area will microfilm their records and often donate them to the local library.
Newspapers are another great resource for locating information and while many are now online and have their archives back to at least the 1990s, some libraries have the original microfilms of these newspapers which can go back to the start of the newspaper. These records contain not only obituaries but also upcoming events of the times, sometimes engagements or marriages and/or society announcements, there is no end to the value of these newspapers.
To add value to a libraries extensive collection, they usually have online databases that are accessed with a library card either in the library or at home. These databases are an additional great resource for genealogist, family historians and students of all ages. Some of the typical databases are:
HeritageQuestOnline: Coverage includes Census, Books, Persi, Revolutionar War, Freeman's Bank, etc.
Ancestry.com: (usually has only in library access) is a special library version
World Vital Records: Large number of valuable genealogical and family history databases
Digital Galleries: These kinds of collections could contain manuscripts, photos, historical maps, rare prints, etc. This kind of collection is dependent on the area.
Additional resources are varied according to the area and budgets. Recently the New York Public Library created a great video to encourage research at their library, it is entitled "NYPL Milstein Suspense Trailer" and very well done.
What is in your library to aid researchers? Let's get the word out about the wonderful resources...
Comments and Suggestions are always welcomed!
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