As you enter the Genealogy Center, you will see a black, revolving display rack. From a distance, it looks filled with identical photocopied sheets, but a closer look reveals that each pocket carries a different sheet or packet with the name of a single state, country or region, or a general subject, such as Military, Passenger Lists, or Quaker. Each sheet contains a list of books in our collection that the Center’s librarians feel are important to that specific topic or location, organized in call number order. These lists aren’t meant to be bibliographies, but only guides.
The subject guides started out as lists of the material that was on the browsing shelves, back when most of the collection’s books were in closed stacks and had to be requested. These books were the ones that were most heavily used, or that staff members felt were important for our customers to locate and use easily. As we transitioned into our temporary quarters, then back into our renovated building, all of our collection became available for browsing, so these books were interfiled with the formerly “closed stack” collection. But we considered these books to be vital to their respective areas of research, so we quickly created lists by subject.
But these are not static lists. Staff members keep an eye on newly arrived volumes and sets to add to the lists, and occasionally, entries are removed as they become outdated. There are currently sixty guides, containing thousands of entries, so take one – or ten – the next time you visit.