Free subject guides

January 9, 2010

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keep an eye on newly arrived volumes and sets to add to the lists, and occasionally, entries are removed as they become outdated.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.


New Years Tip

December 30, 2009

Are you prepared for the New Year? It’s hard to believe the calendar will soon turn over to 2010. After celebrating, take time to prepare a list of genealogy goals for the next year. Plan out your research projects, schedule a trip to a conference or family reunion, or sign up to volunteer for the many genealogy society and library activities in your area. Whatever your strategy for 2010, make sure to include genealogy in your plans.

As the family gathers….

December 22, 2009

Whatever holiday traditions your family follows at this time of year, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s, or just school holidays spent at an amusement park, chances are that you will see family members in the next week or two, and be reminded of fond memories. Take a few minutes from decorating cookies and watching football to ask an older relative to share a memory of holiday customs of his or her youth, or the recollection of some significant event in his or her life. And really listen to the story, making it part of your own history, perhaps even writing it down, noting who told the story. Next year, that person may not be able to impart this little slice of history, and a golden opportunity will be lost.

At the same time, if you are the older relative, take a few minutes to think of something to impart that would provide insight into your life and that of your ancestors. Because not everyone will think to ask for your recollections, take a few minutes to record your knowledge, either on tape or digitally, via a scrapbook or the written word, and provide copies for relatives, challenging them, even children, to do the same next year. It’s never too late – or too early – to record your family’s history.