Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sign Up For Prop. 1 Email Updates

On June 5, 2012, the voters of Poplar Bluff passed overwhelmingly Prop1--a 1/4 cent sales tax for the operation of the Poplar Bluff Public Library.  The Library Board of Trustees and library staff are now in the process of making "good" on those promises made to voters.  Sign up for Prop1 Infoline to stay on top of the latest changes and updates at the Library.

The new funding will allow the library to expand services and offerings, including:
  • Offer library cards to area residents at no charge.
  • Double the library’s book budget.
  • Open the library on Sunday afternoons.
  • Allow the library to continue offering computer classes, Tech Talks and more.
To help users stay on top of the changes coming, Poplar Bluff Public Library is releasing the Prop1 Infoline, an e-mail service dedicated to keeping interested parties up to date about the expansions brought on by the additional funding through Proposition 1.
Sign up for the Prop1 Infoline here:

You can also find Poplar Bluff Public Library on Facebook.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

1930 Butler County, Missouri Plat Book

Genealogists are well aware that just because something is old, it's still useful, even if it's an old Plat Book. The Missouri Digital Heritage Collection, part of the Missouri State Archives and Missouri State Library online databases under the Missouri Secretary of State's Office, has many digitized publications ready to reveal secrets and insights into the lives of past Missourians and their communities.
Today I want to draw attention to the 1930 Butler County, Missouri Plat Book available online.  This is a great resource to see who owned land and where at.  If you have land descriptions from deed records of relatives, this will be a great help in visualizing where that they were located.  The library owns various copies of Plat Maps from the 1970's through the present day.  These could be useful in determining how land was divided up or what areas have stayed in the same family for generations.  Using features on an old Plat Map, such as waterways or railroads, could be helpful in finding a location on a more familiar county road map to visit an old homestead.

Being aware of how items are described in one online library catalog, can translate into successful searching of the catalogs of other libraries. (Caveat: This is dependent on the library using standardized cataloging techniques though! Akin to genealogists properly citing their sources.)  This item has the following subject headings:
  • Butler County (Mo.) - Maps
  • Real Property - Missouri - Butler County - Maps
  • Landowners - Missouri - Butler County - Maps
Using these terms, along with changing the state and county names as needed, will help you quickly locate potentially useful items in other libraries for various locations.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Make the most of your visit - Genealogists and the Public Library

Today's posting is from a handout created by the library's very own Erin Rigby for use in a presentation to help make the most of your library visits.  Take it away Erin!

Genealogists and the Public Library

Preparing to go…
  • Make sure you have a specific research goal. Narrow it down to things like a birth date, the next generation or all the children for a family. 
  • In addition to your specific research goal, have dates or a date range. Doing so will make it easier for the librarian to get you the resources you need.
  • Find out what resources the library has before you go. Almost all libraries have an online catalog. They may also have a website promoting their genealogy resources including ones that may not be cataloged.
  • Bring all your information about the specific people you are looking for. 
Arriving at the Library…
  • First-timers at the library should ask for a short orientation or tour of their genealogy section. Let them show you what they have- they may have a few surprises. If you've been there before, ask about new resources.
  • Be sure to find out where the resources specific to your locality are located.
How to ask a librarian a genealogy question…
  • The most important thing you can do is to be specific while being as concise as possible. 
  • Avoid the nebulous “I’m looking for any information you have on my ancestors.” 
  • Keep your questions pertinent to your research goal. Something like “I am looking for a death date for someone in Minnesota, probably between 1880 and 1900” instead of “They came here from Norway in 1845 and had a rough crossing… lost two children! Then they got to Minnesota… What I want to know is when they died…”
Things to remember about librarians…
  • Be accepting of librarians who don’t know much about genealogy, especially in small libraries. Be prepared to be self-sufficient. You never know if you have the local genealogy expert or the children’s librarian staffing the reference desk.
  • Librarians are extraordinarily willing to help, but they are usually strapped for time.
  • Most libraries have some kind of research service. If you provide specific information they will look it up for you, but usually at a price.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Quick Tip - Business Cards for Genealogy

I love learning about a new way to help further family research.  This week I had the opportunity to meet and help an out of town couple visiting the library.  I'm accustomed to giving out my business cards to patrons to contact me if they need future help but this encounter had a unique twist to it.  They've had their own "business" cards printed with the surnames they are researching, along with their contact information.  I think this is a marvelous idea!  They're easy to carry around and relatively cheap to have printed.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

PB Makes History for Library Funding in MO

THANK YOU to the voters of Poplar Bluff for making this library truly unique and allowing us to be on the cutting edge!  We are the first library in Missouri to transition from property tax support to being funded by a sales tax.  The old saying "it takes an act of Congress" certainly applies here.  In this case, it took the Missouri State Legislature and the signature of the Governor to allow this to even be voted on.

The future of the library looks very bright and the Library Board has many choices to make on how the timeline of the changes to be made unfold.  Their next meeting will be July 2, at 4 PM in the Conference Room and, as always, the public is welcome to attend.  Stop in for it and watch out future start to take shape!

Below is an article from the Daily American Republic with additional details.  Thanks again to everyone that made this possible!!

Library sales tax passes
A milestone for Missouri
By DAVID SILVERBERG Associate Editor
  The Poplar Bluff Public Library will become the first one in Missouri to be funded with sales tax revenue.
Library personnel, board members and supporters celebrated when Butler County Clerk Tonyi Deffendall announced the results of Tuesday’s special election.  
Poplar Bluff voters approved a one-fourth cent sales tax for the library by a vote of 421 to 145.
Now the library board will eliminate the city property tax for the library, a city subsidy of approximately $80,000 annually and the $35 library card fee for area residents living outside of Poplar Bluff.
City residents had been paying $14 in property taxes per each $10,000 of valuation. When collection of the additional one-fourth cent sales tax begins in October, everyone who spends $100 in Poplar Bluff will pay 25 cents for the library sales tax.
“I’m speechless!” was the first reaction from Jackie Thomas, the very happy library director.
A library staff member told Thomas, “Now you can sleep.”
“Poplar Bluff continues to impress me. I arrived 15 years ago and I have been on a high since then,” Thomas said. “This has been a dream so long. Now it is a reality. Now we will do what we planned to do.”
Thomas said the library will now have sufficient funds to expands its hours, be open on Sunday afternoon, have additional “virtual library” locations and “Wi-Fi” access points, double the book budget, have access to more computers, build a teacher curriculum collection, add bookmobile service, develop more outreach programs for children and adults and continue to offer computer classes and Tech Talks.
The library’s current revenues of nearly $500,000 are expected to double with the sales tax revenue.  
“I’m elated the voters of Poplar Bluff once again recognized the importance of supporting the future of the public library,” said John Stanard, a library board member for 18 years. “We are proud of our library. This is a landmark decision for ongoing success of that fine institution.”
Stanard noted the library and community will benefit from this sales tax revenue just as it has from the sales taxes for the Poplar Bluff Parks Department and the Highway 67 four-laning project.
Library board members worked for three years to convince the state legislature to allow libraries to have a vote on a proposed sales tax.
With the help of state Rep. Todd Richardson and state Sen. Rob Mayer, a bill was passed to allow libraries only in Senate District 25 to have a sales tax vote.
Missouri State Librarian Margaret Conroy described Poplar Bluff as being “the icebreaker” for being the first library in the state to pass a library sales tax.
“The Missouri State Library is very pleased for Poplar Bluff and its citizens for supporting the sales tax,” Conroy said. “We are proud of Jackie Thomas. She has worked very hard to provide adequate funding for the library.” Conroy noted the Missouri Library Association will be working on legislation to allow voting on a library sales tax statewide. “We are interested to see how this plays out and the implications for the rest of the state,” Conroy said.
Only 566 or 6.1 percent of the 9,310 active registered voters in Poplar Bluff cast ballots. “We had library patrons networking to get out the vote,” Thomas said. The votes by polling place were:
Ward 1 — 33 to 13.
Ward 2 — 116 to 33.
Ward 3 — 36 to 8.
Ward 4 — 135 to 42.
Ward 5 — 57 to 12.
Absentees — 44 to 37. 
Used with permission. (c) Daily American Republic, June 6, 2012. Vol. 144, No. 122. Pages 1 & 2.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Cemetery Math - Date of Birth Calculator

Aged 51 Yrs, 2 Mos, & 26 Days
Who in the world came up with placing only a date of death on a headstone followed by "Aged X Years, Y Months, Z Days"? (See photo example.)  If "normal" math scares you, this is truly a nightmare when it comes to trying to figure out a date of birth by subtracting months, days, and years!  If they could figure out that information, they must have known the date of birth to start with.  It would seem logical to use the date of birth and death as we're accustomed to seeing today, especially on older stones when literacy rates and mathematical skills were likely to be less than proficient.  Even today, who is carrying around scratchpads to work on deciphering the dates?  This is one fad I'm glad that's over!

Well, I have found a wonderful way to help easily solve this mathematical problem. has a great tool that is easy to use for this very purpose, appropriately named the Birth Date Calculator.  One of the best features about it is it's FREE!

Approximating the date of birth is possible but I am always leery of possible errors that can creep in.  For example, some stones were not erected for months or maybe even until years after death.  Memory doesn't always prove to be accurate when the time comes to actually place the stone.  I hope everyone finds this tool useful in their research!