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.

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