Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Local Library: Part 2

One of my monthly goals earlier this year was to explore the local library to see what it had to offer that might be helpful in my genealogy research. My first step was exploring the library's website and online catalog, which I talked about in Part 1. With all the craziness this year, I never actually made it to the library, despite the fact I drive by it at least once a week.

Today, I finally made it to the library. I had about half an hour to kill between running errands and picking my daughter up so I decided to stop in at the library. After doing a little exploring, I'm definitely going to have to go back, especially since I didn't have my library card or any money for copies with me today.

Our library is set up kind of weird with sections scattered around the library instead of one single location and books categorized differently than the average person (or at least me) would expect. Both of the library catalog computers were taken so I decided to just start walking through the non-fiction sections to see if anything jumped out at me.

The first thing I came across was The Genealogist's Virtual Library: Full-text Books on the World Wide Web by Thomas Jay Kemp. It's a wonder I found the book since it was shelved with books on building websites rather than genealogy, but building websites and online databases is a new interest of mine so I stopped to look at those books and stumbled across Kemp's book.

As the title implies, the book lists locations of full text genealogy books that can be found online. The first part of the book has the books arranged by surnames. I checked a few of my surnames, but didn't have any success in finding any books that seemed like they would be helpful in my research. The second part of the book has the books arranged by location. I did find a few titles of interest and jotted down the URLs so I can check them out when I get a chance. Since most of the URLs are for genweb, Library of Congress and university websites, I'm assuming these are viewable for free.

I browsed through the remainder of that segment of non-fiction without finding any other books of interest. I wandered around for a minute before finding another segment of non-fiction, this one apparently devoted to maps. I didn't spend much time here, but did notice that they have both current and historical maps, including a large book for Europe. I definitely want to take a closer look at the European map because my husband's paternal line comes from what was once the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which was broken up following World War I and has changed boundaries several times since then.

After looking at the maps, one of the library catalog computers was free so I stopped to do a subject search for genealogy. Most of the books were divided between the NC Room and a segment of non-fiction that I still hadn't found yet. So I set off wandering again to see if I could locate them.

I finally found the books I had discovered in the library catalog for the non-fiction section. I was actually surprised at how many books on genealogy they had, although I did note that they still don't have either of Elizabeth Shown Mills' Evidence Explained books.

A little more wandering and I found the NC Room. I nearly walked by it because it's an actual room with a door and the sign is very discreet. At first I thought it was another office, but on closer look, I realized what it was and stepped inside.

The NC Room alone is worth another trip when I have more time to spend. There are computers set up for genealogy use only. Unlike the ones in the front part of the library for the public to use, which were all being used with people waiting for one to free up, all the computers were free. One entire segment of shelves was devoted to bound genealogy periodicals.

I found several books listing rosters, not only of NC troops, but Southern troops in general. Another segment of shelving holds genealogies and family histories. Some were actually published books, while others were clearly hand-made. One of the authors was a gentleman I've corresponded with and taken photographs for via Find-A-Grave, which was a neat coincidence. The odds of one of these books having a connection to my family is slim since none of my ancestors came from this area (as far as I've found anyway), but it was still interesting to flip through them.

I didn't get a chance to check out the file cabinets or the microfiche before I ran out of time so they'll have to wait until I get a chance to go back. Even though I didn't have as much time to explore as I would have liked (especially after figuring out where everything was and exactly what the library had), it was still a good experience. If I can fit it in my schedule, I'll go back for a more in-depth exploration.

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