Thursday, May 30, 2013

Overcoming Your Fear of Geneologists - MLA pre-conference 2013

Since spending time at the warehouse during our renovation, I am woefully out of practice helping genealogy researchers.  I decided that this seminar, given my Mary Mannix at FCPL, would help ease me back into familiarity with genealogy resources in preparation for our move back to Potomac Street.

The biggest thing I took away from this pre-conference session was that genealogy researchers are more than happy to take referrals, so it is most important to know where to find information and resources -- most will not expect us to do their genealogy research for them.

Free online resources for genealogy research:

Libraries that offer interlibrary loan of genealogy materials
  • St. Louis PL, Missouri -- home of the Nat'l Genealogical Society
  • Mid Continent PL, Utah -- owns a small circulating collection
  • Enoch Pratt holds duplicates and triplicates of local Maryland history and genealogy materials
  • Some academic libraries have hidden gems that were donated to their collections and circulate via ILL, check
  • Researchers can view LDS holdings at their local family history centers for a fee
Useful resources:

Other tips:
  • Newbie genealogists should start with what they know and fill out a family tree 
    • They should then write down everything they know, and think they know about their family
    • After that, talk to relatives and write down everything they know and think they know
    • Use the resources available to prove or disprove what is written down
  • Always start with the most recent (yourself or most recently deceased) and work backwards
  • Census records
    • 1790-1940 available on Ancestry and HeritageQuest
    • Prior to 1850, only heads of households were listed by name in the census
    • The majority of the 1890 census was lost in a fire
    • Not every census has been indexed
    • There are a lot of discrepancies in the census, so spellings may not be correct
  • Primary sources are best though indexes, abstracts and transcriptions are helpful
    • Some primary sources: mortality, slave, agricultural schedules; vital records (birth, death); obituaries; church records (marriage, christening, death, cemetery surveys); wills and estate documents
This was a great crash course in genealogy research, and it definitely helped me get over the fear of going back to Central and having genealogy questions again :)

~Liz Jones (WCFL reference)~

MLA - Lee Rainie - The Power and Relevance of Libraries

Here is a link to the presentation that Lee Rainie, director of  Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, gave at ALA's Legislative Day in Washington D.C.  It is very similar to the presentation that he gave at MLA as the keynote speaker.

Pew is a fact-tank, not a think-tank, so as Lee related, they just collect and analyze data.  Their data is available to anyone who wants to use it.  Their surveys are available for anyone who wants to use them in their own communities and Pew will consult about how to do that effectively.  So, just data, but Lee is also a huge fan of libraries.  He went through 11 "key takeaways from the Project's library research."

1. Libraries are appreciated (especially by parents)
2. Libraries stack up well against others in terms of public confidence
3. People like librarians
4. Libraries have re-branded themselves as tech hubs
5. E-book reading is growing, borrowing is just getting started
6. People are open to even more tech at libraries
7. The public invites us to be more involved in knotty problems
8. Libraries have a PR problem/opportunity
9. There is churn in library use  (increase and decrease in library usage)
10. Mothers are special
11. There is a truly detached population out there that matters to us

If any of those points make you wonder what Lee was talking about - check out his slides or talk.   Very quick, very easy to make sense of, very important for us to know how the public perceives us and what our opportunities are. 

In short, people feel warm and fuzzy about libraries.  They want us to do everything we used to do and everything new too.  Parents of young children need us and use us the most and mothers are our biggest untapped PR opportunity.  Lee suggested finding Mommy bloggers who are library users...

While 91% of people think libraries are important to their communities and 76% say libraries are important to them, a lot of those folks don't use libraries.  And even more don't know what we's where we have the most work to do.