is important to know the difference between a library and an archive. A library
contains published material in the form of printed books, periodicals,
magazines, journals, broadsides, newspapers, pamphlets, and brochures. Many
items in a library can be borrowed through Interlibrary Loan. An archive
contains unpublished, one-of-a-kind items that cannot be borrowed.
are national, regional, state, special (including corporate and institutional),
academic, local, and private libraries. The point of printing or publishing
something is so there can be multiple copies. There may be a copy of the book
you need in several libraries across the nation which gives you a better chance
to borrow the book on Interlibrary Loan through your local library.
national library is the Library of
Congress which does not loan books but will make photocopies of parts of books
as a last resort if no other library has the item. The Library of Congress does
not copy fragile items that could be damaged in the photocopying, filming, or
scanning process. You may have to visit Washington, D.C. to view very rare
items. It is sometimes possible for your state or university library to borrow
books from the National Library of Canada and some of the Canadian provinces.
Borrowing books from other national and foreign libraries is more difficult.
and regional libraries often
loan materials or photocopy pages, depending on the rarity of the item. There
are 50 state libraries in the United States and many of them have genealogy
collections specializing in their state. State libraries also have archival
collections that hold unique documents pertaining to that state.
libraries such as corporate and business libraries may have employment
information, lists, and biographies of board members that can help you in your
genealogical research. Institutional libraries may have the history of a
particular institution, such as a hospital, a museum, or a society. Special
libraries usually have collections on a narrower scope than a public library. As
an example of how you might use a special library, someone doing Native American
genealogy may want to visit an anthropology library to research the movement of
a particular tribal group that could help in locating records. Law libraries are
considered special libraries unless they are part of a university or a state
libraries do not usually have a genealogy collection as genealogy is normally
not part of the university curriculum. They may, however, have an excellent
collection of state and local histories and maps. State and university libraries
are often repositories for material published by the government. If your
ancestor was a government employee (postmaster, tax collector, census taker, or
teacher, to name a few) or if your ancestor filed a patent for an invention, you
might find some interesting information in a government repository.
libraries in the places of our ancestors’ residences are often a gold mine for
genealogists especially if they collect their town’s local history. You may
find unique publications that mention your family, your family’s business, or
activities of your ancestors in local government, church, and civic
organizations. This material may be unique and not available in any other
library. Some large public libraries with genealogy collections include the
Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana; the St. Louis County Library
in Missouri, and the Houston Public Library in Texas. There are many others too
numerous to name. Go to Cyndi’s List for a good selection.
libraries open to the public are some
large genealogy and historical societies libraries include the Daughters of the
American Revolution Library in Washington, D.C.; the New England Historic
Genealogical Society Research Library in Boston, Massachusetts; and the largest
genealogy library in the world the Family History Library of the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) in Salt Lake City, Utah.
give me the address of the public library in my ancestor’s hometown.
am looking for diaries written by people who traveled the Oregon Trail. Can you
tell me where I might find published or unpublished records?
the Kraft or Nabisco Company have a library or archive?
Does the Library of Congress have books about my ancestor?
Is there a rail road library in the Vermont (or some place else)?
ancestor was an inventor, where can I find a record of his inventions?
To ask these or
similar questions, click on Help Me!, fill
out the form that comes up, and submit your questions.