Genealogists as a whole are fairly myopic about their online usage. Not just because of the age of our eyes, but because we focus on a small set of comfortably familiar resources and largely ignore many other valuable online research sources. As I keep poking around, every once and a while I find that there are huge unmarked areas of the online genealogical map waiting to be explored, but largely ignored by the genealogical community. One of my current examples is the vast Australian National Library online collection called Trove. But then I found a whole other connection that I had not previously known about.
Trove.nla.gov.au is so large, it makes large databases look small. Presently, it has over 340 million Australian and online resources. But size is only helpful if it has what you are looking for.
Now, in ordere to explain the connection, I have to move around the world to the much, much smaller Maricopa County Public Library District here in Arizona. Where I live, I am about the same physical distance from the main Mesa Public Library as I am from the Maricopa County Southeast Regional Library in Gilbert, Arizona. So, of course, I check back and forth between the two libraries to see which one has what I am looking for. I am usually looking, not so much for genealogy resources, as books on photography, computers, computer programs and such. But the Maricopa County Library has an online resource specifically for genealogy. It is where I can get access to the online database HeritageQuestOnline.com. This site in only available to those who have access through a library card at a participating library, but it is otherwise free. Now, Heritage Quest is valuable because it has a copy of the entire U.S. Census from 1790 to 1940.
OK, now I need to do a side note. This explanation may take a while but it is worth reading. You may have access to these resources by means of your own local or county public library system and not know it. You may want to pay something extra to get a library card from a library in a large city in your state or province to get access in that way. In asking around, most people can get a library card from some library if they take the time to find out how to do it.
On with the story. So for some time, I have been using my Maricopa County Library District card to gain free access to Heritage Quest Online and have even taught a few classes on the database. Now, Heritage Quest Online is part of ProQuest. Not too long ago, I noticed that the genealogy link for the Maricopa County Library District included additional resources; Ancestry.com Library Version (for use in the library, which I already knew about) ProQuest Obituaries and Gale Genealogy Connect. These last two were a surprise. The ProQuest Obituaries site is limited to specific newspapers and could be helpful to some, but not to me. The Gale Genealogy Connect was an entirely different matter. This is a rather large collection of hundreds of digitized genealogy books, most of which are still under copyright and not generally available online elsewhere, such as a book I recommended yesterday to a patron.
So, this is where Cengage Learning comes in. Cengage Learning bought Gale Research and the Gale Group in 2007. See Wikipedia:Gale (publisher) for more details. So guess what? One of the major components of the Trove.nla.gov.au website is Cengage Learning, an international company in 35 countries. See Wikipedia:Cengage Learning.
Then I ran across references to the Gale resources on Trove. So now the circle is complete. What I have discovered is that there are these huge online resource libraries that work through the library system and are not generally available online unless you connect with a library. Here is the deal, if you start poking around in your local, county or state library system, you just might find that there are all these genealogy books and resources available that you weren't aware of.