Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Friday, February 11, 2011

RootsTech -- Library Digitization: Genealogist' Dreams Come True

Patricia Van Skaik talked about library delivery of free content. Libraries have been in the forefront of online digitized resources. She states that smaller libraries were the first to put their catalogs online, but these early online efforts were nearly all indexes. As time has gone on, more and more of the indexes are now being linked to the actual documents or photographs.

My comment: I have found that library collections are vastly underused by genealogists. For example, we typically have a lot of patrons every day at the Mesa Family History Center, especially during the winter months. But when I often suggest that the Mesa Public Library may have additional information, the patrons always act surprised as if they had never thought that it might be useful to examine a public library collection. Some of the libraries are producing oral history and video historical records. Most libraries also have a map  collection such as the Sanborn fire insurance maps.

Back to the library presentation. The dynamics of what libraries do has changed due to libraries. Individuals are also lending their documents to libraries through digitization when the patron is not comfortable in giving the actual documents. The patrons may not have the same level of trust with a commercial database. Libraries are also able to add the metadata necessary to adequately identify photographs and documents. Libraries also use social media sites like and other similar sites.

Los Angeles Public Library photo collection is extensive of movie related items. She suggests searching individual library sites and looking for digital records and following electronic Ezines and Email Blasts.

My comment: Some of the libraries make their collections available only to those who have library cards to their library. Some of the larger library collections are getting significantly large. For example, the New York Public Library has a online digital image collection of over 700,000 items. A Google search on "digitized collections "public library"" returns over six million results.

Back to the class: Getting into the libraries' back door:  use specific search engine searches such as for specific materials. Patricia suggests going to to find the book or materials in a particular library. She also reminds the attendees of the Family History Archives from FamilySearch and BYU. Digitization has come to the center of what libraries do and they are allocating a significant amount of their resources to digital initiatives. This turned out to be very interesting presentation.

My comment: Unless libraries continue to evolve, they will likely be the losers in budget cuts from sponsoring institutions.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a Cincinnatian who has the pleasure of knowing Patricia Van Skalk. I'm also fortunate to live in a city where the library is universally valued. I didn't know she was going to attend that conference. Once again, I'm jealous.