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Public Library Usage Survey Results

(Surveys) Permanent link
Michael J. Leclerc

Michael J. Leclerc
Director of Special Projects

Last week’s survey asked about visiting your public library for genealogical research. While 45% visit weekly, monthly, or quarterly, an astonishing 33% never go to the library, and almost 50% never use their public library’s website.


Many of these are likely made up of two types of researchers: individuals who think that if the library does not have a genealogy section, there is nothing there to assist them; or individuals who think that if their ancestors did not live in the local area, the local public library will not be able to assist them. It is unfortunate that these people choose to ignore a major asset for their genealogical research.


Public libraries have research assistance in many corners. Books on general American history can help you place your ancestors in historical context. They may have subscriptions to history journals and popular magazines that will also help in this area. Understanding the historical context of the area where your ancestors lived may help you find more clues to identify who they were and where they came from.


One of the biggest reasons to visit your local public library is InterLibrary Loan (ILL). No one library (not even the Harvard University library system) has every item ever published. Many books and articles can be borrowed through ILL from libraries around the country (as well as many places elsewhere) and brought to your local library for you to use. Amazingly enough, not everything is on the internet, or even available digitally. Many records still exist only in the original or on microfilm. Microfilms of many materials can also be borrowed through ILL.


If you never visit your library or its website, how do you know there is nothing there to assist you? Libraries are constantly getting in new materials, subscribing to new online databases, and otherwise acquiring materials to help you. Without regular visits (both in person and online), how would you know if these materials would be of assistance?


One of the more valuable resources at the library is also the reference staff. It is their job to assist you with finding answers to your questions. They will also have access to materials to assist you that may not be readily apparent. The important thing to remember is not to restrict yourself in your thinking. Don’t limit yourself to thinking that because your ancestors didn’t live in your local area, or that if your library doesn’t have a specific genealogy section that they have no materials for genealogists. Take advantage of this free resource.


The full results of the survey are:


How often do you visit your local public library in person to conduct genealogical research?
Never, 33%
Yearly, 22%
Quarterly, 20%
Monthly, 17%
Weekly, 8%


How often do you visit your public library’s website for genealogical research?
Never, 49%
Weekly, 16%
Monthly, 15%
Quarterly, 13%
Yearly, 7%


This weeks’ survey asks about certification and accreditation.

Take the survey now!

Posted by Michael Leclerc at 08/31/2010 05:02:29 PM | 

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