I’m a huge fan of the St. Louis city and county public library systems (and, by extension, all public library systems). Even before I started doing serious genealogy research, I was a heavy library user. Before I got my first Kindle e-reader five years ago, they knew me by name at my local branch of the city library. (I still borrow books all the time but now they’re electronic, so I don’t get into my branch very often.)
St. Louis City and St. Louis County are separate government entities. (The city seceded from the county in 1876.) As a result there are two independent library systems, each with their collections. Residents of either entity, however, are welcome to use the other. So I’m fortunate to have access to two great library systems!
I’m so grateful for the genealogy resources the libraries. Both city and county headquarters here have genealogy collections. The St. Louis County library has two floors (Tiers 4 and 5) set aside for genealogy and history. Patrons can visit Tier 5 at any time the library is open and get the assistance of the very helpful employees. Tier 4 is closed to the public, though materials housed there can be requested. On the second weekend of each month (this month it’s July 14-15) Tier 4, is opened to the public. If you’re in St. Louis you might consider taking advantage of the opportunity to browse more than 130,000 family histories and other materials shelved in this area not usually open to the public.
I love using Tier 5 and try to get there at least once a quarter. One reason I go is that patrons of public libraries that are affiliated with the Family History Library (like the St. Louis County library) can access some of the documents online while at they’re library branch that they can’t access at home. It’s so much easier for me to travel fifteen minutes to the St. Louis County Library History & Genealogy Department than it is for me to travel to Salt Lake City!
In addition, my libraries offer free classes that help me build my genealogy skills. I bet yours does too.
My library card can help me do online research, without even having to go to the branch. The libraries I have access to allow me to search dozens of databases, simply by entering my card number and PIN. I have found information on newspaper databases and obituary indexes, for example, that I didn’t find elsewhere.
When I’m researching at my computer, I always start with Ancestry and Family Search. But sometimes need to remind myself to turn to the many digital library resources available to me!
The public library system throughout the country is such an amazing resource, for genealogy research and just general enrichment and education. If you don’t know already, I encourage you to reach out to your local library and see how it might help you in your family history research!