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6 Things to Know Before Visiting the Genealogy Library

6 Things to Know Before Visiting the Genealogy Library

Going to a genealogy library is something you will probably do many times during your career as a genealogist, and maybe even many times. Each library is different in how they organize things, how you locate things, and what types of collections they have on site. It is smart to be prepared before you visit a genealogy library so you can get the most out of your visit. If you are planning on visiting a genealogy library soon, here are six things you need to know before you go there.

1. Look Online and Find Out What Collections are in the Library

You don’t want to waste your time going to a library that doesn’t have the materials you need to do your genealogy. Look at their website before you go to learn what you will find there. If the library doesn’t have a website, call them and ask a librarian.

2. Discover How to Access Rare Collections

Most genealogy libraries do not keep their rare collections in the main stacks. You usually have to put in a request for something rare, and library workers bring items from requests to the main research room two or more times a day. Find out when you need to put in your request by to get what you want to see to work on your research.

3. Find Out if the Library Has User-Submitted Materials

Some genealogy libraries have collections of user-submitted materials, such as family trees, stories, and photos of local families. Discover if the library you’re going to see has these collections, as they can be very valuable in adding to your collection of research.

4. Find Out the Operating Hours

It seems like a basic thing, but you would be surprised at how many people go to genealogy libraries without checking the operating hours first. Save yourself the disappointment of arriving just before the close or on a day when they’re not open by checking ahead of time so you can plan your trip more effectively.

5. Check on Your Parking Options

Depending on where the library is located, it may or may not have parking nearby. If parking is on site, there may be a fee for it. If parking is off-site, you need to know the location, operating hours of the parking facility, and the parking fees. These are things you need to know before you go there, as they make your trip easier. You won’t lose valuable research time if you know when and where to park when you get there.

6. Look at Nearby Food Choices

If you are making a trip to a genealogy library, you will probably be there all day, especially if the library is far away, or one you’re going to while on a genealogy vacation. You will get hungry at some point. Examine nearby places to eat, so you won’t waste any research time looking once you’re there. You’ll find some genealogy libraries have cafés on site, but not all of them do. Knowing the nearest places to eat is extremely helpful information.

Will founded Ancestral Findings back in 1995. He has been involved in genealogy research for over 20 years. The thrill of the hunt, the adventure, and the excitement begin when he started investigating the meaning of his Moneymaker surname. Why I Love Genealogy (And You Should, Too!)


  • Remember to take change to operate the copiers and snack machines. Have bills below $100, $20’s and lower are best because the library might not be near a bank where you can change larger bills.

  • And come prepared with 10 questions you are trying to answer and a selection of resources you hope will help answer those questions!

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