For the Best Free Genealogy Websites, Start at Your Library

Genealogy is the study of lineages and family histories and is a topic that comes up at one point or another in a person’s life. Whether due to sheer curiosity or specific interests in family origins, the search through one’s genealogy can be a big task to take on. Genealogists spend extensive amounts of time using oral interviews, historical records such as birth, death, or marriage records, forensics and genetics, the census, and many other research materials. Luckily, the public library makes the search easier for researchers and those interested in their family history. There are plenty of genealogical resources available for free through local and state libraries as well as databases and trained librarians that can aid in this discovery process.

Part of the Gig Economy? Grab a Library Card!

If you’re like the 57.3 million Americans who work as independent contractors and freelancers, you undoubtedly have a work-life that differs greatly from a standard nine-to-fiver.  And while your workflow may be atypical, access to quality resources doesn’t have to be. Improve your gig game at the local library. Here’s how:  

Library Databases Really Have It All

A Basic Review A database is a collection of items organized in a computer and made searchable. Unlike search engines, which use advanced coding and digitized spiders to collect and allow users to search for information, databases use human beings. Think of a search engine as a huge collection of file cabinets with everything the search engine collects and a database as a smaller, more organized set of file cabinets dedicated to a single topic and organized by humans. This gives them far richer resources for research but demands more consideration by the user to get the most out of them. Because humans organize them, databases lack the ability to ‘guess’ your query the way Google can, and therefore, more thought is needed to organize your searches. This lack of guessing means that the search must be stripped down to the fewest words possible to express the main idea.

Free eBooks Galore!

It is common knowledge these days that public libraries are the place to turn to if you’re looking for free books to read. With public libraries available for communities everyone, it is not too hard to drop in, sign up for a library card, and begin taking books home with you to keep you occupied for hours. But, did you realize that public libraries can be accessed from the comforts of your own house? Digital library collections are an investment that public libraries have implemented through their own ebook purchases or through partnerships with eReaders and apps to bring readers access to hundreds of thousands of print materials through digital platforms. Now, anyone with a library card can easily access free ebooks on their devices without having to scour the internet or use illegal platforms to download new titles. The app partnerships are easy to use and allow patrons to “check out” all kinds of books from classics written decades ago to anything like new fiction titles or even the latest memoir written by past president, Barack Obama.

What Exactly Does a Librarian Do?

The librarians that many of us actually encounter in our lives are vastly different from pop culture portrayals. They range from young to old and have wide ranges of skills and interests. While it is true that a majority of librarians are female, very few fit the bill of being grumpy old ladies. Librarians are incredibly useful and come in handy during times when we are feeling especially curious. Their diverse backgrounds make them experts of many subjects and capable of becoming experts in any subject. They connect their communities with important resources and build relationships- their jobs are more focused on working with people than with books.

Welcome Back! What To Expect When Returning To Your Library

Librarians are civic-minded individuals who are on the lookout for ways to open their doors to underserved communities. Libraries provide sanctuary and safety as well as books and movies. Six years ago, during the protests in Ferguson, MO. over the death of Michael Brown, when schools and businesses closed, Scott Bonner, the Head Librarian, kept the public library open. The first organization to hold a convention in New Orleans after Katrina? The American Library Association. Librarians do not back down from challenges, but COVID-19 presented a new, and often heartbreaking, set of difficulties. The community members who most need libraries; the elderly, children, and the homeless were the ones they were forced to turn away. That did not stop many of them as they moved programs, including summer reading, online and started options like curbside service.

What Science Can’t Explain About Reading

It may come as a surprise to many who are naturally used to reading books, labels, road signs, etc. on a daily basis that reading is not a natural occurrence our brains are wired to know. In fact, our brains are designed for talking and not reading, which is why it takes extra effort to learn how. Those who are not exposed to reading techniques at a young age can struggle as they get older which is why schools are so focused on closing the gap and teaching students how to read proficiently early on. Everyone has the potential to learn how to read regardless of background, especially if their instruction is based on science and prevention of reading failure rather than the experiences of the teacher. This way, students are less likely to fall behind in their reading and learning and will develop the literacy skills that become important for their futures.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Sparks a Joy of Reading

Dolly Parton is a multi-talented, well-known face in the world of country music. But, beyond being a singer, songwriter, actress, author, and businesswoman, she’s also made significant contributions to communities across America and around the globe with her literacy program, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. This program has supported literacy programs and encouraged a love of reading in over 2 million children worldwide. We all know that a love of reading needs access to a variety of books, and Ms. Parton’s contribution should get more recognition for its impact and importance.

Are Libraries in a Slow Decline?

As a library worker, advocate, and lover, I am so focused on the everyday workings of libraries that it can be hard to raise my head and look around, much less lift my perspective above the clouds to survey the so-called “big picture.” Yet when I do that, a consistent question pops up that concerns the future of libraries: Are they in a slow decline? Now, at this point you should imagine a buzzer going off in your head! Not because the answer is a resounding no, but because we’re asking about the future of libraries in a preposterous way; here we are, library workers and library lovers providing and experiencing the outstanding benefits of libraries every day and we wonder whether they’re in decline? It’s absurd.

How Controlled Digital Lending Makes an Entire College Library Available to Everyone Everywhere

Books have been circulating for thousands of years and have changed with new technologies and resources. The trends and demands of the digital world — where consumers access materials in electronic forms — means that many books that were published before the digital age are not available online or for e-readers. Librarians across the country are working on fixing this problem. It’s a curious problem because most recently published books have easily made the transition to digital because they were written and edited and printed electronically. Likewise, many books before the early 20th Century are likewise already digitized by non-profits and libraries because they are out of copyright.