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AfriGeneas Genealogy and History Forum

Re: On Line or In Library Research?

Research in the library is still the best for geneaolgical research. We are going through this debate at the university library where I am employed right now.

The powers that be & forward thinkers in the world of libraries have decided that the future of books in libraries looks pretty grim what with everything going online & patrons wanting instant access to data from the comfort of their computers at home or in the dorm or office. They are predicting that in the future about the only things that will be published in hard copy will be mass market fiction, self-help books,comics, & the like as it will become more profitable to sell or lease packages of e-books to libraries.

The only bright note in this is that they also believe that the departments in libraries that have the best chances of doing better in the coming years are the special collections or geneaology departments where they envision more & more of these collections being digitized for online access of especially the more fragile & rare records.

This is currently being done by many university libraries including our own. We are currently digitizing some records for the Florida Heritage Project which is a state-wide project to put online many previously unaccessable records of all kinds & our own special project the Bell Glass Negative photo project. We were given a collection of about a hundred or so glass negatives from the late 1800-early 1900 range produced by a Pensacola, Florida photographer. Copies have been made of these plates & they are being digitized for internet access.

While all this digitization of records is wonderful it isn't the same as having personal interaction with someone in the library. I have met more people in person who have been of help to me in my research & visa versa in the library or courthouses. This includes long lost relatives. I know doing this online is easy & for those of us who can't travel long distances its the next best thing to being there. I have personally found some of my best research online but still I like to use what I can find in the libraries or via interlibrary loan or through personal contacts I have made in the libraries or wherever.

Check out the digitization projects of LSU libraries & the University of North Carolina, plus the American Memory Project. One more big thing in university libraries now is putting in a Starbucks & buying comfy furniture to make that Barnes & Nobles feeling to the place to attract more customers (oops), I meant students. We are doing just that.


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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