For Librarians

Clark, Rhonda and Nicole Wedemeyer Miller. Fostering Family History Services: A Guide for Librarians, Archivists and Volunteers. Libraries Unlimited, 2016.

Geared toward family history collection caretakers in public libraries and small informal collections, this guide is useful for the development of institutional outreach, strategic planning and programming. The authors (both veterans of public and academic library work and instructors of library science and genealogy courses at the graduate level) suggest ideas and direction on procedures and activities that promote family history programming. Published in 2015, the book is current and up to date on available resources and professional library standards and practices. Aimed at a wide audience, including volunteer staff with no professional library training and professional reference librarians with little or no specialized genealogy training, it fills the gap in the professional literature that provides overviews of resources but nothing designed to foster outreach or programming. An important theme emphasized is the shift to digital resources not tied to a physical collection, and the growing need for search expertise and services that help patrons navigate resources. The book is useful primarily to the professional looking for a how to manual on promoting family history resources within a collection and for generating ideas on innovative programming and collaborative local projects.

Simpson, Jack. Basics of Genealogy Reference: A Librarian’s Guide. Libraries Unlimited, 2008.

This work, authored by Jack Simpson the curator of Local and Family History at the Newberry Library in Chicago, and creator of, is designed for library professionals who may not have training on genealogy research. It provides a “basic strategy” for assisting patrons with genealogy research inquiries. Chapters 1-8 review basic genealogy resources and strategies. Chapter 9 discusses internet research. Chapter 10 discusses at length the Family History Library, its history and the resources it holds. Chapter 11 discusses the National Archives and other specialty libraries and repositories best suited to answering questions that small libraries are not equipped to handle. This chapter and chapter 12, designed specifically for library professionals, cover genealogy reference interview techniques as well as pitfalls and solutions for specific situations. Chapter 13: Professional Toolkit, provides resources for professional development directing readers to events, such as conferences and seminars, internet resources, such as podcasts, professional journals and finally a bibliography of twenty reference books on the topic. The book concludes with four case studies that illustrate how the tools and resources work together to generate narratives and answer genealogy inquiries in particular situations, depending on the background of in the information seeker, highlighting how specific resources apply to their situation. This work is eight years old, which dates the internet resources (which change rapidly) and print resources it identifies as useful. It will be of special use to reference library staff seeking to enhance their ability to provide instruction and assistance to patrons with genealogy inquiries.

Verma, Henrietta. “Rooted in Research- Genealogy.” Library Journal, November 4, 2016. Accessed 23 Oct. 2016.

Verma, a reference librarian and former library director, edits Library Journal’s reference review column and covers e-reference and digital databases for this respected professional publication of the library community. In this piece, she argues that human expertise is “still crucial” in order for genealogists and family historians to maximize available resources when compiling family history. Libraries across the country were surveyed on the types of programming and services they offer to the growing number of patrons interested in family history research. The author reports that patrons “value time with a librarian”, and that some libraries offer one on one time with staff. Classes and events are “need-driven”. She also found that partnerships with local history and genealogy organizations are important. In addition, the author discusses databases, apps and other tools that library staff can use to assist patrons and hone their own skills. The piece also analyzes how demographic trends impact patron interest and drive the market. This article is of primary interest to library staff who may be seeking programming ideas, but it can also be of use to intermediate and beginner family historians as it lists a wide array of helpful resources, such as apps or databases they might not yet be aware of.