Sunday, February 14, 2010

52 weeks to Better Genealogy: Online Databases

This week's challenge, posted by Amy Coffin at We Tree , is:

Online databases at your public library: Search your library's web site and see if your card grants you access to online databases. Libraries (even small ones) often have wonderful online tools including genealogy databases, historical newspapers and more! Take some time to play with these little perks that come with a library card. You just may get some help in your own genealogy research and gain some free research tools to boot. If you don't know how to access online library databases or you're not sure if your branch has them, ask a librarian for guidance. If you have a blog, discuss which databases (if any) to which your library subscribes.

I have four library cards -- my home Clay County (Florida) Public Libraries, Jacksonville Public Libraries, Alachua County Libraries (Gainesville), and the University of North Florida. Since I use the Jacksonville and Clay County libraries most, I'll just talk about them.

Clay County is a small but fast-growing county, and the Clay County Library system has come a long, long way in the 30 years we have lived here. They have access to a number of online databases which I might find useful including, for my Florida colonial lineages work, a database of Spanish-language Latin American journals in the social sciences. Other relevant databases include Academic One File for peer-reviewed journal articles in a number of fields, Civil War: Sources in U.S. History online, an electronic books database which covers "all electronic books available online that were catalogued by OCLC member libraries," and the FloridaCat Group Catalog in which I found a wonderful article on how the fisheries of St. Augustine have changed from the 15th century through the 21st, which will add a great social-history note to my research on St. Augustine during the Second Spanish Period! So right now the Clay County library electronic resources has benefited me! Clay County library's website also has Heritage Quest, which patrons can use at home.

Jacksonville is just north of here, and I often go to the main library there. I used to work for the Jax library, so I have a soft spot for them. They have a huge Genealogy department which is supplemented by the Florida Collection. They have the library edition of, as well as ArchiveGrid, which describes archival collections in libraries, archives, historical societies and museums across the globe. These two databases are in-library use only. I hadn't known about ArchiveGrid, but I will give it a test drive the next time I go to the Jax library. Among the history entries they have Daily Life in America (social history), History Resource Center: U.S. and History Resource Center: World, and Popular Culture Universe (covers from the 1920s onward), among others. The resources in this category of History, and in the Latino American category, are slim and do not include original sources or peer-reviewed journals, but rather seem to come from derivative compilations and encyclopedia entries. So, other than access to ArchiveGrid, I think I'll go for my journal article access to the University of North Florida website, where I can access a very large selection of peer-reviewed journal articles.

But it's good to know what is there, and I am looking forward to testing ArchiveGrid, and am rather pleased to see that Clay County's little library system provides me with more access to peer-reviewed journal articles than the large Jacksonville library system!

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