Showing posts with label libraries. Show all posts
Showing posts with label libraries. Show all posts

Thursday, January 28, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy: ILL (no, I'm not sick)

ILL up there stands, of course, for Inter-Library Loan. Amy Coffin, in her blog We Tree challenges us this week, the fourth week of the year-long endeavor with which I have not quite kept up, to check out our public library's Inter-Library Loan system. I use the one at my University the most, these days, as I'm working on my big project, and I have other papers to do as well.

But I do have a story about Inter-Library Loan this week. For my project, my directing professor wants me to read a book called Men of Cajamarca by James Lockhart. The university library does have a copy, but one of my professor's graduate students has it right now and it's not due back until the middle of the month. I'm next in line with a hold on it, but I would like to read it sooner, because then there is another book I need to read after that one. So I decided to see if the Jacksonville Public Library could get it for me on ILL. All these libraries are plugged into the ILL system called ILLiad, but I'm afraid this time it put me on an odyssey (okay, enough with the classical references . . .)

I got logged on and entered my information, including my Jacksonville library card number. I hit "submit." The form came back up, all filled in except for the library card information, and the form asked me in friendly red letters to enter my library card number. "I did, you ape," I responded -- I talk to my computer all the time, and not always nicely. So I entered it again, hit "submit," and the same thing happened. Now, my library card is current, so that was not the problem.

Today I went to the Jacksonville library, the main library downtown, to do some research in the microfilmed East Florida Papers. While I was there, I tried to find out if they could manually order the book for me on ILL. First off, the fellow at the information desk did not have the right information, and he sent me pursuing the undomesticated waterfowl. That was no fun, as I had already walked my limit on my arthritic hip looking for lunch. Then I went to the circulation desk, and got the phone number for the library's ILL office.

Haven't called them yet; didn't want to have to go outside to use my cell phone right then, as I wanted to get started on my research. I may call them tomorrow. Or, at this rate, I just may wait until the 15th, when the book is due back at the university library.

This has been an irritation, but it is not about to put me off ILL. I have reaped great benefit from this service, and it's one of the best services a library can offer.

I just need to try to find out why ILLiad does not like my Jacksonville library card!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Asheville Public Library Genealogy and Local History Collection

My husband and I have come to Asheville's main public library, known as the Pack Memorial Library of the Buncombe County Public Library System for a little internet time. So I took the opportunity, as a visiting genealogist, to browse the local history and genealogy collection. It is located on the main floor, in the reference department.

They have an extensive collection of North Carolina regional histories, providing wonderful coverage of all parts of the state. They do, of course, have a concentration of materials on Asheville and Buncombe County, of which it is the county seat. Buncombe County is the origin of our word "buncombe" or "bunkum," meaning nonsense, information with no foundation whatsoever. The term was applied to a particularly hot-air-filled state legislator, the gentleman from Buncombe, whose inflated prnouncements led to the use of the county's name as a synonym for bombast and hokum.

One of the highlights is the Pack Memorial Library Newspaper clipping collection, consisting in several volumes of photocopied newspaper clippings about the area and its people. Prominent among them in the volume covering the "Pa" part of the alphabet, is George W. Pack, local resident in the early 20th century, described by one of the newspaper articles as "the greatest public benefactor" in Asheville's history. The articles are arranged alphabetically by subject, with a table of contents at the beginning to indicate the contents of each particular volume.

Also wonderful is the postcard collection, kept in binders, again arranged alphabetically. The collection does not consist in actual postcards, unfortunately, but only in black and white photocopies of them. Arranged by subject, the postcards reflect decades of Asheville area history, covering the city, the people, places, and the surrounding National Park areas which include the Blue Ridge Parkway and Mount Pisgah National Park.

Photocopying the newspaper articles and the postcards is a way of preserving them. The newspaper articles, especially, are subject to deterioration and subsequent loss. Photocopying the postcards not only preserves the images from deterioration, but also from pilfering by light-fingered people, the bane of any librarian's existence.

Censuses are naturally a part of the genealogy collection. Census microfilms are available, and there are transcriptions of most of the censuses, as well. The library also subscribes to the library edition of

City directories form part of the collection, from the mid-1800s onward. This library has also bound copies of their telephone directories from the mid 20th century onward. I know of few libraries which have taken the trouble to do that, but it is a boon to genealogical researchers attempting to fix their ancestors in place and time.

People wishing to trace western North Carolina ancestries could do well to stop by at the Pack Memorial Library in Asheville.