Wednesday, April 16, 2008

National Library Week

In honor of National Library Week, Randy at GeneaMusings has listed his 10 favorite genealogy libraries.

He then lists three libraries he most would like to visit, and on the list, is the one I find myself at at least twice a month, if not more. The St. Louis County Library Headquarters Branch. I wasn't surprised to see my library on his list. Why is he interested in traveling halfway across the country to St. Louis, MO?

Back in 2001, the National Genealogical Society transferred a 20,000 volume collection to St. Louis. However, while previously they were available only to NGS members, now the volumes are circulating, available both for check-out and interlibrary loan. You can go to your own local library, and have them request St. Louis County library to ship the books your way. Naturally, you can't ask for all 20,000. The procedures here suggest two at a time. (And you can search the catalog online.) So if there's a particular book in the NGS collection you want to look at, don't wait to come to St. Louis. You might discover on the weekend you choose to visit, the book you want is somewhere else.

St. Louis does have a huge microfilm collection in addition to the 20,000 NGS collection. This isn't available Interlibrary Loan.

LA Times 1982-current
Washington Post 1986-current
Boston Transcript (Genealogical Queries Only) 1896-1941
40 separate newspapers from scattered locations across Missouri ranging in dates from 1828-current
New York Times 1851-current

Extensive list of documents on microfilm

I count 18 different states that are represented. e.g.
Miss. Death Index 1912-1943
La. Orleans Marriage Index 1831-1949
New Orleans Passenger Lists 1820-1902
City Directories for St. Louis, East St. Louis, Chicago, New Orleans, Kansas City, and several cities in Mississippi.

I've barely scratched the surface of the holdings in the family research I've done, and I realize how lucky I am to be living where I am. I also realize that there are a lot of people in St. Louis who have no idea what is available to them.

I have three library cards. Every single town in St. Louis County used to have its own separate library, and then they began to merge into one conglomerate. The St. Louis County system now has 19 branches I think. There are nine towns that refused to join, and they formed their own separate system (The Municipal Library Consortium of St. Louis County). And then there is the St. Louis City library system. The three have agreements with each other so that residents can get library cards at any or all of the three, which I have done. However, I spend most of my time at the County headquarters now. The main branch of the City library is a few blocks from where I work, and they have a good genealogy section too, but nowhere near what the County has.

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