May 26, 2009: @ the library
Part of the newest addition to the library lies right next to my office, where a window lets me look into the brand new local history room that we have dubbed The New River Room. I can literally watch the use being made of this wonderful new space: people stay to research, to read, to make notes on their own ancestry searches, maybe their own book. We turn the light off when no one is using the room, but I can attest to how much of the day the light is turned on and the room is occupied. This room was the original idea that led to the library’s brand new addition, a place where the Radford Public Library’s significant collection of western Virginia history could have some room to grow and tables and chairs for people using those books. It turned out better than I could have hoped and is being used exactly as we wished.
The library’s commitment to local history and genealogy research extends to two online databases, one that can only be used in the building, Ancestry.com, and one that you can also access remotely from your home computer, Heritage Quest, because of licensing issues. Both provide ways to trace your own personal history and discover things about your family’s past through time. If you have any questions about using these resources, call the library or ask staff members when you come to the library.
Some librarians look down on genealogy research as not being as legitimate as other lines of study, but when done well, it is a way to study history in a small, focused way. Preserving the particular history of the local community, even small and obscure works that might not interest anyone in any other part of the world, is a unique and important role for local public libraries. If you’ve not had a chance to visit the new room, take time to come by and check it out.