Don’t Forget the Library By Jana Greenhalgh, The Genealogy Kids

In a day and age when records are becoming more and more available online, it can be easy to forget that this world still contains libraries and archives FULL of useful information … information that is NOT yet online! (What!? We can’t find everything we want online?!) It’s true.

I love to teach young people how to utilize the internet for family history research, but I also LOVE to expose them to the beauty of old books on shelves and the thrill of hunting for hard-to-find records. It’s detective work, and bright young brains are good at it! I was sixteen when my grandfather introduced me to a family history library. It became one of my favorite places, and I’ve been going ever since!

Recently, my teenagers, who are fortunate enough to live close to the glorious Salt Lake Family History Library, were hired by an out-of-state relative to visit the library in search of some specific information. With just a quick lesson, kids can easily learn how to locate items in the library.

In just a few minutes, these two had found the records they were looking for, messaged the information to their “client,” and had a little extra spending cash in their pockets. And while a paid job is what got them in the door in the first place, they learned some library skills, and more importantly, they now know the value of the library.

Just for kicks, I showed them the microfilm readers … the tools researchers like myself relied on for the bulk of our information (not so long ago). Interestingly, the teenagers were entertained by this somewhat archaic tool (which is not yet useless, despite digitization efforts). While I was busy on the library computers (ironically), they kept asking for film jobs … “What do you need me to find on film for you, Mom?”

Next time you go to the library, don’t go alone. Take a teenager with you.

*By the way, libraries are not always great places for the littler kids. Until they’re old enough to respect the books and the quiet atmosphere, take the younger ones to the kid-section of the public library, or to one of FamilySearch’s amazing, family-friendly Discovery Centers!