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Mar 18, 2022

(+) Comments about Genealogy Libraries and Buildings

NOTE: This article contains personal opinions.

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

In case you have not heard the news, many genealogy libraries are struggling financially these days. For this article, I will focus solely on the larger societies that have their own buildings or perhaps rent a significant amount of space in other buildings. I will also look only at societies that have libraries that are not funded by taxpayer dollars. Many of them have paid employees, although not all do.

An example of one such library would include the New England Historic Genealogical Society. The same may be true of the Society of Genealogists’ library in London. The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) library in Washington, D.C. also is a huge, non-profit resource, although the sponsoring organization is not limited to genealogy interests. The DAR library does seem to fit in the same business model as the libraries of large genealogy societies.

You can find hundreds of smaller examples, including the Vesterheim Genealogical Center/Naeseth Library (VGC/NL) in Madison, Wisconsin; the Erie County Historical Society’s Library in Erie, Pennsylvania; and the American French Genealogical Society in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, and many more. The Godfrey Memorial Library in Middletown, Connecticut, may also fit into this category although it is not a part of any society. It is an independent genealogy library, but with business and financial realities similar to the libraries sponsored by societies.

Each of these libraries holds thousands of books of value to genealogists. Yet I believe that each of these libraries is in danger of extinction. Like so many species of creatures that saw their source of sustenance dwindling, some will evolve and others will disappear.

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