Monday, January 25, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy - Week #4

Amy Coffin at the We Tree blog is challenging bloggers to become better genealogists, with a new prompt each week through her 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy:

Week 4: Learn about your local public library’s inter-library loan (ILL) policy. Pick a genealogy-related book that you want to read that is not in your library’s collection. Ask the librarian how to request the book from another library. Find the different library systems from which you can request books through your own library, as this can dramatically increase the number of genealogy books to which you have access. If you have a genealogy blog, write about your experience with requesting items through your library’s ILL service.

I adore inter-library loan.  As a college student, I tend to use the universities system, because I can do it from my couch, while for the public library I have to go in to request an item.  I recently received my first ILL for a genealogy book.  While looking for films on Knockholt, Kent, England from the FHL, I noticed a book that seemed useful: A History of Knockholt in the County of Kent by David Waldron Smithers.  This was published in England in 1991 and is currently out of print.  Only 3 libraries in the USA own it, according to WorldCat: Princeton, Harvard and the Library of Congress.  I ILL requested it through SU and a couple weeks later arrived the apparently never before used (it is pristine!) book from Princeton University.

This book is FANTASTIC!  It was written by a lifelong resident of Knockholt and it mentions surnames such as Bond, Whitehead and Wells.  Are they my Bonds, Whiteheads and Wells'?  It was a small town, so I am sure there is some relation (hopefully I will know for sure when my films come in...)  It also gives the towns history, beginning in the stone age, has photographs, gives information about the parish church records and has more information that gives a genealogist a background on the town their ancestors came from.

If you are new to ILL, be sure to check out WorldCat.  According to their website, "WorldCat is the world's largest network of library content and services. WorldCat libraries are dedicated to providing access to their resources on the Web, where most people start their search for information."  Although not every library in the world is a member, most large libraries, particularly in the US, are and it will give you an idea of what books are out there and where they are located.

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