Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A Visit to the Genealogy Collection at the Texas State Library and Archives

Today I ventured to the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives & Library Building with students in "Information Resources in the Social Sciences" class. There, the able and friendly staff in the Genealogy collection introduced us to their many resources--the Federal Census schedules, Texas Convict Record Ledgers and Indexes, the city directories, passenger lists, and vital statistics. While only a 15 minute walk from our building, it had been at least a year since I visited the genealogy collection. The one noticeable difference was the change in patron use patterns. Genealogists, long among the most motivated of library users, are taking advantage of the rich resources available to them in electronic format. Where once we saw a room full of patrons viewing the Census materials on microfilm, we now saw one patron using the microfilm readers. Most now find the information online through HeritageQuest. Library staff and skilled volunteers still provide assistance to the beginning researcher, and access to resources not available electronically. For more about HeritageQuest, see the tutorial that iSchool student Lore Guilmartin created in the fall 2004 "Information Resources in the Social Sciences" class. You'll find it online, linked through the FAQ section of the "Bridge to TexShare for Small/Rural Libraries" (http://www.texshare.edu). Texas State Library and Archives staff are using the handout at training across the state. My students are involved in this and other service-learning experiences.

Reading Circle:

I recently examined one of the newer titles in the Genreflecting series: "African American Literature: A Guide to Reading Interests," edited by Alma Dawson and Connie Van Fleet (Libraries Unlimited, 2004). You'll find some familiar genre categories--detective/crime fiction and romance fiction--and also some lesser known genre such as life stories and inspirational literature. Entries for individual titles include a brief quote from the texts that illustrate the genre along with keywords.