14 June, 2013
“People” Resources Set Genealogy Center Apart
By Dawne Slater-Putt
The Genealogy Center is well known as the second-largest genealogical research collection in the United States, and for good reason – we have a lot of “stuff” here at ACPL! But aside from “stuff,” The Center’s helpful, friendly staff is one of its greatest resources. Manager Curt Witcher has been known to tell audiences this when he lectures at genealogical society events across the country.
In some libraries, staff members have been assigned jurisdiction over the local history collection in their building much to their chagrin – in fact, it’s rumored that occasionally, being in charge of the genealogy materials and having to deal with “those people” is deemed a punishment! But in The Genealogy Center, we are all genealogists ourselves. Most of us were gathering family history before we came to librarianship. Becoming a special collections librarian was a way that we could make a living immersing ourselves in our passion – genealogy! The seven librarians who work the Ask desk at The Genealogy Center, including Curt as manager, have a total of more than 200 years of intense genealogical research experience, and that experience encompasses a number of different geographic and subject specialties. Many of our shelvers also work on their own family history.
This background is to tell you – the FGS Conference attendee – that while you are in Fort Wayne doing research at The Genealogy Center, please feel free to ask questions of the staff. We are so glad that you will be coming to our city and our library! We will be happy to help you become familiar with where specific materials are located, use the copy machines and other equipment within the department, and offer suggestions of what you might try next to solve that difficult genealogical problem.
Normally we tell patrons that, yes, we have other duties and we might have our heads bent over paperwork, or be engrossed in preparing a PowerPoint presentation on the computer when they walk up – but to please interrupt us because our primary duty is helping the people who come to the library to research. During the busy conference week, though, all other duties will be set aside completely and our only focus will be you and your research.
The Genealogy Center’s philosophy is that patrons can go anywhere to find “stuff,” but that it is the personal touch of a dedicated, caring staff of professionals that makes researching at the Allen County Public Library something special.