52 Ancestors: Week 5 – Don\’t Forget to Check Out Libraries

This week\’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks prompt is \”At the Library\”. Libraries are such an over looked resource for genealogy. There is so much focus given to Museums, Historical Societies and websites such as Ancestry and Family Search. People seem to forget that libraries can hold wealth of information as well, especially local history. A lot of genealogical and historical societies will provide copies of their work to a local library. If you\’re lucky enough to come across a library that have genealogy enthusiasts on staff, the amount of local history and information on local families is amazing.

The library systems of major urban centers are great sources for genealogy. They also have well developed websites to help you find out what they have on hand, along with virtual exhibitions. Most of them also provide links to local societies and archives as well. But don\’t forget about smaller cities and towns. Sometimes you can find better information there, because they have a much more focused area of service. Often they are also the archive of the area.

Another set of libraries to look into are University and College Libraries. Because of their academic nature, they often have copies of out of print books and journals. Photograph collections and research papers can also give you insight into your ancestors\’ lives. Some campus libraries have very specialized collections geared to their curriculum, so you never know what you might find.

In our digital age, libraries have had to become innovative to keep with the times. Many offer research services. Don\’t have an Ancestry, FindMyPast, or My Heritage subscription? Check your local library. Many offer free access through their computers on site. Want access to newspaper databases? Many libraries provide access to sites such as ProQuest of major newspapers. Some you can even access through their website from the comfort of your own home with a valid library card.
Provincial Archives such as the Archives of Ontario and the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick have inter library loan with libraries across the country. You can get microfilms sent to your library on loan. Pretty handy for researching from a distance.

I tried to compile a list of library websites for each province and territory. These lists are by no means complete. They are just a starting point.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Prince Edward Island

Nova Scotia

New Brunswick





British Columbia


Northwest Territories

When all else fails, use Google and type in your area of research and keyword \”library\”. Also check the local government websites. Small libraries may not have a website. The local government websites will at least have contact information for the libraries in their jurisdiction.

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