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Thread: Extinction of Public Libraries?

  1. #1

    Extinction of Public Libraries?

    Wednesday I played hookie from work and left at noon and met my wife (who had the day off anyway) at the Belfast Public Library. I know people claimed in the 1990's that libraries would be extinct with the advent of the internet, but I can tell you for me that is not going to be the case.

    The wife and I have families that helped settle Maine. Because of that we both got addicted to genealogy and colonial history. We have gone to the Belfast Public Library many times with Alyson and have been to story time and other kids activities, but never the third floor. It up being a treasure of books, lists and publications regarding New England history. For a few Alyson-Free hours Friday we dredged up a lot of neat information.

    For instance I knew my family had a presence in the American Revolution, but we knew of one relative...turns out there was 10-13. The reason for the range is because there was multiple spellings for Amsden/ Amsdin/ Amsdan so we are not sure yet if the other three are misspellings of Amsden? We also found 2 members in the War of 1812 and Patty found her family had a presence in the Spanish American War. The same family had a lot to do with the granite quarry industry which was a huge industry in 1900.

    I think the most interesting fact for the day of searching had to be the Yale connection. Seems as if an ancestor was a founding member of Yale University, and eventually a president of that college as well.

    The point here is, Public Libraries are alive and well, and if anything, thriving. My wife can pay money to a bunch of genealogy sites or simply go to the 3rd floor of the Belfast Public Library, check things out online (for free) and then cross reference them with real books and documents. If you have not been to one in awhile, you may be surprised at what a real bricks and motor library contains. I know I was.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Kansas City, Missouri
    I hit one of ours at least once every two weeks. The downtown library was redone a few years back and is now in walking distance. I don't think I've bought a book in about as long unless it was one that I really liked and need for reference. I recently took half my book collection and donated it to my local library, which they were happy to accept.

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Louisville, Kentucky
    The Libraries in Louisville, Kentucky are mostly full every evening. The computor stations are always full. They also have quite a collection of Woodworking Books VHS tapes and DVD's the tapes and dvd's have a wide range of subjects such as home improvement, and landscaping, while others are on one subject such as tuning your Bandsaw or Woodturning. Our Woodcarving Club has Carving Demonstration at different Library locations to try to generate new members.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    GTA Ontario Canada
    Can only agree Travis. Up here in Canada I remind people how spoilt they really are. We can access our local library through the interenet, browse to find a book and reserve it or if the bool is out put a reservation on it and they will call you automatically when your book is ready for pick up. This includes searches through inter library loans. We can also get multimedia in the form of taped booked as well as all the WW magazines. The librarians are most helpful and once I asked for a book that was not available and they actually arranged for its purchase and then called when it arrived. They offer Videos and CDs and its all covered by our town taxes. Fantastic service but underutilized.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    North Ogden, Utah
    In the last 10 years or so the library has become a big part of my wifes and my lifestyle. In fact we take the 40 mile drive once every month to renew and refuel our books, cds, etc. We have a local library that is good but this new library in Salt Lake City has an incredible collection of anything you could ask for and is one of the coolest buildings I've ever seen. The internet is great and I don't know how we lived without it for the last 2000 years, but there's nothing like a good library.
    Last edited by Curt Fuller; 11-28-2008 at 04:11 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Long Hill Township, NJ
    My local library recently expanded to a MUCH larger facility. The best part is that they are on the internet - I can reserve books from any library in the local consortium over the internet and they will email me when they have arrived at my local library for pickup.

    They have a wireless hotspot (I have yet to use it but it's there) and a lot of tables to sit and read at. It's quite nice. They used to rent new bestselling books for 25 cents a day which was great for me - I'm a fast reader. I can even get thru a Tom Clancy 4" thick book in under a week. For under $2.00 I had immediate access to first run new books. For some reason they have stopped doing that. I guess it wasn't generating enough revenue and their might have been some backlash.

    Everyone though the internet and video on demad would be the end of video rentals. My local Blockbuster seems busy.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Rio Rancho, NM
    The city of Rio Rancho built a brand-spankin new library a couple of years ago, and would you believe that there isn't much of a genealogy section. That may be because Rio Rancho - as a city - isn't even 40 years old yet and everyone who lives here came from somewhere else.

    My hometown library in Tennessee has a huge genealogy room and lots of information. I've traced my paternal families back to pre-Revolutionary Carolina when they came over from England as indentured servants. My maternal family has been traced back to pre-Revolutionary Massachusetts when the "founder" of the family came from Ireland. Like Travis, I have a lot of bragging rights in my ancestry.
    Nancy Laird
    FWW Registered Voter and Voting Member
    Woodworker, turner, laser engraver; RETIRED!!

    A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to his country for an amount of 'up to and including my life.' If you love your country, thank a vet.

  8. #8
    Nancy, there is a book at my library (well Belfast Public Library) entitled First Founding Families or something to that effect. I leafed through it but naturally I was looking for Amsden or Perriman and upon finding them, read the info and little more. The BPL genealogy section is pretty extensive, but there is one cannot check the books out. Everything is read-there-only, but you can photocopy and take notes of course. Perhaps you could email the BPL and see if you can get a copy of this book, or have your library contact them? You might not get much help from them one on one, but perhaps in an intra-library sort of thing you can get some help?

    The real question I am having is the Amsden in Maine connection. I always assumed that since the family came from Cambridge,MA and Harvard is located there, and Harvard had its own ship that came to Belfast, Me regularly to get firewood to feed the fireplaces of the college...that at some point an Amsden came and never returned. There is an Amsden that went missing about this time, but now the Yale College connection is kind of throwing all that off. Supposedly there oldest Amdsen is buried at the small cemetery at Harvard College but that has never been confirmed. It just seems rather unlikely that there would be two ties to two prominent universities at their inceptions.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    St. Louis, MO
    We're a few blocks from our local library branch, one of the Danforth libraries built across the country, renovated and added onto about 4 years ago. It doesn't have the civic pinache' of the main branch downtown (close to where i work), but we're there pretty often. The collection is great (and they can get just about anything you might want), the space is really fantastic, and the kids programs are great as well. Our house has a lot of books in it, and we spend a lot of time reading. My 6 year old son was incredibly proud to read his first book to me about two weeks ago.
    A lot of the local history archives (original documents, maps, first editions, etc.) is in the main branch downtown. A lot of it is on the establishment of St. Louis. The other great body of knowlege they have is about the westward expansion of the continental US. St. Louis was the primary launching pad for the exploration and movement into the Louisiana Purchase territories. I've dug into some of this once or twice. It's really an impressive experience to look through original sketches from Merriweather Lewis or letters from Laclede.
    The popularity of books has gone up since the internet took off - maybe because it's easier to find out about more things you'd like to read. And the computer screen is definitely not as enjoyable as print on paper.

  10. #10
    I whole heartily agree Paul. I think my greatest accomplishment as a parent is to have given Alyson the gift of enjoying books. She has plenty (her mom is a teacher after all) and its just a simple pleasure to read to her. I hope many of you enjoy that moment...or at least recognize it as a "moment" when it occurs.

    I guess what is really encouraging is that so many people on here have access to wonderful libraries. Maybe some are different and specialize in different things, but it is nice to hear so many people on here do get out of the shop once and awhile and enjoy reading.

    As for the expansion west, I bet that truly is interesting, especially the Louisiana Purchase. A lot of people know New Orleans has a french Quarter but few may realize that they came from Maine. This is the part of family history that has a dark side, but we were granted land here in Maine because of a relatives heroics in the French and Indian War. For that the King gave the family some land. Part of that "heroics" was driving off the french that lived here. They ultimately sailed south and re-settled in present day New Orleans because they had no where else to go.

    The Band, a rock group once wrote a song about the driven out french called Canadian Driftwood which is a folk music like song that talks about the whole affair. Its historically accurate as far as I know.

    It really is interesting how history, families and regions miles apart can be linked together.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

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